Photos by Asher Cohen and Ria Bose
Turning the corner on Sunset and Argyle, my eyes dart across the never ending line of eager concert goers. This sold-out show is the 21st stop of the international “Space Heavy” tour, and the excited assembly of King Krule fans shuffle their feet in anticipation. Krule, the musical alias of Brit singer-songwriter Archy Marshall, has gained extensive popularity for his unusual combinations of jazz-infused melodies and darkwave post-punk rhythms. As the crowded venue buzzes with anticipation, I’m eager to see how he will replicate his purposeful harmonic productions and blend them together with his quintessential yet raspy vocals onstage.
After a slight delay (due to the unexpected breakdown of the Space Heavy tour bus), the legendary King Krule steps onto stage and takes us back to his critically acclaimed Man Alive! album, jumpstarting the concert with an easygoing rendition of “Perfecto Miserable”. After, we hear the legendary ringtone of “Alone, Omen 3” alongside the cheers of an excited crowd. Marshall brings up the energy with this popular hit, tying together various elements of the song alongside his talented band. All the while, the red and blue flashing lights of the venue complement the band’s energy to bring a palpable electricity to the atmosphere.
“This one’s from the Oooooz!” Marshall screams as he dives into the thumping Dum Surfer. Saxophonist Ignacio Salvadores shines in this performance, providing powerful support to Marshall’s vocals and guitar rhythms with an air of both elegance and grace.
After a very high-energy performance, Marshall takes a pause to address the audience. He details his bus breaking down, describing how they almost didn’t make it to this sold out show. On behalf of the team, he asks everyone to take care of each other right before exclaiming “This next one’s about reptiles!”. The drums and saxophone pick up as we are now at “A Lizard State”. With the song’s beginning beats, the audience members dance in matching rhythmic movements to this groovy beat. The extremely well seasoned band behind King Krule works incredibly well onstage and with every song they effectively shift the tone when necessary, from peppy guitar riffs to slower, smoother jazz-infusions. Drummer George Bass, saxophonist Salvadores, bassist James Wilson, and guitarist Jack Towell all work together effortlessly to bring the persona of King Krule to life.
After an upbeat sequence of songs from his earlier albums, an energetic transition with “Pink Shell” brings us to Space Heavy, the latest album and focal point of this tour. Marshall’s vocals are gritty, yet delicate when necessary. They skillfully guide the band through the various layers of Space Heavy. The band works effectively and is able to alternate between upbeat performances heard in “Hamburgerphobia” and slower-paced lulls in songs like “Flimsier”.
“Let’s go a little more slow– more sensitive.” Marshall says with the beginning of the live performance of “Seagirl”. The exemplary vocals of Raveena ring through the concert hall. At first sound, it’s unclear whether this is prerecorded or live.
Moments later–to the audience’s surprise, albeit delight–the girl behind the delicate voice steps into view. Raveena and Marshall exchange vocals through the melodic exploration of love and vulnerability. This song has always stood out to me as a refreshing twist to Krule’s classic hits, and the live experience encapsulates this with an ethereal touch.
Throughout his performances, Marshall bellows the words into the mic in a way that doesn’t feel scratchy or forced–in classic King Krule fashion, his yells merge with the layered beats of the background instrumentals. Following Raveena’s surprise appearance, King Krule guides us through the various Space Heavy classics with a sprightly atmosphere that keeps the crowd dancing.
Then we transition back to 6 Feet Beneath the Moon and The Ooz with classics like “Easy Easy” and “Slush Puppy”, which heighten the collective energy with powerful vocal performances. Nearing the end of the concert, the Krule band lulled us towards a dream-like trance with a gentle rendition of “Baby Blue”. The live performance of this song ripples around the venue, like a sonic hug reverberating around your ears. The energy of the band and the audience wind down in conjunction with each other. Marshall and his band’s stage presence have the indescribable ability to subconsciously communicate with their audience through both songs of high and low energy. During ‘high energy’ songs such as “Emergency Blimp”, crowds flocked to form mosh pits throughout the venue, taking in the energy from the team and returning it with an air of electric gratitude.
Closing out the concert with the unreleased “It’s All Soup Now”, the audience roars for an encore. In acceptance, the band steps back on stage and gives a final performance of “Out Getting Ribs”, while the audience dances up a storm one last time. Written by Marshall at the age of 17, this song was the perfect way to round out the night. An allusion to the humble beginnings of King Krule, wrapping up the set with this song felt like the completion of a full circle for the artist. The live experience effectively portrayed the journeys of existential doubt, fatherhood and vulnerability that has ultimately shaped Marshall into the artist he is today.