On a cold, somewhat damp night, and on the eve following a Saints NFC championship game in town, I embarked to One Eyed Jacks in the muddy French Quarter to check out King Tuff, a band that, over the last few years, has been producing lo-fi alternative rock to some growing acclaim.
Going out Downtown right after the Saints have won is always an experience, but with the victory coming during the crucial time of the playoffs, the crowds wandering through the streets were certainly excited, albeit not excited for what I was about to witness. I arrived just as the opener was wrapping up their set. Quickly enough, the three touring female members of the band were setting up their equipment. I honestly thought that they were just gear helpers, and since I’ve only listened to the band and not devoured their entire story and history, I was mistaken. Before long, the three ladies on guitar, bass, and drums ended up back on stage with King Tuff himself, aka Kyle Thomas, sauntering out onto the stage, draped in a black and gold cape with a matching hat and sunglasses. The band launched into the bass-heavy rumblings of “Black Moon Spell,” off the 2014 album of the same name. From there, they ventured to “Neverending Sunshine,” a song I consider one of the best of last year. Now, the crowd was smaller than I expected, but then, all plans quickly fall by the wayside when your team secures a clutch victory. It’s kind of just understood here in town when that glorious occasion happens.
That being said, the band didn’t seem to mind. Also, it’s not like the crowd of 75 or so cared, either. Everyone was dancing and having a good time, and the band seemed in good spirits. They play really well together, and although the crowd wasn’t huge, the band poured their brand of indie psych-rock to the best of their abilities. King Tuff has a slick yet full sound on record, but in the live setting, I found the band to be more or less playing the songs with a grittier garage-rock sound. In the end, they sounded great, and all the best parts from their studio recordings came through wonderfully when played live.
Last year’s The Other was one of the great rock albums of 2018, and many of the songs presented during the show were cut from that album. It translates well, especially in a small dark club like OEJ. All in all, it was a great first-show-of-the-year to check out. I just wish there were more people there to enjoy the array of sounds that Thomas and company were able to conjure up during their roughly hour-long set.
Photos by Steve Hatley