Chromatic Soundscapes

The Sonic Route of Khruangbin

Live at The Fillmore, San Francisco, April 1 2018

Words & Photos by Corgam

Admittedly ashamed to confess the fairly recent discovery of Khruangbin, it has been however one that has brought immense pleasure to the senses. The band released their second album “Con Todo el Mundo” (With All the World) in early 2018, and it’s already a year’s favorite; it follows their 2015 debut “The Universe Smiles Upon You” whose album cover is a visual delight as well.


Inspired by Southeast Asian Funk, Rock and Psychedelia, Khruangbin presents an exquisite collection of (mostly instrumental) songs carefully curated to  ease minds and transport the listener to another realm, one full of bright colors submerged in a super chill atmosphere. An urge to see them live took hold. Fortunately, their current tour stopped for two nights in San Francisco, I was there for the first one.

Their live renditions don’t differ much from what you hear on the album, the impeccably clean,  smooth, and at times mysterious tone of guitarist Mark Spear, the steady, simple beat of drummer DJ and the groovy lines of bassist Laura Lee; the sporadic vocals are all there, but granted, the extra ingredient in any live performance is indeed, the performance.

The trio materialize  the chromatic force of their music with their own personalities. Dressed in a tailored gray and shiny suit, rocking creamy colored cowboy boots, with a long haired brown wig and armed with his weapon of choice, a Fender Stratocaster, Mike Spear is a badass dandy. His stage presence is like his skill on the instrument, impeccable. The man owns the stage. Drummer DJ looks like he just stepped out of a Western film, he  wears a silky tunic and kicks the drumbass with black leather boots, though could not really see the guy from the very front of the stage, since his cymbal was right in front of his face the whole time, an absolute bummer, but maybe it was the price to pay in order to see the trio’s magnetic force that is Laura Lee up close. Her sensual moves are as seductive as her bass lines, she wears a tight black top and a long, rainbow-y skirt (most likely an homage to San Francisco’s Gay scene and referencing the Castro, but also very appropriate with the whole theme of chromatism) with high heel sandals and like Spear, she rocks a wig that echoes a modern Cleopatra, but such a queen in her own right.

The band is pure style, sonically and aesthetically; they wow with their eloquent minimalism. Within minutes of their set starting off, you can smell the flowers blooming in the main floor of The Fillmore as the music evolves into an epic trip.