The King Khan & BBQ Show / Dead Ghosts Biltmore, Vancouver BC July 14
Published Jul 16, 2012Vancouver troglodytes (meaning fans of the Troggs) Dead Ghosts seemed rather unsure of themselves as they set up and tuned between songs. Lead vocalist Bryan Nicol noted that they play a short set with really long breaks in between, as he apologized and tweaked the sound. The rock gods weren't terribly kind either as Drew Wilkinson broke two strings on lead guitar in one track, forcing Nicol to use the mic to borrow one from the headliner.
Yet, when they weren't sheepishly meandering around stage and actually got to playing, the band displayed no need for jitters. With Nicol pushing his voice to the brink, and the rest of the group locked in focus, Dead Ghosts had the right attitude and energy for their style of lo-fi '60s garage rock, as the outbursts of moshing proved.
Within moments, Mark "BBQ" Sultan and Arish "King" Khan demonstrated that they had even harsher vocals than Nicol, but that didn't much affect the show. With Khan wearing a Jewish hat with payot sidelocks and Sultan dressed as an Arab sheik, the King Khan & BBQ Show are not your grandpappy's doo-wop band. Khan's raunchy riffs and Sultan's tribal drumming -- compressed into deceptively sharp yet seemingly effortless vintage rock jams and ballads -- tap into the oil-stained, riot-starting, instrument-smashing side of the '60s rave-up and '70s pogo-like-a-bastard, and mainlines it into the present.
The Montreal-based duo played fast and loose in just their second performance after the well-publicized Sydney blow-out of 2010. Their fervent energy compressed in the small venue to keep the mosh pit churning and send several flannel-clad gentlemen surfing mere inches away from the nine-foot ceiling. Beer cans and booze steadily flew only two songs in, and before long, girls began bum-rushing the stage for extra go-go room, until a nervous looking bouncer took roost at the back left to maintain order. The band didn't seem to pay them much mind, though, sticking to their tasks at hand, playing each song like it was their last.