Writer Jasmine Khan / Photographer Ewan Williamson
It’s a pretty late start time of 9pm for hard to place psych band Brain Food at the Hare and Hounds on Saturday night; but the late evening atmosphere definitely suits their tumultuous sound.
The stage lights come up in green and blue, and Brain Food’s synthy keys played by Connor Scott hits the crowd immediately, splicing through melodic guitars plucked by frontman Liam Mckeown and Liam Rhodes. William Scarrott’s bass is like a lazy river swimming around in the twisted rhythms. Connor Doyle’s drums are sharp, the tempo picking up while symbols crash around the main body of Brain Food’s sound.
There’s a narrative, a tale building behind Brain Food, one that flits between a dream and a nightmare, as if you’re grasping onto reality in the downward spiral of a bad trip.
Synths and pedals are now in full effect and we’re whirling with Brain Food through space, Liam Mckeown’s vocals as our only guide. His voice is full of personality, cooing and projecting at just the right moments, long hair flowing behind him as Liam poses enigmatically with a teal Fender Jazzmaster.
Brain Food’s track, ‘Piggy Piggy Piggy’ brags a swifter pace. What could have been described as melodic psych rock becomes heavier, somehow doomy and their sound develops with a strong garage psych element. The bass goes into overdrive and the swiftness and skill of Scarrott’s (excuse me) fingering, has my skank face dialled-up to the max.
Brain Food’s instruments helter-skelter, crescendo and then crash into a stunning sticky mess of sound.
I love it when the supports’ set could have easily been the headliners. I also love it when the vibe is maintained my excellent mid-set grooves, so thanks to T-Bird for that.
King Khan (Daddy), isn’t on stage when The Shrines begin displaying their technical musical prowess. The drums already have clear jazz elements with gentle skits running effortlessly over the main beat. There’s keys, two saxophonists, a trumpet, guitar, bass and countless tambourines scattered around the stage.
As the noise on stage becomes frenzied, brass chopping across the rumbling percussion, a booming voice emanates from the speakers – drum roll please. ‘Ladies and Gentleman, the man from the jungle of love. The one. The only. King Khan!’
Enter King Khan, a queer Bollywood icon, a maharaja dripping in patent gold sequins and crowned with an elaborate gold headdress. Daddy grabs the mic with authority and lets out a hearty crow, cutting through the crowd’s anticipation. We roar back our appreciation in response.
The set is choreographed excellently, oozing ironic cheesiness as the strings step from side to side in almost perfect time, pointing the arms of their guitars towards the audience and then away again on the beat. Daddy’s voice bellows into the audience and there’s a deep guttural note coming from the trumpet.
Khan scats whilst intently strumming his guitar, the sound forever building as synth sounds join just before the break down and the keys player lifts up his instrument and carries into the crowd. Not once, not twice, but three times across the course of the set.
F*ck me, who jumps into the crowd with keys.
There’s a full outfit change for Daddy, this time it is a skin-tight, grape purple, bodysuit trimmed with lavender fur, like a bird of paradise.
Khan caws again, the trumpet player picks up a flute and we’re transported to a psychedelic jungle. You can barely see the drum sticks or the bassist fingers as the sound gets heavier and heavier, and people start to bump into each other in that friendly but oh so competitive way.
The crowd mosh, but I abandon my notebook to join as the energy in the room peaks. Daddy (deliberately) scratches his crotch whilst staring into the audience – filthy.
It’s unsurprising that the encore, which was definitely planned but oh well, encompasses the third, final, and most outrageous outfit change of the evening. In black hotpants/chaps and a sheer negligee, King Khan brings the show to a triumphant close.
To take a look and what King Khan and the Shrines are doing go their website here: www.facebook.com/brainfoodofficial
For more from Brain Food, take a look at their social media via: www.facebook.com/brainfoodofficial
For more from the Hare and Hounds, including their gig schedule, go to www.thehareandhounds.co.uk