King Krule | photo by Jack Madden for WXPN
The Space Cadet Lands: King Krule at The Fillmore Philadelphia
A King Krule performance is an emotional, personal experience, the listener dragged into the dark semiconscious world leader Archy Marshall creates throughout his work. When engulfed in the world of King Krule lyrically, thematically, and instrumentally, its easy to forget Marshall is just 23-years-old. Themes of isolation and loneliness, insomnia and romance all permeate through often-symbolic lyrics referencing the moon, the sea, trains and the color blue.
Songwriting for his latest album The Ooz — a follow up to his critically acclaimed debut 6 Feet Beneath the Moon — came while battling bouts of depression, where an unkempt Marshall would write and record a multitude of demos, but despise everything he made. It was during these slumps Marshall would cope in a way some of us may be able to relate to, by binging It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Yes, actually. In an interview with Spin Magazine, Marshall said,
“I’d spent maybe four months in a depression sitting in bed just watching that series over and over. … I watched like every single episode four times. It was a really warm thing for me; I’d watch an episode and I’d feel like I was part of the gang.”
It would come as no surprise, then, that Marshall would give the series’s hometown some love. The band sampled the Sunny intro during the performance of “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)” as it appears on the album, and in between songs Marshall asked the crowd, “Remember that episode where the gang oozed?” The flow of the set washed over the crowd like waves crashing on a dark shore, calm at times as the water recedes, explosive elsewhere like the breaking of a wave.
The first Ooz song to appear in the set came in the form upbeat punk rocker “Dum Surfer.” The demonic sounding track heightened the crowd’s engagement as the first mosh-inducing song of the night. The fiercely unsettling lyrics depict drunken bar encounters and fuzzy car crashes, which seem fitting when delivered by grungy vocals masked in Marshall’s unmistakably English accent. Marshall and co-vocalist/bassist James Wilson trade verses throughout the song, egging on the moshing fans in between breaths. Marshall’s gangly frame contorts, bending wildly as guitarist Jack Towell launched into a rip-roaring solo, rivaled by saxophonist Ignacio Salvadores’ wailing grooves.
What sets apart The Ooz from previous King Krule material is the deep dedication to jazz, avant garde, and punk rock roots. The live rendition of “A Slide In (New Drugs)” featured a lounge-like intro with a jazz breakdown to close, “Emergency Blimp” rocked like punk thrasher, and title track “The Ooz” could be covered by any great shoegaze band and not sound out of place.
Many tracks on The Ooz cast an atmospheric aura on the album, with vocals submersed into incomprehension and instrumentals warped and looped. To fit the live setting, Marshall and company rework many of the album’s deep cuts, but still manage to keep the album’s cloudy atmosphere in tact.
The ambient, swirling effects translate to the set on songs like “Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)” thanks to Connor Atanda’s live sampling skills. Manning the decks, Atanda samples, filters, and loops Marshall’s vocals to create dense layers of sounds, producing echoing soundscapes that fill up the grand hall at The Fillmore. For the unfamiliar, it may be easiest to see Atanda at work in the band’s recent Tiny Desk Concert.
Not to dismiss all his prior work in the shadow of The Ooz, Marshall performed a well-balanced set drawing from his back catalogue. Fan favorites “Baby Blue,” “Easy Easy,” and encore “Out Getting Ribs” rounded out the 21-song set. In the solo opening measures of the encore, saxophonist Salvadores along with drummer George Bass romped around the stage, aggressively pushing and shoving their bandmates – a playful jest only realized after hugging each other in celebration of the act’s final stretch. It was moments like this that reminded us of the band’s youth. Fans alike celebrated the closing tunes, driving fans to belt out every lyric they knew along the way.
Check out a full gallery from the night below, including shots of King Krule and opening act Standing on The Corner.
Has This Hit?
A Lizard State
The Cadet Leaps
Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)
A Slide In (New Drugs) (>)
iPhone (My) X
Half Man Half Shark
Out Getting Ribs