Defying any expectations created by his low-key albums, King Krule unleashed a raucous, ballistic show Wednesday night in front of a sellout crowd at the Granada Theater.
In support of his latest work, 2017’s critically acclaimed album The OOZ, King Krule played 19 songs divided between tracks from the current album and those from his 2013 release, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, with a couple rarities thrown in the mix.
Wednesday’s performance marks the first time the reclusive King Krule (real name Archy Marshall) has brought his woozy blend of indie rock, punk-jazz, trip-hop and dark wave to the Dallas area.
The night began with an absolutely cosmic performance by North Carolina musician Kelsey Lu, whose music, like King Krule’s, has left critics grasping at how exactly to classify her blend of looping cello and vocals. The performance saw the ethereal R&B musician play an improvisational set before scores of people who didn’t quite know what to expect.
“I don’t really have a set list. … I just play what feels right and go with it,” Lu said.
During the set change, the crowd grew impatient — cheering at every change in music, any hint that the man they came to see would at any moment take the stage. When King Krule finally appeared, an audience that had long awaited his first appearance in Dallas greeted him with a roar of applause.
King Krule has been well known for taking a craftsman’s approach to the cultivation of his sound and appearance, patiently perfecting his songs before releasing material and picking his collaborators carefully to ensure that the music will work.
Last year, King Krule notably turned down a chance to work with Kanye West, but he chose saxophonist Ignacio Salvadores when the Spanish musician sent him an unsolicited Facebook video of himself playing under a London bridge. It was with that same care that Wednesday night’s show came together in front of the breathless audience — a crowd of no discernible fashion or scene, composed solely of music lovers, not genre loyalties.
The show began with a whimper, not a bang, with Salvadores slowly blowing through a baritone sax in preparation for the first song, “Has This Hit?” from 6 Feet Beneath the Moon.
Instead of the recorded chaos that leads flawlessly into an instrumental loop conveying the song’s lover’s lament, the crowd sang along to an intense performance marked by Marshall’s caress of the microphone and fierce approach to lyrical delivery.
After the band’s second song, “Ceiling” from the same album, Marshall complimented Dallas as a “beautiful city.”
The loudest cheers came for King Krule’s third song, “Dum Surfer,” which topped all of the critics’ best-of lists at the end of 2017. With “A Lizard State,” the breakneck lyrical delivery over a '50s R&B rhythm once again gave way to a dense and menacing attitude, taking, at times, an almost metal approach to the song.
And that is what most people in the audience would not have expected. A musician known for his blasé approach to songwriting, who makes every song sound like a bad hangover — not the worst you’ve ever had, just bad enough to know that you have one — is the artist now making every song sound like a threat, like it’s meant to make you go ballistic.
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When King Krule got to his slow self-protest song, “Logos,” he shed his guitar, with his hands in his pockets, giving a stripped-down performance jazz set, heavy on the baritone, that only picked up on the rhythm toward the end of the song. As the performance moved through songs like “Rock Bottom,” a 2012 single, and “iPhone (My) Ex,” Marshall became notably distant from the audience, no longer engaging sd he faded into the realm of the musical world of his own creation.
The show faded through the remainder of the artist’s set, but fans saw a far more raucous performance than one might expect from King Krule’s recordings.
As the show closed, there was nothing left but quiet applause and inaudible respect for what the crowd had just seen. This may have been King Krule’s first time in Dallas, but he will always be welcome.