When We Are Young: King Krule @ A38

It is exceptionally rare by Budapest standards that a concert sells out on the first day when the tickets are available- I for one can’t remember any, though of course some popular dinosaurs might have done that, since there seems to be unrelenting interest in them, but I try to refrain from any such endeavours until that time in the (very distant) future when I’ll buy tickets to the 50th anniversary of Interpol’s debut album. Thus, the morning when the tickets to King Krule’s A38 gig became available it felt mostly like signing up for new classes in college at the beginning of each semester, the hope, the tension and the horror when some abstract Irish studies class was filled almost automatically just because the teacher was cool. Since I never got in to all the classes I dreamt of (perhaps the whole point was that no one ever did), I missed out on the earliest early bird tickets this time around as well, since as a Millennial (or, according to more recent science on the matter, Xennial) I am anyways bound to be some seconds slower than today’s babies born with a smartphone in their right hand and a tablet in the left.

For the crowd turning up to check out Archy Marshall, better known as King Krule, born in the year of our Lord 1994, was mainly made up, quite understandably, of the same age group, with a rather excited and excitable majority of males, who brought along a giddy sense of happiness that you only get at gigs that MATTER. A38 does sell out often these days, but the first rows usually stay pretty breezy until about ten minutes before the actual start. Not so yesterday, when the die-hard fans were already in position with a good half hour to go, and they did not budge, less awed friends being dispatched for drinks and merch so that the best spot be kept.

These are the people who mouth all the lyrics, who dance themselves into oblivion with eyes closed, focused on the core of the song and the feeling which is only available to them, these are the people who launch themselves full-heartedly into the mosh pit unworried of what might be bruised or broken, from limbs to phones and dignity. Judging by their age, for some it might even have been a first mosh pit, and I still remember the enlightened faces we had when that happened. Well, (logical) confession time: I’ve always avoided them on account of the DSLR I generally happen to carry, but I think I grasp the sensation of loving music so much that you feel an absolute impulse to let go of everything.

If one feels that I’ve perhaps talked too much about the crowd, and very little about King Krule himself, I’d daresay they are mistaken. All the above is very much about Archy Marshall, about the way he makes music that is slightly odd and unconventional, strangely infused with jazz for someone so young (will spare you a diatribe about old souls here), and especially about the way he makes music which resonates with people. And it evidently does so across boundaries. You’d think that a guy from Southwark, steeped in British genres and sporting a quirky accent, would not fill a boat with ecstatic people in the centre of Europe, but as we’ve seen above, that’s actually Easy Easy.

His track record of only two albums as King Krule (the A38 gig is part of a tour promoting the second, 2017’s The Ooz) might at first look a tad flimsy for a full concert, even if a club one, but the above-mentioned jazz comes in handy, as the live tracks become both fleshier and flashier, with the backing band being fiendishly good at their instruments. For someone who comes to the concert as a moderate connoisseur but not necessarily a member of the Church of Krule, it’s a confirmation that beyond the hype there’s substance, which bodes well for the future. At times, some of the tracks hark back to the slight sonic disorder of early Arctic Monkeys- this does make my heart beat a little faster, and I can only hope King Krule’s career takes the same splendid ark, though Archy should perhaps learn from the mistakes of his forerunners and stay away from any form of beard.

The encore felt a bit subdued compared to the raucous, mosh pitting, crowd surfing ending to the show proper, which catalyzed the evening’s trepidation and electricity into the best kind of gig buzz. A career goal perhaps: write a song that goes one better in the encore. Until then, there’s still plenty to enjoy in being young, a bit nervy, a bit angry but also a bit hopeful and every now and then, ridiculously happy for simple reasons such as gig on a rainy Monday evening.

PS, because there must be one: Top marks to Archy for drinking locally available beer (unnamed here lest it be considered advertising, but guessable from the boat’s general offer) instead of having some exotic personal favourite onboard.

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