Show Review: King Tuff at Paradise Rock Club

By Nick Stalford

On March 31st King Tuff played the Paradise Rock Club. It was my second time seeing King Tuff, although I’m not sure if the first time counts, because I accidentally broke by friend’s nose in the mosh pit as King Tuff took the stage, and just as I finished setting his swollen schnoz, King Tuff finished their set. This time I meant to hear them play.

King Tuff is the stage name of Kyle Thomas and the name of his garage-rock band hailing from Vermont. The band is a three-piece currently signed to both Burger and Sub Pop Records. After the success of his debut album Was Dead in 2008, Thomas began to take his career as a musician more seriously. He has since released a second self-titled album in 2012 and is currently touring in support of his third and most recent album, 2014’s Black Moon Spell.

With nothing to distract me this time, I set up on the right side of the stage with my camera, staying clear of the mosh pit. As I waited for his royal highness to take the stage, I found myself staring at the woman working at the merchandise table. Unlike your typical merchandise worker, she was decked out in a cheap Halloween witch costume and was playing the role very convincingly, eerily staring back at me from behind the glow of a dim light as she traded twenties for tee shirts. Losing track of time, I snapped out of her hex as I heard cheers and the sound of footsteps on the stage.

Fashionably late, Thomas and his mates walked on stage decked out in tight jeans, tee shirts, and studded jean jackets, all sporting dense patches of scruffy facial hair. Once on stage, Thomas immediately picked up his guitar, grinned devilishly at the buzzing crowd, and began to play.

With a playful party-rock sound, the band quickly had the crowd swaying and bouncing up and down to the beat. Thomas took to center stage, wildly entertaining the crowd as he switched between mellow moods and energetic head banging guitar solos, running back and forth across the stage holding up the middle finger. After a long set mixed with tracks from all three of their albums, the band played their final song and then welcomed Father John Misty to the stage, which for me was a shocking reminder that King Tuff was just the opener, not the main act.

King Tuff was back in Boston on May 5 playing a free show through Converse’s Rubber Tracks at The Sinclair in Cambridge. Currently, the band is headed to Canada and Mexico before returning to the States in the Midwest. Make sure to catch them on tour or at least check out their music at

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