King Krule: Rage, Refined

King Krule
All photos by M. Pomerleau

In a sold-out North American tour, King Krule brought his contemplative rage to the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon. For a brief and beautiful hour, Krule (Archy Ivan Marshall) delivered a fast and energetic performance to a full venue, the haze in the air quickly becoming indiscernible from the roaring tones of Krule’s debut album, 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, and recent release, The Ooz.

King Krule

Moments before the show began, the packed audience buzzed in anticipation. When Archy’s silhouette finally appeared, the room erupted. Imitations of his signature guttural howl echoed from every corner as die-hard fans paid tribute. The first song began immediately – Archy raged into the mic, the five other members of King Krule bobbed. The crowd throbbed.

King Krule

The first several songs rushed along, fast and frantic compared to their recorded versions. The heavy atmosphere of “Dum Surfer” lost its surreal hum to an abundance of tempo and distortion, but the high-energy set worked well with songs like “A Lizard State” and “Easy Easy”, both of which had the audience pulsing in-sync, heads thrown forward, eyes closed.

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Despite the pedal-down delivery, the show demonstrated a musical maturity beyond Archy’s fledgling career. The improved instrumental arrangements of older songs from his first album exhibited a healthy portion of artistic growth from this relatively young musician. More recent songs show Krule moving away from a digestible punk-rock structure toward a darker, moodier vibe. The raw hardness and resentment of earlier lyrics evolving into a more refined sort of introspection. Krule’s fellow musicians perfectly supported his animalistic vocals; drummer George Bass provided an intricately subtle yet solid background to the group’s sound; John Keek’s saxophone cutting through the grunge and elevating each arrangement to a new level of wakefulness.

King Krule

Still considered up-and-coming, Krule’s music and lyrics have clearly struck a chord with many, including Frank Ocean. Most of the audience sang along with several songs, and chants of “Archy, Archy, Archy” carried the encore. It is unclear what Krule thinks of his popularity. His music still seems more for himself than anyone else – his edge is apparent in the way he moves and talks. He kept a distance from the audience except when pausing mid-song to admonish an over-zealous mosher. Yet he is clearly loved, both for his music and for the feeling he imparts on his listeners, his powerful energy, and contemplative rage.

 

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