Inhabited by a familiar cast of modish band geeks and stonewashed enthusiasts, King Tuff’s second Vancouver performance in only nine months embodied the type of carousing spirit typically depicted in the medieval courts of slovenly aristocrats. Of all those who’d journeyed to the Electric Owl that Tuesday night, it was the three leading members on stage that seemed most appreciative of their current standing. A minstrel incarnate, leading man King Tuff a.k.a. Kyle Thomas, along with Magic Jake (bass) and Garett Goddard (drums), serenaded the audience into the kind of impassioned scuffle most routinely reserved for the violently deranged.
But prior to a full blown entropic collapse, local band and opener War Baby bludgeoned the crowd with a roaring blend of grunge and metal. While they were no doubt enjoyable to listen to, the impending vigour that would later define the audience had no place in front of War Baby’s act that evening.
Loud and heavy, gruff and gloomy, the most the three-piece could muster was a couple of drunken revelers among a room of bobbing heads. Although their driving riffs and range of vocal melodies were seemingly enjoyed, it was clear that the thoughts of those present were elsewhere, invested in the impending headlining performance.
Upon taking the stage, King Tuff’s congenial presence struck a certain chord within the minds of those in attendance, and prompted a quick-stepped skirmish throughout the room. Playing songs off their most recent album, eponymously titled King Tuff, as well as a few off their initial release, Was Dead, a certain rawness, more or less vacant on studio recordings, showed through, creating a comfortable atmosphere that both the band and audience could enjoy in unanimity.
And in showcasing a new track, “She’s On Fire,” the onlookers were treated to an expansive catalogue of lo-fi ditties. Before wrapping up the evening with a fan favourite, “Bad Thing,” King Tuff taught us how to be proud Canadians the only way an American band could: by haphazardly reciting our national anthem in appreciation of our country’s stock of beautiful women. While both fun and a bit bizarre, King Tuff proved not only to be a class act, but that their line of musicality should be heralded as a leading component of garage-rock royalty.