King Krule: From the bedroom to the big rooms

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Photos by James Nagel (from 12/16/13 show) // Written by Kevin Quandt

King Krule with TOPS
The Independent – San Francisco
December 17, 2013

As the state of the music industry continues to shift to places unknown, it begins to usher in a new era of talent and artist viability where artists are able to promote themselves to the world without help from big labels and agencies. Young Archy Marshall was not unlike other suburban London youths as he wrote of his teenage troubles and strummed his guitar in his bedroom till the wee hours. He eventually started to track these songs in the same space, which led to self-released EPs that began to garner attention on the internet outlets so many frequent. From there, a star was born. In the short few years since King Krule, aka Zoo Kid, has been on the musical radar, he has grown from bedroom crooner to sell-out inducing star.

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The second of two capacity nights at the Independent captivated many, while the other handful lost themselves to the soulful music pumping from the stage in an effortless manner. At five till ten, the eclectic-looking band of players casually strolled out and launched into the set with little recognition of the crowd, which would eventually become a theme. Opening with “Has This Hit?” it was evident that the young leader had gained much stage experience in the past year-plus. Once removing his guitar, Archy was free to grab the mic and explore the stage while loosening up to “Bleak Bake”, a favorite off of his EP that features a beat comparable to Toro Y Moi on a desert island. Obviously, the star of the song, and show overall, is Archy’s sublimely dynamic vocals.

In a year of music where talented singers came crushing from the British Isles in the form of Jessie Ware, James Blake and London Grammar, it was no surprise that King Krule received equal accolades for his characteristic pitch, and growl, that all comes together so pleasingly. “The Krockadile” was especially strong on stage as rhythmic guitar flourishes punctuated a jazzy beat, this was all topped off with the unique vocal phrasing and pitch shifts. At times i couldn’t ignore an odd comparison that kept on creeping into my psyche, and that was of similarities to the late Amy Winehouse. The effortlessness of their talent is hard to ignore while combining elements of the past with a fully contemporary perspective.

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In the middle of the set the band featured “Noose of Jah City”, the spotlight track off his previous EP that received accolades and repeat listening, alike. “Baby Blue” led into “Cementality” which featured Archy sitting at the keys. “Easy Easy” proved to be a crowd favorite as he seemed to leave the majority of the fireworks till the second half of a near-hour long set as the band added slight interludes and solos that allowed the gifted players to stretch their legs and show off their respective chops. Banter was sparse, as the 19 year old seemed so ingrained in the task at hand. The encore would feature the ballad-leaning “Portrait in Black and Blue”, before the quartet ended a massively successful multi-day run at one of San Francisco’s heralded rooms.

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