Before there were bruises though, there was the evening, and like the unprecedented heat that plagued Boston over the weekend, it started out smoking hot. A little after 8 p.m. Boston-based “muslim-punk” band the Kominas walked on stage. I was immediately drawn in by the boy’s deconstructed — or possibly reconstructed? — dhotis, which had been revamped with a bric-a-brac of polk-a-dots and various other fabrics. The bassist, Basim Usmani, additionally had his own take, sporting a tartan plaid sarong; oddly enough, there was something undeniably sexy about a man in a skirt and high-tops; something undeniably punk rock. Call me girly for being caught up in the aesthetic, but trust me when I say the clothes lent themselves to the theatrics of the event.
The music of the Kominas paralleled the dress code in the sense, that I found myself standing there, up against the barrier, excitedly trying to establish a baseline of influences, an unexpected melting pot of sound. All of which, might I add, in my head seemed fundamentally impossible to blend. At times, I was blushing at what sounded like the background music to my youth: Rancid, Pepper and the Aquabats, all pop-punk and ska-ish. But, then more, classic homages to the Cramps and the Ramones reverberated from Shahjehan Khan’s guitar as the man in question did backward somersaults on the floor of the stage.
What really surprised myself and fellow audience members was when the group broke out into melodies that screamed of disco: John Travolta, strutting out onto a light-up floor in Saturday Night Fever. There was even the occasional nod to reggae, as well. This all sounds atrocious, as I write it out, but it wasn’t. It was amazing. In between songs, band members doubled as comedians, and furthermore graciously assisted one another when guitar straps and cables came undone (which seemed to be somewhat of a theme for the set). In short, “Taqwacore” group, the Kominas won my heart, and those who also decided to turn up early to the evening’s festivities, with their original, slightly befuddling essence.
Next came Canadian duo King Khan and The BBQ Show. Like something out of what I wish existed: a comic book where super-hero luchadores rocking rhinestone embellished loin clothes, mustard, sparkling capes, and fantastical masks play rock instruments. Arish Ahmad (King Khan) and Mark Sultan (BBQ) come and save humanity from a world where humans are forced to listen the evil doings of major record labels and subsequent shitty Top 40 music.
Fans began to do their usual thing, hopping around, with their arms jutting out every so often. Not quite a mosh pit, not quite a dance move. I think this is where the bruises on my forearms come in.
The venue had filled up and the group kept the spirit of rock and roll alive with the illusion to sleeping in a parking lot the night before, and hilarious banter including comments such as “the penis has left the building”. King Khan’s naked gut brought the comedic relief of the evening to an all time high, as the two played through a long list of their classics. The energy of room was tangible, as patriotic flashes of red, white, and blue lights reflected upon them. What I believe to be a few new songs were imparted upon the audience, and they were unsurprisingly well-received. As usual, King Khan and The BBQ Show tantalized listeners with the devilish mix of rhythm and blues, doo-wop, and punk rock. Thank you, can I have another… please?
After their set ended, a very sweaty… a very energized audience emptied out of the venue. Like an upstream school of salmon hundreds of concertgoers dumped out into the gulf of the street desperately searching for their nicotine fix. I indulged myself, as well. As I swiped shoulders here and there, I heard enthusiastic comments: “I’m like deaf right now”, says random Allston-ite. With ears that are still ringing (seriously, I had a hard time sleeping because of it), such a phenomena made me laugh, and I couldn’t help but commiserate.
I returned to the venue and inched my way back up to the front after the “cigarette break” and waited for the Black Lips to play. Finally, sometime after 10ish the Georgia-natives, flower punkers, and notorious heathens meandered on stage. I was really depressed when Ian Saint Pé, one of the group’s long time members and guitarists, often clad in gold grills and vulcanized vans, WAS NOT ON STAGE. What’s even more depressing is that apparently Saint Pé has left the group. I guess the days of making out between frontman Cole Alexander and him are gone for good.
On a more positive note, the band enlisted Jack Hines who turns out to have been one of the original, founding members of the Black Lips to replace the former member. Outside of the Black Lips, Hines has most notably also been in the K-holes.
There seemed to be a lot of chemistry between Hines, and bassist Jared Swilley, but it seemed like guitarist Cole Alexander, all the way on the opposite end of the stage was disconnected from the bunch. Although, we were entertained with a dozen loogies catapulted from Alexander’s mouth, only to be caught again by the same opening on his face, mid-air and all at once, I was hoping for more enthusiasm, and less spitting. Maybe he was just tired, or maybe… he was just really stoned. Or, and this could definitely be it, I’m just delusional.
Obviously, the group played a string of their relatively older hits: “Dirty Hands,” “Oh Katrina!,” and “Not A Problem” are just a few of the stand-outs. At one point I found my self falling, willingly into the center of the weird pushy, groovy circle of kids on the dance floor…. only to find my boss somewhere in the mix. I’m sure I’ll lose my job for saying this, but it’s all in the spirit of an awesome show, pushing him around was SO liberating, and hey, he got a few jabs at me to!
From a spinning haze of sweaty bodies and smiling faces, the audience echoed the words to all of the Black Lips more recent songs, like “Family Tree,” “Modern Art,” and tracks off of their newest record Underneath The Rainbow, such as “Drive By Buddy” and “Boys in the Wood.” All in all the band left the stage with an audience begging for more.
The hands-down, best part of the evening (potentially best moment in music history), was when in the encore, the Black Lips along with King Khan and the BBQ show re-emerged as the Almighty Defenders. Pinch me, is this real life? The crowd went ballistic. I found myself to be the ultimate fangirl. As the group played “All My Loving,” “Cone of Light,” “Ghost With The Most,” and “Bow Down and Die,” I found myself (embarrassingly) heaving my upper half body up onto the barrier (enter stomach bruises here), screaming at the top of my lungs. At which point, this is the part that kills me, King Khan comes over grabs my face and sings the words to the songs with me, in the microphone. It was surreal. Afterwards, the girl next me looked over and shouted in my ear, “did that just happen?” in which I responded, “I’m not really sure”, “Wow”, she said, “that was awesome.”
Awesome seems to be a word that has been used a lot in the write-up: and awesome it was.
The pinnacle of my existence came to a head that night, and as I wandered down the streets of Boston, I feel like I could die now and be satisfied, bruises and all. Black Lips, King Khan and The BBQ Show, and The Kominas came, saw and conquered all.
All photos by Madi Silvers. Follow her on Twitter @MadiSilvers.