If you’ve never heard King Krule’s distinct vocal style, let me attempt to describe it for you: animalistic, alien, underwater, like he swallowed a beating heart that had fallen in love once and it got permanently lodged in his throat. His spirit animal is a werewolf impersonating Elvis Presley. His genre is a hell of a lot of rhythm and a hell of a lot of blues.
The performance was explosive and raw. It appeared even more devastating in contrast to the opener, a dream-pop band from Montreal called Tops, whose sounds were quiet and tones dulcet. King Krule appeared with only guitar, bass, and drummer, which was a welcome sight, considering any problems on his debut Six Feet Beneath The Moon were caused by a maximalist lean.
It is hard to remember when he squeals out such emotional discharge, but King Krule (real name: Archy Marshall) is only 19. Despite this, or maybe because of it, his music is shockingly original. You’ve never heard anything quite like King Krule – He claims to be influenced by Chet Baker, but seems just as influenced by his countrymen The Ramones. His music is personal, yet anthemic, and even though one can’t always make out exactly what lyrics he’s spitting from behind that thick accent and thicker baritone, you always get the sense that you know exactly what he’s talking about. He’s said in interviews that he considers himself more of an MC than a singer – and his hip hop influences are subtle yet ever-present.
The crowd at Brighton Music Hall loved him. The show was sold out. My friend asked me before the show what I thought all of these King Krule fans would look like. The answer turned out to be monochrome. Black and white were the colors of the evening, which is fitting, considering his songs have a sort of old television appeal to them. Highlights from this performance included reggae-styled “Bleak Blake,” first album single “Easy Easy,” and, of course, “Out Getting Ribs.” The last of these was King Krule’s (who was then called Zoo Kid) first single, and it remains his most powerful track. If you were to ask me my five favorite songs from the last decade, “Out Getting Ribs” would be there, and hearing it live was cathartic.
The real magic of King Krule’s live show is his acting ability. That is, when he is singing, he puts himself in the mental state of song’s narrator. If the song is sad, his voice drips with tears, if it is angry, he howls at the audience. His emotional range is incredible. At the risk of sounding like my parents, I’d say the word that best describes King Krule is “Dynamo.”
It was truly an incredible show, and I couldn’t help but walk away with the sense that the musician I just saw is bound to become very, very important.