Jamie McCarthy, Getty Steve Earle is eating breakfast at Toronto's Drake…
- Posted on Jan 15th 2012 2:15PM by Michael Mehalick
Cory Schwartz, Getty Images
Having sold out the smaller New York venue Mercury Lounge on Wednesday, Archy Marshall, better known as King Krule, opened the show with a 30-minute set, mixing New Wave and dubstep. The 17-year-old flame-haired singer drew mostly from his eponymous EP and the earlier material he released under the name Zoo Kid. Marshall's voice makes quite an impression, suggesting Elvis Costello at his cheekiest and Tom Waits at his most sincere.
Next up were New Jersey indie torchbearers Real Estate, who played most of their breakthrough 2011 LP 'Days.' As a five-piece, the band strengthened the impact of its lush, rolling guitar sound, preparing for the bigger venues it will play on its upcoming headlining tour.
"This is our first time in this building," quipped singer and guitarist Martin Courtney, before launching into the standout track 'It's Real.' "It's nice."
Real Estate kept it short and sweet and did not delineate much from their source material, save for a set-closing extended outro jam that showed off their potential as a poppier Dinosaur Jr. heir apparent.
As the stage was being set up for headliners Girls, the crew seemingly paid as much, if not more, attention to the floral arrangements strewn meticulously about then it did to tuning instruments. When the California-bred, genre-blurring rockers took the stage, it became apparent that the ambience would play to dazzling effect. A trio of excitable female backup singers served as -- in what must be some kind of a first in indie rock -- hype women, introducing the powerful opening number, 'Alex.' The Kurt Cobain comparisons are obvious with bandleader Christopher Owens, but the Girls live show suggests what Nirvana might have sounded like had they been influenced by the Beach Boys instead of by the Pixies.
Constantly swaying and reacting, Owens sings in a sensitive croon and wears his six-string tight to his chest, like John Lennon on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' The surf-rock gospel sermon ran the gamut of transitions and influences, with a powerful live dynamic centered around basic, expandable pop sensibilities washed in inspired guitar work. Mid-set roller coaster 'Vomit' plays not unlike classic quiet-loud-quiet rock anthems, as soaring backup vocals come to the fore.
At the show's end, many among the exiting throngs echoed the same divine epiphany: "I feel like I just went to church."