The anticipation for this show was thick. Cut onto the Top 15 nominees of BBC’s Sound of 2013 award, this YouTube baby is taking strides and carving deep footprints in the music scene today. King Krule (formerly Zoo Kid) is Archy Marshall, a nineteen-year-old kid out of London proper. After being on Conan, and after Letterman, this after school special will have you hooked at your first listen – guaranteed. I felt privileged to be at his Vancouver show with a sold out Fortune Sound Club crowd, and expected a great many things from it – but I did not expect the fight.
Tops opened up for Krule, replacing the absent Willis Earl Beal. A beautiful, tragic barbie blonde with a full whisper whine. A lady Bahamas, garage fem-rock band, a modern Tristan Prettyman. If a young Margot Tenenbaum had a band – this would be it, in form and sound, a sort of Caribbean lounge pop. It was good, not great.
When King Krule hit the stage, darkwave immediately resonated in me. This is something new altogether. The guttural gnarl bleeding poetic rhymes demanded dropped jaws and blank stares. I could write a paragraph about the instrumental magnificence of his voice; so bassy-jazz and hip-hop steeped. A slew of adjectives could never do justice to the burden of intricacies my ears received from his haunting voice.
A talented entourage of musicians joined Krule, not adding but certainly not taking away from the performance. A surprisingly welcome mute band highlighted the heavy presence of Krule, holding all attention in his top collared, loose button-down, shocking pallor, and blazing red hair.
When people talk about this show, it will be 82% about the fight and 18% about the music, which is sad, but it made for a memorable show. This was the most aggressive horde I have ever been cornered into. Shortly after “Bleak Bake” began, a drunk, muscular bro rhinoed his way into a soldier-stacked barricade of elbows and overzealous fans. He forged through to front stage left and when he rammed into this last faction, he certainly was not pleased with the five arms that violently rejected him. Some pushing ensued and it escalated so quickly that people were getting hurt.
A well-matched dude jumped in to be the hero, and the first swing was so powerful it was terrifying. As the men locked into each other the mob kept pushing the boxers which agitated the situation significantly. People cheered, someone took a video while the employee dude in the sound booth was laughing and taking pictures instead of calling for help – brutal.
Krule sheathed his fender telecaster and in four steps was at the edge of the stage yelling for them to stop. It wasn’t enough, so King Krule leapt from the stage into the heat and physically broke into the bull pen shouting for them to stop fighting at his show. The bouncers were thirty seconds behind having to breech the crowd of elbows and remove the offending assailant.
When he got back on the stage, we stood shell-shocked and silent, until we broke into a throaty raw cheer for our adored protagonist. Krule simply said, “This next song is about reptiles,” – oh, how we love this man-child. Two thirds through “Ocean Bed”, a progressive musical interlude washed away the stain of the fight. This dancey track had the all the weirdos moving. It was genuinely nice and reminded me that I was surrounded by fans and not foes.