Review: Khruangbin Clears the Skies for Their Ethereal Set at Salt Shed

Khruangbin scratches an itch in my brain that not many other bands can really do for me. You don’t often come across bands like this remarkable trio of psychedelic geniuses that is Khruangbin. The native Texas band made their way out to Chicago for a three-night mini residency at the Salt Shed last weekend in support of their new album, A LA SALA.  

Saturday's show was all sold out, and rightfully so. It was honestly impressive to see the band draw such massive crowds on all three nights of their stop in Chicago and to see that this type of music is absolutely thriving! Although it was storming all day, the skies cleared up the second Khruangbin took the stage. Khruangbin is famously known for its two guitarists, Laura Lee and Mark Speer, to be wearing matching black wigs. They walked out following their drummer, DJ Johnson, as an explosion of fog flooded the stage. I had never seen so much fog coming from a fog machine all at once but it definitely made for an impressive stage setup. The trio each positioned themselves in front of three window arches on stage and the crowd welcomed them with thunderous cheers. The three looked absolutely stunning and gave off an almost ethereal presence.

The three arches also served as screens and made for a rather interesting stage. They used various visuals of the sky to create a window effect matching the theme of their latest record perfectly. Khruangbin jumped right into it, dividing the evening into two acts. We were fortunate enough that this first act was a complete front-to-back play-through of their new album A LA SALA. There is just something so special and memorable about shows where artists play entire albums front to back.

Khruangbin is known for their instrumental funk and psychedelic flair. They compliment some of their tracks with minimal vocals but overall they are exclusively an instrumental band. Now this can sometimes be dangerous territory for a band because most people tend to talk through quieter sets, however, the entire fairgrounds at the Salt Shed was completely n tune with the band, letting the music really shine through the rainy afternoon. The trio jammed their souls out and before we knew it, they went off stage for a quick break before the second half of their set; which consisted of a handful of their greatest hits from their previous works.

Although they had already played through their entire new album, Khruangbin was just getting started and they definitely had so much more energy to burn. The band jammed through and played some of my old favorites of theirs, “August Twelve” which has a very funky buildup into an eruption of noisy but catchy guitar riffs. They also performed “Pelota” and “María También” which are two of my absolute favorite tracks of theirs. Their live renditions were absolutely jaw dropping and had the entire city rumbling with the good vibes the band brought out with their highly layered music.

Totaling about two hours in length, Khruangbin finally came down to their encore and concluded the evening with a short compilation of “White Gloves,” “So We Won’t Forget,” and “Bin Bin.” You could say it was the power of the magical sounds that Khruangbin produces that strayed the rain away last Saturday which turned into a perfect June evening in the city. Khruangbin is heavily responsible for my exploration of instrumental jam bands. And while I have discovered aplethora of artists, Khruangbin's style is so distinct and polished and even without lyrics, it is not difficult to tell it's these three masters of their craft when one of their songs comes on.

All photos by Andrew Lagunas.

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Julian Ramirez