King Krule at Showbox at the Market 11/03
When I first moved to Seattle in 2013 King Krule’s “6 Feet Beneath the Moon” was the soundtrack to my new life. It was gloomy, like the weather, and had this flare unlike anything else I’d ever listened to. There was something I always thought when I’d listen to him; imperfection. It plagues his music. It’s like life, there’s disorder but some sense of direction. It’s beautiful but unique and oddly the most comforting sound. His newest album, “The OOZ”, doesn’t carry the same messiness to it. But it is deep and in my opinion Archie Marshall’s most well-done work to date as King Krule.
His live show is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life. I didn’t go in with any expectations, but I left feeling like I’d discovered a new world. As he started, his energetic six-piece band flooded the stage. Suddenly, there was Archie Marshall, looking lovely and tame. He smiles humbly as everyone screams- a sold out Showbox filled wall to wall- a stark difference from his last show here at our small Barboza. Before he began singing, I couldn’t read him. He was rather expressionless, and he didn’t come out screaming “What’s up Seattle!!” like most artists would. He smoothly slid into his first track and I was flooded with surprise. Boy has got pipes!
Every word he sings feels like a punch to the gut. I felt an overwhelming sense of pain, almost like he was telling me his life story. Everything he’s been through up to this point. This doesn’t even come through to me lyrically- it’s the way he takes over the stage. It’s as though as soon as he started his first note a button got pressed and he became someone else, maybe this is why he chose the moniker King Krule. Maybe it’s true, he’s “krule”, he invites you to feel with him for his hour and a half set. I think most people would describe it as a “passionate performance” but I think it’s deeper than that.
When he performed “A Lizard State” the band sounded so full that suddenly the room felt even smaller with music filling every corner. The jazz influences were shining brighter than they had to this point of his set. It’s new-wave of jazz, a renaissance if you will. He did the song in its entirety, including a quick 15 second lapse in music that left us clapping until we realized they weren’t finished. At points during his set I felt like I was at a punk show- with the crowd moshing around. Other times though- it felt sophisticated and like I may be at a jazz gig at a cafe. Two extremes that met in an unexpected middle. Sometimes Marshall was on the floor, howling his mumbled poems at us. Other times he was at the mic, with his eyes closed, singing softer than before. It was a ping-pong effect, everything constantly going from one side to the other.
By the time he did some crowd favorites, I felt exhausted. Like I had just run a marathon or something. I heard the strum of “Easy, Easy” and my heart sank. I don’t know why that song has always touched me. There’s something nostalgic about it- maybe it’s the time period when I listened to it. Maybe it’s that both Marshall and I were 19 when he released this song, that I related to him. Or maybe it’s that he makes you feel like it’s about you. I didn’t see a single person in the venue quiet during this tune. Everyone sang along, and room of strangers didn’t really feel so strange. It was incredible to witness.
Still, “Baby Blue” blew me further out of the water than any song performed that night. I thought I was going to cry when he softly uttered “My sandpaper sigh, engraves a line, into the rust of your tongue, I could have been someone to you”. Some heartbreak I didn’t own was suddenly transferred to me and I allowed myself to feel it as swayed while he sang.
I hope he comes back again, and soon. The almost four-year drought since his last visit left me parched. I feel satisfied, for now. This doesn’t do justice to what Marshall delivered that night. It has been the biggest challenge trying to put it in words. His talent surpasses any expectations and I look forward to continuing to watch him grow as an artist- he’s only 23 after all and I can only imagine where his career will take him.