I don’t think there will be “the next Beatles.” Or Elvis, or Michael Jackson, or Bowie, or Madonna. I’m always skeptical when a pop star bursts onto the scene like some industry-crafted tune-bot and a sea of people truly believe they will stay at the top for more than two years. The fact of the matter is, our demand for the now-new-next is so accelerated that there is little space for a lasting presence in the music scene. I’d rather not get into whether this is a good or a bad thing, but I really think the ability to build longevity in the music industry is becoming increasingly more difficult, simply due to an amped-up turnover rate.
That being said, when I first heard 19-year-old Archy Marshall, a.k.a. King Krule, I was absolutely guilty of thinking: “this kid is the next….THING.” I have no idea what thing because his sound is so unique, and that is even more rare than longevity these days.
I bought my ticket to see King Krule at Webster Hall months ago (before I was at the blog–no comp ticket for me!) and I’d been counting the days until the show. Unfortunately, it was one of those events where the behavior of the crowd pulled the tide of my experience.
I’ve heard many stories regarding the shittiness of Webster Hall, but up until last night I couldn’t empathize with them. I’d always had a fine time there. That night the issue was not the bands, nor was it the sound system; it was the seven-dollar PBR. This is the people’s beer. It is a civic injustice to demand such a high price for the nectar of the broke. But as I mentioned initially, the problem was predominantly the crowd. I suffered the short-person’s dilemma of peeking through shoulders and heads to see the band. Worse than that, a sea of smart phones obstructed the view of the stage. I literally had to watch the show through a thousand iPhones and Instagram frames.
The openers were Harlem-raised brat-pack Ratking. They’re a rap group that’s been getting quite a lot of attention lately from Tyler the Creator, etc. I’ll admit I wasn’t crazy about them that night, though it wasn’t their fault (I didn’t like how one of the kids danced. I’m an asshole.) Listening to them now I realize they’re actually a pretty talented bunch. Their musical interests reach back to punk and hardcore, and although you can’t pinpoint it in their sound, they do have a unique and energetic take on contemporary rap. Their beats and vocal style have an awkward tension to them that I find exciting.
I hoped that somehow the crowd would stop smacking their bubblegum and put down their phones when King Krule came onstage, but that would be like asking a five-year-old to surrender their iPad, so naturally it didn’t happen. The entire set girls were screaming “Arrrrrccccchhhhyyyyy!!!” like we were at a One Direction show and I felt like everyone was talking throughout. Aside from that, King Krule and his band were impeccable. Marshall was wearing the same ochre-colored suit he donned in both the “Easy, Easy” music video, and on Letterman.
Seeing King Krule live solidified my already strong admiration for him as an artist. There is nothing disingenuous about him…especially his voice. He was baritone-pitch-perfect all night and delivered ample energy with his guitar playing. He didn’t say much, though he never seemed cocky; only fully focused and absorbed in what he was doing. He opened with “The Noose of Jah City” (my personal favorite) and ended with “Easy, Easy” (my second personal favorite). I hate to sound corny, but I haven’t been moved by a new artist this much in a long time. Marshall has this innate ability to express the most universal dilemmas: heartbreak, class struggle, angst, etc. and he does it with a sincerity that is all too rare these days. Aside from that, his songs are just downright strange and good.
I’m incredibly eager to see what this kid comes up with in the coming years. Maybe he’ll be gone before we know it.
Or, maybe he’s the next…