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The King Khan & BBQ Show- The Year of the Tiger

July 19, 2010

(note to reader: this is a follow-up to a previous post, which you can read here.)

老虎. lǎo hǔ. tiger

Sometime in June.

Sometimes you can’t help yourself from thinking certain thoughts.  In particular, those completely ridiculous, illogical and absurd ones. Yesterday while walking to the bank I stubbed my toe on a piece of protruding cement.  I was heading to the ATM to take out cash so I could go to the chinese supermarket and buy groceries for the band coming in–King Khan & BBQ.  It hurt like a bitch and in the instant moment of anger I thought, “here I am, twenty-six, running errands for a couple of unknown rock-musicians coming into town.  This is not a good sign.”

But this morning there was another ridiculous thought.  I had hung all my clothes out on the roof to dry overnight.  As I put the clean clothes away I was shocked to find out that I had all my socks.  Not one had gotten lost.  “Now this,” I thought, “doesn’t happen often.  This is a good sign.  Tonight will be great.”

“I was up until 6:30am,” Nathaniel, founder of Split Works tells me on the phone.  “You’ll have a lot of fun with them, but they definitely like to party.”  Nathaniel had just dropped them off at the airport in Shanghai, and I would be picking up the montreal based-duo at T3 of the Beijing Airport.

Well, as it turned out. That saturday night’s show was a disaster. A writer from City Weekend Beijing wrote, “In my time here I’ve seen foreign indie rock bands from Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Australia, Israel, America, the UK and France. For the most part, they’ve been very respectful and well received. These guys were the most obnoxious, arrogant pricks ever to grace a Chinese stage.”

And having been there it is true that “relations between the two [khan and sultan] were volatile and the tension spilled over to both the crowd and sound guy.” The music itself was good, but the vibe just wasn’t there.  And it wasn’t just the bands fault either–mainly I place a lot of blame on D-22 (the venue) for booking 3-bands in front of them, cutting off the bar tab, etc.

There are origins to this tension though.  And it all exploded at an event in Australia at the Sydney Opera house, where  Lou Reed was hosting an event.  Here is a summary of what went down from ChartAttack. I think you’ll find it amusing.

CHARTattack wrote:

When Neil Young said that it’s better to burn out than to fade away, I doubt he had a flying snake, four dancing Chinese girls, and a feast of stone crab and Peking duck in mind. Then again, when you’re talking about a band as out there as The King Khan & BBQ Show, any breakup was bound to happen in spectacular fashion.

In a lengthy article posted on The Daily Swarm, Khan himself described the sad sequence of events that has led to the demise of the garage rock mainstays. The duo were booked to play two nights at Australia’s VIVID Live Festival, which was curated by Lou Reed and his wife Laurie Anderson. The festival is produced by and held at the famed Sydney Opera House, normally an establishment of high brow entertainment.

The King Khan & BBQ Show are known for their wacky and spontaneous approach to live performance (especially after the private show Khan gave Lindsay Lohan in Cannes), so it should have come to nobody’s surprise that the first concert began with a feast personally prepared by King Khan, who took it upon himself to deliver a plate of crab, white rice, fruit, veggies and duck up to the balcony where Reed was sitting.

Shenanigans then ensued, as a minor food fight broke out, a large rubber snake was tossed into the audience, and audience members ended up dancing on stage a-la-Iggy & The Stooges. That’s your typical Khan and BBQ show, right? Khan would probably think so, as he repeatedly insists “NO ONE WAS HURT AND EVERYBODY DANCED.”

Well, apparently the folks at the Sydney Opera House weren’t amused because after the show, Khan was presented with a list of “do nots” for the next night, with the Opera House citing safety concerns. Namely, the rubber snake was not welcome, on-stage audience members would have to be limited to four, and there was to be no more feeding the audience.

Performance number two was relatively toned down, and only included some spilled wine and beer and a game of catch the guitar between Khan and several audience members.

But things got worse when the show ended.

“Returning to the backstage I opened the door to a scowling BBQ…. A HUGE SCREAMING MATCH ensued and so went the demise of the King Khan & BBQ show….,” he wrote. “we agreed that this would be the last show ever. Wow…. what a way to die!!!! After nearly 7 years…. oh well… Lets get fucked up!!!!”

The next day, Khan says he returned to the Opera House to discover his backstage pass had been confiscated, he was not allowed to attend any more shows and would be arrested for trespassing if he ever showed up on the premises again.

“There you have it Australia…. SHAME ON YOUR OPERA HOUSE…. and the white power it is built on,” he wrote. “If I could take legal action against the Opera House for humiliating me and taunting me in what was meant to be the highest point in my career as a musician/magician I certainly would….


“Ask any Thai Masseuse…. this was no happy ending…. Please help me light a candle under the powers that be…. BOYCOTT THE OPERA HOUSE…..”


So yeah, you get the idea.  And a day before they were scheduled to leave Australia we got a call from their manager saying, “we have lost Arish.”  In other words he had disappeared and nobody knew where he was.  But he showed up at the airport and made it to Shanghai–only after his efforts (still to this day), however, to start a Black Tigers Foundation in Australia for the aboriginal’s.

In the parting-words from Khan to the Daily Swarm:

Live long and fight the good fight
Your brother from another mother
King “Black Snake” Khan
President and Founder of the Black Tigers Foundation for Self Defense, Self Preservation, Voodoo & Public Relations….
RISE ABOVE…. We’re gonna RISE ABOVE!!!!!


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