Long-running, cult favorite, seminal doo wop punk duo The King Khan and BBQ Show (featuring garage rock favorite King Khan and fellow Canadian garage punk trailblazer Mark Sultan, a.k.a. BBQ), have been a bit more intermittent in activity in recent years, balancing their respective solo and side projects, while still finding time every few years to record and tour the world. Returning to Nashville for the first time since 2015 (the same year their last LP dropped), the duo are set to headline The Basement East tonight, Aug. 9, with local grungy alt rockers Thelma and the Sleaze, whose sophomore LP Fuck. Marry. Kill. just dropped today, tapped to open. A must-see for fans of unadulterated, riotous rock and roll, tickets are available right here while they last, and you can read on for more about the show!
THE KING KHAN AND BBQ SHOW
One of the most important underground figures of the last several decades, Canadian born King Khan cut his teeth in the Montreal punk and garage scene in the ’90s, taking part in several celebrated and bombastic acts before ultimately honing his focus to form King Khan and the Shrines in 1999. A brass-laden, eclectic garage rock outfit with punk sensibilities and influences of psychedelic soul, the group have, over the course of two decades and eight full-length releases, become staples in the garage rock scene. The band have appeared in film and in television, curated soundtracks, toured the world with likeminded acts, and have performed at countless festivals stateside and abroad. Khan himself, now based in Germany with his family, has also found time to form a supergroup with The Black Lips, and another with prominent punk figures, launch a side project with the Wu Tang’s GZA, form a label, and generally serve as something of an elder statesmen of the underground scene.
Also hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Mark Sultan cut his teeth in the same underground punk scene, beginning in his youth with raucous outfit Powersquat, before being recruited by local punk band The Spaceshits to serve as lead singer. It was in this group that Sultan first met Khan, who later joined as bassist, performing under the pseudonym Blacksnake, with the band going on to tour and gaining some underground punk notoriety, particularly for their wild and sometimes violent shows which would often only last for a few minutes, and got them banned from many venues. After the group’s split, Sultan went on to form Les Sexareenos, and by the early ’00s had begun making solo music with a one-man-band setup, adopting the moniker BBQ, which has carried forward ever since. More recent years have seen Mark take part in high-profile teamups like Almighty Defenders (with Khan and The Black Lips) and The Ding Dongs, as well as release music under his own name, remaining, like Khan, something of a revered and influential elder statesmen of the Montreal punk and garage scene, if sometimes one who’s more overlooked.
While Khan’s decision to stay in Germany contributed to the end of the The Spaceshits, it was only a few years later that Sultan reconnected with his former bandmate, first contributing to The Shrines, before the pair found themselves writing in Khan’s German apartment, formally coming together as The King Khan and BBQ Show, recording their eponymous debut LP in ’04, and dipping their toes into performing around Europe, before embarking on tours of the globe. Serving as co-frontmen and multi-instrumentalists, the band combines the pair’s punk and garage rock ethos with a passion for early doo wop, r&b, and blues, earning them critical acclaim and a cult following, and helping drive the doo wop punk movement of the ’00s which still resonates today. After two more well-received LPs, 2006’s What’s for Dinner? and 2009’s Invisible Girl, and following increasingly more high-profile tours, festival appearances, and even a show at the Sydney Opera House curated by Lou Reed, mounting pressure and infighting caused the duo to announce a split in 2010. Only a year later, however, they were already back together and talking about new music, all the while maintaining respectable solo careers, supergroups, and more. Recent years have seen The King Khan and BBQ Show’s activity become a bit more intermittent, with only one LP, 2015’s Bad News Boys, released this decade, but their live show remains as riotous and unrivaled as ever, as does their respective and combined lasting influence on punk and garage rock. It’s not often the pair make it to Music City- don’t miss out!
THELMA AND THE SLEAZE
We’ve been raving about the wacky, trashy antics and immensely fun and kickass live performance of local grungy, alt rock outfit Thelma and the Sleaze for years, so anytime they play a show, whether it’s somewhere you never expected to see a band like a McDonald’s or laundromat, or somewhere more conventional like a club, we’ll always recommend them. Two years in the making, the band finally released their debut album, Somebody’s Doin Somethin, back in 2017, following a couple of killer EPs, hundreds of tour dates, lineup changes (frontwoman Lauren Gilbert remains the constant), near-breakups, and even an award-winning documentary chronicling a month-long intracity tour. Though they’ve continued to be an important part of Nashville’s underground rock scene, the group have especially ramped up activity lately, with news that their highly-anticipated sophomore LP, dubbed Fuck. Marry. Kill., will arrive the day of the show, preempted by the release of great new single “Pain.” If you’ve never seen Thelma in action, shame on you, but this is a perfect opportunity, and a stellar choice to open what is a great show from top to bottom. Don’t be late!
The King Khan and BBQ Show and Thelma and the Sleaze will perform tonight, Aug. 9 at The Basement East. The show is 21+, begins at 9 p.m. (doors at 8 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $17.