Photo by Nolis
On a blistering cold Wednesday night on the North Side of Chicago, everything I thought I knew about British indie artist King Krule was blown away. The 19-year-old artist, formerly known as Zoo Kid, took the stage in front of a sold out Lincoln Hall crowd that seemed to be almost frothing at the mouth for him to play just a note. Cat calls from women likely twice his age rained down on him as the young artist sang with his deep baritone voice, resolute and certain in a way that permeated inner confidence. It felt like a small miracle every time he opened his mouth that Krule could produce such a powerful voice from such a slight package.
King Krule has the most intense, radiating crop of red hair I have ever seen. As if showing it off, the lights continually strayed from the artist’s face, masking it in shadows as his hair became highlighted, almost illuminated by the cascading, colorful lighting. Introducing his first song, Krule simply said, “This is a song about me.” For his next song: “This is a song about living under a sea.” And another was introduced by simply saying, “This song is about reptiles,” before tearing into a library of songs that ranged from blues-y stories of loss and disappointment to uptempo surf/punk jams that seemed to leave the crowd wondering where the kid who made the self-titled, ambient electro-influenced project earlier this year went. Confused, but interested, the crowd gravitated to Krule, reacting to every pluck of the string and nasally-deep melody. From the get-go, the crowd was Krule’s.
The thing I noticed almost immediately during my first King Krule show was that he seems to cover every genre. Not musically, per se, but from the punkish-intonations in his voice, the hip-hop influenced way he grips the mic when not on guitar, to the frenetic foot and head movement that makes him look like he’s at a SBTRKT set at Bonaroo. At 19, Krule appeared more self-assured and confident than men three times his age, forgoing petty chit-chat between songs to dive headlong into each arrangement, his deliberate movements and passionate intensity keeping the crowd nearly silent, save for applause.
King Krule’s star has risen exponentially throughout 2013, and he’s poised to rise even higher in the coming year. If his set at Lincoln Hall Wednesday was any indication, though, we’ll be seeing (and hearing) a lot from King Krule for a long time to come.