How To Dress Well at Village Underground, London

TOM Krell is an open book. His brutal honesty and willingness to pour his heart out on stage is what sets him aside from other artists. How To Dress Well’s notoriously powerful live shows are why they have managed to accumulate an army of super fans, despite never reaching commercial success. Performing a set of mainly new material from their latest album Care, the American musician Krell took the time to seduce the Village Underground audience into his exclusive Wonderland for a memorable evening.

Care, album cover

Tom Krell of How To Dress Well

 

Care is by far the poppiest record to date, and when played live it stood out as the most polished material of the set, especially when played after older songs from HTDW’s debut Love Remains – perhaps it came from the band’s excitement to play new material after a break from touring.

Despite sounding much more contemporary compared to older material, it was always Krell’s distinctive R&B falsetto that brought back familiarity to the music. The instrumentation on the other hand boasted even more adventurous new perks such as the violin and heavy synthesised riffs.  While the synth is nothing new with How To Dress Well, the overall set came out sounding much more experimental in a live setting compared to the record.

Songs like What’s Up instantly changed the mood in the room, as it’s upbeat tempo offered a surge of feelgood energy in comparison to the more melancholic parts of the set. This provoked a good response from fans who sang along word for word. Bursts of electronic synth solos caused both Krell and the audience to jump around – a real contrast to slower numbers like Suicide Dream 1.

A 5 minute hiatus between songs is not uncommon with Tom Krell, as he often went off into comfortable monologues about the origin of a song or a story he wanted to tell. It’s hard to tell whether this was staged or not, but regardless the audience patiently listened, enjoying every anecdote and joke.

“Anyway, this next song is about sexual intercourse,” Krell explains cheerily before storming into Can’t You Tell.

As the set drew close to the end, the issue of politics was addressed. Unsurprisingly, Krell is not a fan of the outcome of the American election and drew comparison to Brexit, showing his disappointment with it all. Despite being at a concert, none of his speeches felt out of place, even though it sometimes felt like he was going off on a tangent.

2 songs before the end Tom explains the process of their encore. “We’re going to lie down on stage, and you’re going to chant ’two more songs!’ and then we will reappear”. Staying true to their word, the band returned to their instruments to play a humble rendition of Ariana Grande’s One Last Time and Salt Song.

It’s this ability to switch between playful wittiness and heartfelt performance that made the show a unique experience.

by Katrina Mirpuri

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