Marcus King Band Electrifies The Varsity Friday Night


The Marcus King Band brought their unique take on rock/blues to the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown Friday night.  The South Carolina based band came and destroyed, as front man/guitarist Marcus King cemented his place in the new generation of guitar gods.

Opening for The Marcus King Band on Friday night was songwriter/guitarist Aaron Lee Tasjan. Aarons resume is more diverse than a Coexist bumper sticker. Self taught, the son of musicians, Tasjan had his own band Semi Precious Weapons before playing with both Drivin’ and Cryin’, and the New York Dolls. He describes his music as “indie folk grit”.  His performance was more straight up Southern Fried rock and roll on Friday night, kind of a White Stripes/Tom Petty with a little Joe Satriani mashup. Sporting a sparkling jacket and sunglasses, Tasjan started off the set rocking, running an acoustic guitar through a fuzz box. He switched to some sort of Firebird Telecaster guitar, and just made it smoke. At one point during an extended jam section, he used some type of effect to create a Hendrix like backward masking solo that was amazing.  The trio was tight, with bass and drums the canvas Aaron used to create.

As the lights came up, Marcus King stood center stage and began hitting the opening chords to “Swell”, causing  the packed theater to explode. Unpretentious with long hair, jeans and boots, King began singing with deep, bluesy authenticity that contradicted his youthful appearance. With pipes like Steven Tyler, King belted out soul touching lyrics, often with a huge grin on his face. The majority of tunes that the band turned out Friday night were original compositions, yet they reeked of ‘70’s  Stax era recordings. The horn section accentuated this throwback sound, and those keyboard grooves were just next level nasty sweet. (The band members  have some cool nick names too, like Dean “The Sax Machine” Mitchell and DeShawn “D-Vibes” Alexander)

But what King unleashed on the audience with his hollow body, double cutaway Gibson (maybe a 345?) was shear shock and awe. The way the man manipulated the fretboard was next level extraordinary. You could put a hockey stick in his hands and he could make it cry and sing. Tone like molten glass gushed off the stage and drenched the packed floor which  hung off of every scorching note. There is a soul to his playing that just transcends time. And Dude looks like he’s just having a blast shredding that neck.

The Marcus King Band delivered the goods Friday, blending blues, southern rock and soul with some R&B and funk thrown in for good measure.