In honor of the release of its debut LP, K1
, the Kingdom got all dressed up. The boys were all outfitted in respectable button-up shirts and Jenna Roadman was outfitted in a very tasteful frock with a pink scarf. It was all very respectful. The audience was too, for the most part. On a Thursday night that suffered from the gravity of the recent onset of piss-all-day fall, the crowd of 150 was mostly subdued. And it all felt so very wrong. Which was too bad considering the immense gravity of the music that was being played on stage.
Up there, the charismatic Charles Westmoreland was belting it out, singing mostly songs from K1 with great aplomb, in complete control of his manic vocals. His band was giving him a fitting platform to spit his tales about personal and metaphorical metamorphoses: between the sledgehammered drums, the bed of subtle distortion and Roadman's deliberate one-note keyboard hum, energy was crackling from the stage. As soon as it hit the crowd, though, it hit the floor and then dragged itself off. Which leads me to believe that the problem with the show wasn't the band playing short, powerful pop songs on stage, but the crowd that did its best impersonation of Emperor Qin's Terracotta Army.
Two songs into the set, right after the band finished a new song (one which had Westmoreland stretching his vocal lines, filling the room with an intense and indecipherable extended yelp), a voice from the crowd broke the between song silence and demanded "Show us your cock." Westmoreland pointed at his nethers and said "this cock?" with all the energy of someone answering "Who's there?" to a knock-knock joke. Then Westmoreland cleared the slate by saying, "We're not even half-way through the set," and tore into "Die All Over Me." Nobody should say "Show me your cock" before a song called "Die All Over Me." Nobody. It's all so childish.
But you know. It's not childish. It's just dumb and maybe ironic, the reaction of someone who doesn't know what to do with a truly transcendent performance, one that can change the way you look at the world, or at least listen to it. The Kingdom is a band struggling to find its audience that has sadly been thrust into hipsterdom, where passion goes to die. And I just hope that they don't start to think that, just because they're surrounded by lifeless bodies that they are in the graveyard, dead too.
Not that there is a great risk of that happening, but if it were to happen, this town will lose one of its truly inspiring bands. And you know who really loses out then? The kids. The kids out there who want to see a grown man flailing about the stage because he just doesn't know what else to do. Kids that want to here serious songs about motorcycles, snowmobiles and airplanes (all big parts of the band's latest album). Kids who hear a singer use a seemingly silly metaphor to express what its like to succeed and fail and grow from both and actually take it to heart, rather than deconstructing the image and rendering it completely meaningless. The kids who can't drink beer legally, but can soak in exuberance and turn it into their own. The kids at the Hawthorne Theater, the Wonder Ballroom and every other all-ages club that will be popping up in Portland in the next year. The kids that should show up at Music Millennium Saturday at 5 pm to see the Kingdom play again before it heads out on a national tour. The kids that the Kingdom should forsake their dead-on-their-feet fanbase to play to.
Read Local Cut
's review of K1 here
The Kingdom: diealloverme.com
Go see 'em kids:
09.23 - Music Millennium NW - PORTLAND, OR
09.28 - Rickshaw Stop - San Francisco, CA
09.29 - Howie and Suns - Visalia, CA
09.30 - The Echo - Los Angeles, CA
10.03 - Emo's - Austin, TX
10.04 - The Cavern - Dallas, TX
10.05 - Randy Bacon Studio - Springfield, MO
10.06 - Jackpot Saloon - Lawrence, KS
10.07 - Illini Union Courtyard - Urbana, IL
10.10 - Iota - Arlington, VA
10.11 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
10.12 - Mercury Lounge - New York, NY
10.13 - Johnny Brendas - Philadelphia, PA
10.15 - Middle East - Cambridge, MA
10.16 - The Bug Jar - Rochester, NY
10.19 - Little Brothers - Columbus, OH
10.20 - Empty Bottle - Chicago, IL
10.22 - Mojos - Columbia, MO
10.24 - Hi Dive - Denver, CO
10.26 - Neurolux - Boise, ID
10.27 - Crocodile Cafe - Seattle, WA