(Cult fave hard rock trio Kings X bring their trademark mystique to the Grail stage next Wednesday, June 10. Spokane blogger Toadman of the Synaptic Disunion blog is a longtime fan of the band so I asked him to come up with a few words and thoughts about the genre-bending progressive/metal/grunge/funk/soul/psychedelic/pop act.)
You can just go to Wikipedia if you want to see the history of Kings X. You can read how Jeff Ament (Pearl Jam Bassist) is quoted as saying “Kings X Invented Grunge” during the peak of grunge’s popularity in the early 1990s. Wikipedia is as accurate as I remember the history myself. You see, it was during the summer of 1990 when I first encountered Kings X. My parents were in Africa serving as short term missionaries, and I was living a lonesome life in a hovel of an apartment at age 20. This was the latter part of the Gretchen Goes to Nebraska album era for Kings X. It was their second album, very early in their Kings X careers, though they all three had already come a long way. They were heavy, sort of proggy, sort of bluesy, and vaguely religious. This was all appealing to me because I loved prog music, and has also lately started feeling the religion of my parents start to fade and crumble around the edges. Back then their lyrics, while mystical, were vague…like me.
My first Kings X concert was, I believe, at a club called Dallas City Limits in the fall of 1990, in Dallas, TX, of course. I went with my brother. Live, they are amazing. Doug Pinnik, bassist and lead vocalist, hammering his twelve string bass, skinny and shirtless even then, has a voice that’s both guttural, clear, soulful, and relentlessly powerful, and blends well with the Beatles-esque vocals of the other guys. I’ve seen them over fifteen times since that first experience in 1990. Each time was at least as good as the previous time, and at age 59 (this year), Doug hasn’t faded one bit.
Over the years, their lives have changed, just as mine has. I guess, for me, it’s like I’ve grown with them, through the ideological changes of the last twenty years. The vaguely mystical lyrics changed over time to more earthy, heartfelt lyrics, describing life. Happiness, sadness, melancholy and hope. Doug, now calling himself Dug, came out to his band mates and fans as gay sometime in the mid 90s. This shocked and put off many of Kings X’s religious followers, but in the end, nobody could really quit him, because he’s still the same Dug we knew in the past. Same powerful bass and voice and soul and energy. Ty Tabor’s guitar and unique solo’s along Jerry Gaskill’s steady, heavy, groovy rhythms, round out this power trio from Katy, TX. If you like good rock and roll, or are a musician of any sort, don’t miss this show. Just go.
I’ll be there, for sure. If you see me, remind me to tell you about the time I stood at a urinal next to hard core Kings X fan Dimebag Darrel (Pantera) after a Kings X show. Good times, man. GET OUT!
Here's a preview for y'all:
Kings X at Josabi's Bar, Helotes, TX, May 29th, 2009