Nothing felt better — at noon, during the third day of Newport Folk Festival — than standing in the shade of the enormous tent covering the "Quad Stage" and grooving to the globally-influenced funk, jazz, surf and psychedelic stew that is Khruangbin.
A power trio of an entirely different kind, this Houston band — Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Johnson on drums and piano — delivered a set pretty evenly split between their Thai-funk influenced 2015 debut, The Universe Smiles Upon You, and this year's more Middle Eastern-leaning album, Con Todo El Mundo. The pinnacle moment came with an instrumental medley that showcased a less obvious, and truly American, influence on their sound — hip-hop.
Follow along, if you can. The trio took us on a journey that seamlessly moved from Dr. Dre's "Next Episode" to Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day", on to Warren G's "Regulate" before circling back to Leon Haywood's 1975 hit "I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You" (famously sampled by Dr. Dre on "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang"). From there, "Summer Madness" by Kool & the Gang and finally bringing it in for a landing with Luniz's "I Got 5 On It" feat. Michael Marshall and "Mary Jane" by Rick James. Hearing these songs all through the Khruangbin sonic filter was not only a masterful live mixtape, but in the backdrop of Newport Folk Festival, was an exciting way to make musical worlds intersect.
Technical Director:Josh Rogosin; Production Assistant: Téa Mottolese ; Location Recording facilities Provided by Aura-Sonic, Ltd.; Producer: Suraya Mohamed; Photography: Adam Kissick.