Fusion band Khruangbin released the sequel to their chart-topping EP Texas Sun with the follow-up Texas Moon and kicked their nation-wide tour off with a visually and sonically jaw-dropping set Friday, March 4 at The Sylvee.
The concert kicked off with an astounding performance by Nubya Garcia, an English saxophonist and musician, who set the stage with her powerful solos and unique embellishments throughout their time on stage. A beginning that demanded attention, it was clear the crowd wanted even more from bassist Casimir Daniels, drummer Barrell Jones and keyboard/pianist Jahari Stampley.
The choice of having Nubya Garcia as an accompanying tour presence was clearly strategic. From her track “Impossible Kingdoms” on her debut EP Nubya’s 5ive to her more recent composition of “Together Is A Beautiful Place To Be”, she showed her prowess as an artist and potential as a performer.
Accompanying artist Jahari Stampley had his moment in the spotlight as well, performing a silencing yet rousing solo that stole the show. With Barrell Jones and Casimir Daniels demonstrating pure passion and agility in their performances, the sonic consilience of influences the group brought to their set was the perfect setup for Khruangbin.
With a light show itself that drew deafening applause from the crowd, the slow and dramatic entry of Laura Lee and the members of Khruangbin was a spectacle to behold. After eagerly awaiting their entry along with the audience and witnessing the detailed construction of their set, it became apparent that this show was bound to be one that Madison wouldn’t forget.
Their set ran the gamut of songs in their extensive and diverse catalog. From “Maria Tambien” to “The Infamous Bill,” the show had moments of crowd-pleasing while incorporating influences, interpolations and covers of other songs. While putting the audience in a trance with a fusion of musical elements from their catalog and tracks they pulled from other artists, what kept everyone’s attention on stage was the visual eye candy of the set. With three silver platforms reminiscent of spaceships along with two large disco balls hanging on either side of the set, the stage was illuminated with fascinating color and light that accompanied the motifs of their performance.
During their entry and occasional promenades to center stage, they displayed their dazzling outfit designs as well. With Mark Speer donning his classic bangs wig and 70s suit and DJ’s outfit with his statement hat, it truly was the visuals that shined throughout the show.
In an exclusive interview with Lee, she gushed about the set design and outfit choice.
“The outfit set up is an entire job. I wear two different outfits a night and I never repeat them. For a tour of 30 shows that’s 60 outfits along with backups, and it’s an entire situation. That along with the changeover time between the main set and the encore makes it interesting.”
The time in between for the band members was most definitely rushed, but for the audience, they were waiting with anticipation for the encore. When the members finally appeared on stage once again, Lee stole the show with a Cucculelli Shaheen dress that shone bright and caused a temporary pause from the songs and sole focus on the breathtaking sight of the silver dress she donned on stage. Even though the encore was a completely different aesthetic, the sounds were still the soothing melodies the audience was used to hearing. The incorporation of diametrically opposing elements is not unfamiliar to Khruangbin though.
On the topic of working with Leon Bridges, another Texas native, Lee had some gems on the nature of the collaboration.
“There are ways that it was harder and ways that it was easier than just working with Khruangbin. It’s harder since you’re working in a new way that forces you to write around somebody rather than just with someone else. But then it was easier because we didn’t have to worry about singing and you just get to lift Leon’s voice in a way. But I think it was really beautiful and it really challenged us as producers and arrangers and it will be impossible to have that not influence the way we approach our next project.”
Bridges clearly pushed the band to new lengths with their recent collaborations, and this energy was present within the band’s aura as well as the audience’s. With people dancing, swaying or standing in awe, it’s clear I wasn’t the only one taken by their infectious vibes. With Khruangbin, it’s more than just music they want to share. At the crossroads of culture, creativity, collaboration and curation, they exemplify a new form of music that is free from the bonds of tradition and genre.
Khruangbin and Leon Bridges’ new EP Texas Moon is available now on Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify and all other major music streaming platforms. Although, these songs will never do justice to the awesome visuals and synesthetic set that this band blessed us with at The Sylvee.