KHRUANGBIN

Published on April 24th, 2022

Texas trio Khruangbin have been festival darlings since their 2015 debut album, “The Universe Smiles Upon You.” But their fans are clearly excited to see them on their own: The mainly-instrumental band’s headlining Miami Beach show in May quickly sold out, leading to a second date with the same result.

Their popularity may not just be due to their sound, which isn’t always easy to define — are they funk? Psychedelic rock? Were they a session band in a previous life? The beautiful thing about Khruangbin isn’t just their smooth funkiness or their effortless blend of psych, soul and dub. It’s that they seem to be able to please multiple audiences while producing a singular, authentic sound. You won’t find many bands who have worked or opened for Bonobo, Leon Bridges, Massive Attack and Father John Misty — distinct artists with distinct sounds. Yet Khurangbin goes over with fans of all four.

Bassist Laura Lee and guitarist Mark Speer don long black wigs, looking like an eerie yet cool twin brother and sister, while drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson offsets with a shaved head and beard. The result is a group representative of America’s complicated diversity, full of different races and backgrounds, not unlike their music.

While “The Universe” gave off clear Thai funk sounds from the get-go, their follow-up, “Con Todo El Mundo,” brought in more Latin rhythms, all while still keeping that psychedelic flow. Though both of these releases were critically admired, music publications were less fond of their third full-length, 2020’s “Mordechai,” which introduced more wispy vocals from Lee.

But fans remain thrilled, and the band is staying on an experimental streak that started with “Mordechai” and a 2020 EP featuring singer Bridges, “Texas Sun,” and continues with this year’s “Texas Moon.” The latter beautifully frames Bridges’ velvety neo-soul vocals with wavy guitar riffs and groovy bass lines. So feel free to tune out the critics and just chill to some Khruangbin in the golden hour.

Khruangbin and Toro y Moi perform 8pm Saturday May 7 and Sunday May 8 at the Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater. khruangbin.com ~ Olivia Feldman

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