This past June, when Mount Kimbie performed at The Independent, I’m pretty sure everyone was thinking the same thing I was: “How awesome would it be if King Krule came out to sing vocals on ‘You Took Your Time’?” Well, that didn’t happen, but the next best thing was for King Krule to come treat us with two back-to-back nights of his own material at the very same venue. Clearly I wasn’t the only soul anticipating a local appearance from the elusive UK artist, as he sold out both of this week’s shows well in advance.
It’s been almost exactly three years since the world (or at least the Internet) caught wind of Archie Marshall’s debut single “Out Getting Ribs”. Following a name change and some well deserved press, the British baritone has made his case as the voice of his nation’s generation with a unique songwriting style that’s as bleak as it is inspiring. King Krule finally released his proper full length debut this year–6 Feel Under the Moon–in which his eclectic influences come into focus through a polished, transparent lens.
King Krule didn’t stray too far from his standard setlist of recent material during Tuesday night’s show, kicking things off with back-to-back album cuts “Has This Hit?” and “Ceiling”. While he didn’t play any of his newest post-album singles, he did perform a few songs from his debut EP including “Bleak Blake”, “Noose of Jah City”, and “Portrait in Black and Blue”, which he saved for the encore.
The crowd was jittering through the jazzy LP standout “A Lizard State”, an update from his early Zoo Kid demos. He introduced the track by saying, “This song is about reptiles,” and led his three-piece backing band through a flawless false ending while he took a swig from his water bottle.
While Mr. Marshall spent most of his set showcasing his dexterous guitar skills, he occasionally opted to hold the mic in his hand and deliver his vocals in a more confrontational fashion, almost adopting the role of a young hip-hop performer.
The only thing on stage redder than Archie’s hair was a Nord Electro 3 keyboard that was prominently displayed in front. It was only utilized on one occasion, when Archie sat down to play keys on album centerpiece “Cementality”. He followed that up with an updated rendition of “Rock Bottom”, and concluded with back-to-back crowd-pleasers “Easy Easy” and “Out Getting Ribs”.
TOPS replaced Willis Earl Beal, who was originally scheduled as the Tuesday night opener. The Montreal guitar pop band played mostly unreleased songs, with a handful of offerings from their Tender Opposites debut. While the Canadian quartet did not disappoint, King Krule was most definitely the star of the evening, and quite possibly a highlight of the entire year. While you can’t always make out every word he’s saying, King Krule never sheds an ounce of intensity in his delivery. Even if you missed both of his San Francisco shows, it is impossible to turn a blind eye to this rising, albeit unlikely star.