Pitchfork Music Festival 2008: The Supreme Genius Of King Khan

By Amrit Singh and Brandon Stosuy

There may have been bands with better songs or tighter chops, but the most impressive all-around performer of the weekend was King Khan … because he never stopped performing. The Canadian/German-based garage rocker was everywhere, and everywhere dressed (or undressed) to the nines. The first time we spotted him — early on Saturday — he was wearing an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt (round belly exposed for all the world to see), short shorts, a million necklace baubles, and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat. It turned out to be his tamest getup.

He gave us (and dozens of others) ice cream from the Ice Cream Man’s truck (awarding one person with an empty box as a “hat”). He shot kids with water guns, while wearing a mask and tight spandex-style shorts which left nothing to the imagination. He donned his cape and played with dry ice. He joked and cajoled and wore beaded headgear. At one point, he tried to peg High Places with a beach ball, but it bounced off the stage’s scaffolding (he was chased away by a security guard). He also managed to tear through his own trashy soul set, with a cheerleader, horns, and less clothes than ever, splitting time between the stage, the audience, and the security divider. Les Savy Fav were on at the mainstage at the same time, but after walking over to catch the tail of that set, we’re pretty sure Khan out Harrington’d Tim Harrington.

The King’s weekend wound up in suitably unpredictable and memorable fashion: Cut Copy’s B-stage-closing set looked to be a wash because of a hugely delayed flight in from Australia (via L.A.). Enter King Khan and Bradford Cox, along with the Ponys’ Jered, and a momentary cameo from Jay Reatard, to stall with a sort of stand-up bluesy garage set. Khan stole the day, by saving it.

But the real genius of King Khan? Knowing suckers like us would pay attention to and write about some dude wandering around in a Roman-style centurion helmet/mask and banana hammock with a boundless amount of hamminess. Well done, sir.





[Photos by Amrit]