The Student Union Building Down Under erupted with energy last Saturday as bands and groups of all sorts came to play music and dance at Quesapalooza to celebrate Khan Queso’s “Khan You Hear Us Now?”
Their debut album was released March 23 on platforms such as Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud. The band has been working on its album starting with an instrumental of its song “Stomp” as early as October 2016. Drummer Wren Piper said the album is full of songs to get the feet moving and the group is very proud of what they have produced.
“I know there’s a lot of people who are in bands, but they’re not fans of their own music,” Piper said. “I genuinely love the music that we play. So when I wake up and see in our group that someone posted something in our Google Drive, [I] go and take a listen, and I’m like, yes please!”
Quesapalooza had music and dance groups from all across Kirksville come to join in on the fun. Groups such as True Men, Illusion Danz, The Wobbly Goats and more made appearances.
Another band, American Basswood, was a part of the lineup and once had Khan Queso open for them at a concert in the Aquadome, so it has come full circle with American Basswood playing at one of Khan Queso’s events.
“There were lots of good acts,” American Basswood member Jonathan Self said. “It’s nice to have this much music in one place. I think Khan Queso did a really good job of organizing and reaching out to a bunch of different organizations. They really made this into a diverse festival.”
Tyler Acosta, Khan Queso’s vocalist and keyboardist, said hosting the festival was a little nerve-wracking because the group had never put on such a large event. The group was able to get sponsors, food catering, decorations and, of course, queso. The concert was a success because of the help of everyone involved, including Blaine Harper, who played on the bass with the group for the event.
“My favorite part about what we do is we’re able to connect with our audience,” Acosta said. “I feel like we’ve been really lucky in that regard. We have a lot of friends who come to the shows and we do so many goofy things. Regardless of what music you listen to, you’ll find yourself moving at one of our shows.”
Acosta said he met Khan Queso’s guitarist Jeremie Amano through their computer science classes and heard he played the ukulele. Acosta then asked vocalist and keyboardist Lauren Klump from his hometown of Springfield to come and play with them. Khan Queso slowly grew from there, bringing in guitarist Kevin Melter and drummer Piper. What began as an interest became a passion for all five members of Khan Queso. The band has been together since September 2016 and has been a tight-knit family ever since.
The band of companions began with many names such as K-Vegas, The Howlies and Con Queso. The group couldn’t use Con Queso because there was already a band in California with the name, so it chose the best alternative it could think of, which involved a mixture of Genghis Khan and cheese — and there has been no shortage of Genghis Khan and queso puns.
“We take what we do seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Melter said. “We like to have fun. We’re not too worried about our public appearance. Just wanting to have fun is the main reason we chose to do this.”