PHOTOS: Khruangbin takes the Fox on a mellow trip

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Khruangbin

Khruangbin performs at the Fox Theater in Oakland on Nov. 9, 2018. Photos: Shawn Robbins.

OAKLAND – Khruangbin transported the Fox Theater audience of youthful millennials and older crate-digging record store nerds to a relaxed place Friday night.

Bassist Laura Lee, guitarist (and birthday boy) Mark Speer and drummer Donald Johnson walked onto the stage and opened with unreleased cut “Bin Bin” before continuing with “Cómo Me Quieres,” off 2018’s Con Todo El Mundo. The track demands intimacy and even in a larger venue, Khruangbin has the ability to make people feel like they’re the only ones in the room.

Khruangbin

Laura Lee of Khruangbin

With newer tracks like “Maria También” and “Lady and Man,” Lee and Speer draw strong influence from The Impossibles and Sutrak Aksonthong, the two main blueprints to the Khruangbin sound, alongside the many Quentin Tarantino soundtrack comparisons.

The show included songs from the band’s 2015 album, The Universe Smiles Upon You. Songs like the beautifully simplistic and cinematic “August Twelve” and “Mr. White” could score a slow bike ride on a foggy morning along the Bay. Khruangbin next broke into what appeared to be a Dr. Dre “Next Episode” cover-intensive medley. The band continued to put a twist on a few classics, including a cover of Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day.” The medley put each member’s talents on full display.

Khruangbin

Mark Speer of Khruangbin

As almost a gift to those who weren’t familiar with its songs, Khruangbin paid homage to the sweet samples of several hip-hop tracks. From David McCallum’s “The Edge” to “Mystic Brew,” by Ronnie Foster, the band displayed its hip-hop knowledge and deep foundations in soul. Even Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day” sample of The Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps in the Dark” got the smooth Johnson drumming treatment.

Khruangbin emerged for a three-song encore that included its more upbeat and danceable “People Everywhere (Still Alive).” Fans got the hint, dancing and swaying along to a band that transcends genres.

Will Van Horn,

Will Van Horn

Houston pedal steel guitarist Will Van Horn opened the show with a set of calm ambient Southern-influenced folk songs. He and his band performed mostly covers, including songs by Bjork, Dick Dale, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Mulatu Astatke, as well as a funky version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” The renditions weren’t too far off what a Khruangbin audience would listen to. Each song created a laid-back vibe.

Follow photographer Shawn Robbins at Instagram.com/photo_robbins and Twitter.com/ShawnTheRobbins.

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