“Hail the King”
The Constellation Room at The Observatory, Santa Ana California
Label: Sub-Pop Records
King Tuff kicked off the winter portion of the Black Moon Spell Tour at the very crowded, very sweaty Constellation Room in Santa Ana California on Thursday, January 7th. Put together by Fullerton based Burger Records, the show was a bit of a homecoming for all three headliners. Feels, who was with Burger under the guise Raw Geronimo with a slightly different lineup, kicked off their set with “Manic Cruiser.” Feels is a really good combination of melodic, repetitive vocals backed up with a heavy surf garage inspired sound. Just picture The Black Lips with girl power and more aggressive rhythm. Feels commanded the crowd from the opening note and suddenly elbows were flying at face level when the opening of “Bitched” was shredded. The Constellation Room was at capacity when Feels handed the rowdy crowd off to shirtless Rickey of band White Fang.
Currently signed with Burger, White Fang exists as one of those bands doesn’t have many memorable songs but always seems to open for pretty decent bands in Southern California; partially because they are local and would probably play for a six pack and gas money but they do have a unique ability to make a you laugh while you’re head banging. Put simply, they are fast paced sludge rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously but that doesn’t give White Fang enough credit because their energy is contagious from their kooky stage presence. The lead singer, Rickey high kicks with grace and poise as he clutches his tall boy and shouts the crowd favorite of the night, “Sleeping Bag.” “You have a place. It has a floor. I have a Sleeping bag. Let me sleep on that floor!” White Fang’s fast, metal inspired sound gave the crowd an anticipatory buzz but their sort of jokey attitude softened that to a good-natured sort of vibe. Honestly I’d love to see White Fang again but if I start to listen to them on a regular basis, I’d probably have myself committed.
Proceeding White Fang’s haphazard set came King Tuff himself (front man Kyle Thomas’s psych rock alter-ego), Magic Jake on bass and impromptu synth imitator on Eddie’s Song) and Garrett Goddard on drums. All three members were done tuning and sound checking in less than a minute, immediately bringing back the crowd’s energy with the frantic opening riff off “Madness.” It was evident from that song that King Tuff is a way better live act than can be properly captured on their last album. Kyle Thomas’s voice is a sneering, almost over-sexual coo that’s very reminiscent of 70’s glam rock and Metal (think Marc Bolan from T.Rex with Tony Iommi playing guitar). The set continued with the title track off of Black Moon Spell and then transitioned to “Magic Mirror” with “Eye of The Muse” right after. They sound great live and I urge people to see them if they can because they have a very modern pace that mirrors the late 70’s and early 80’s era of rock that channels Black Sabbath’s faster cords without the aid of a billion filters or pedals. It would really be great to throw Dave Grohl into a King Tuff set after he whimpers about the death of modern rock and song making. Thomas’s master fretwork was definitely the highlight of the night. All three guys are 30-something masters of their respective instruments and it’s just fun to see them genuinely enjoying playing together after making a good records. King Tuff will be at SXSW this March and will also be opening for Father John Misty on his latest tour.
Reviewed by Westin Boland