Thursday at Canadian Music Week: Lyon, Ten Second Epic, King Khan and the BBQ Show

Canadian Music Week jumped out at me from behind some bushes this week. Feeling completely unprepared for the nightly deliberation process required to pick out a few bands to see, the extravaganza began. I started Thursday night at Adelaide Hall. When I arrived to the venue, it occurred to me that I had broken the first rule of music festivals: always double check the schedule. Instead of seeing Teenage Head, as I had picked out in one of my few decisive CMW moments, I was surprised to find Lyon, a local indie-synth-pop group. The band was really good, but it was difficult for me to appreciate while coping with the sting of my lunchbox letdown.

I decided to stick around for Ten Second Epic since, well, I was already there. The venue was full, or at least seemed like it with the bizarre multi-level layout, and so I thought I would see what caused the fuss. I knew from the first thrashing hair-twirl that they were totally not my style. Their cheesy guitars and unison choruses brought me back to a place much more pop-punk than this; a place that, say, Pete Wentz, Benji Madden or other ghosts of trends past may hang out. My opinion appeared to be the minority, though, since the packed house bobbed along with their every chord. I got out of there.

I hurried to The Garrison to pick up the pieces of my night with King Khan and the BBQ Show. The duo, made up of guitarist / vocalist King Khan and guitarist / foot drummer, Mark Sultan, are full of antics. They played the show in black turtle necks fashioned with nipple holes, blonde wigs and studded leather masks. They show their asses, grab their crotches, do shots on stage and, if necessary, throw them up.

Khan is a stylish vocalist and a wiggly dancer while Sultan stays seated and has a sweeter voice. Both are incredible guitarists, Sultan doing more rhythm while Khan played more riffs. Together they create a garage-punk shuffle that is incredibly fun. These two have been playing together since Spaceshits in the nineties and so I think what I saw was more two friends getting silly and playing music, rather than a calculated performance. They played a handful of new songs and a few I recognized from Invisible Girl. I particularly liked the Sultan-lead songs with Khan’s voice doo-wopping beneath his croon. The set was short partly due to all of the antics, but they did have a second set of the festival that promised to be longer. The crowd riotously pleaded for “ONE! MORE! SONG!” but were denied. It probably wasn’t King Khan’s best show considering their amp problems, duct taped guitar straps, song re-starts, and on-stage vomit, but it was still glorious in all of its absurdity.

Thursday night, I sawa couple of average bands play really clean sets and a really radical band play like a mess. I preferred the latter.

Hilary Johnston
Hilary Johnston is a writer, event manager and musician from Toronto.
Hilary Johnston