Khruangbin celebrate 'A LA SALA' at one of three Met shows in Philadelphia - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
I have been a fan of Laura Lee Ochoa, Mark Speer, and DJ Johnson, better known as Khruangbin, ever since a friend of mine texted me their song “August 10,” in 2019. Three years later the trio from Houston, Texas made sure that I would continue being a fan when they rocked the house at The Met in 2022. This past Tuesday, Khruangbin came back with a new album A La Sala, but also came back to The Met and reminded Philly fans like myself why we love their music so much.
Outside the Met were different vendor trucks that were serving drinks and a DJ playing music which gave the feeling of a festival. The opening act was a keyboardist John Carol Kirby from Los Angeles, California. Alongside Kirby were four other musicians, another pianist, bass player, drummer and flutist. They were all funky, especially the flutist who was getting down and moving to the music beating played throughout the set. I’m not very familiar with John Carol Kirby, but I do enjoy listening to jazz music, so it was nice to see him and the other musicians play together on stage. The last song they did, the flutist pulled out a saxophone and began to add a different sound to the grooves. Jazz musician John Carol Kirby and his crew had The Met feeling like it was downtown at Time bar hearing a jam session from some amazing musicians. After getting a taste of jazz as the appetizer, it was time for the main dish, soulful alternative rock music blended with some funk brought to you by the musical chefs known as Khruangbin. The stage was dressed like an old home, similar to the A La Sala album cover.

John Carroll Kirby | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

Khruangbin | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

The first half of their set was dedicated to the trio’s new album A La Sala. The colorful, smoky surrounding matched the mood of the first songs “Fifteen Fifty-Three” and “May 9th.” While watching the performance, I started to think about a post I saw on Instagram that said  Khruangbin’s music sounds like the inside of a lava lamp, and no lie, it felt just like that watching these three play. The sounds from these three Texas-born musicians was calming, and at times gave the feeling as if the crowd could float. The way Speer moved on the stage and how Johnson and Ochoa played in the background as the lights dim and you could only see their silhouettes felt very theatrical while performing “Ada Jean” and “Farolim de Felguerias.” Then they went into “Pon Pon,” and started to get a little funky with it. The next song Khruangbin played was my favorite track from A La Sala: the hard hitting yet soothing “Todavía Viva.”
One thing I noticed about the Khruangbin queen Laura Lee is that whether dancing through chords with Speer or matching the rhythms with DJ, she loves to confidently strut through the stage while simultaneously getting down on the base guitar. Speer showed why respected local guitarists like Zavetis and Larry Monroe from the band Snacktime admire his skills on the electric guitar. Those skills are the reason why I joke to my friends that like Charizard, Speer is the final evolved level when it comes to electric guitar players. For a moment both Speer and Ochoa gracefully moved in unison while performing “A Love International,” and it was then that I noticed that ironically both their outfits looked like two rockstars who were preparing for a wedding.

Khruangbin | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

After playing tracks from A La Sala, the trio went into fan favorites from their first three albums The Universe Smiles Upon You, Con Todo El Mundo, and Mordechai. The crowd and I started to get hype hearing classic Khruangbin joints like “Maria También,” “Time (You and I),” and “August Twelve.” My favorite song that they performed was “Two Fish and an Elephant.” The three of them went off, especially Johnson the way he brought the drums in. It’s chill, but the beat is so funky it probably makes the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, smile and tap his feet in heaven. It makes me hope that one day a hip hop artist will reach out and collaborate with Khruangbin because I can definitely see a skilled MC going off on a track produced by them.

The group ended the night with an encore playing “People Everywhere (Still Alive).” My only wish is that they would have included a medley in their set like they did in 2022, playing timeless songs like “Dance,” by David Bowie, “Footsteps In The Dark” by The Isley Brothers, and “Nuthin But A G Thang” by Dr. Dre. Nonetheless, Khruangbin put on another unforgettable show and inspired me and probably others in the crowd who aren’t music musicians to pick up one and learn.

  • Fifteen Fifty-Three
  • May Ninth
  • Ada Jean
  • Farolim de Felgueiras
  • Pon Pón
  • Todavía Viva
  • Juegos y Nubes
  • Hold Me Up (Thank You)
  • Caja de la Sala
  • Three From Two
  • A Love International
  • Les Petits Gris
  • The Number 4
  • Cómo me quieres
  • Jam
  • Father Bird, Mother Bird
  • August 10
  • The Recital That Never Happened
  • So We Won't Forget
  • Evan Finds the Third Room
  • Time (You and I)
  • People Everywhere (Still Alive)
  • María También
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