How To Dress Well played a show at Red Bull Sound Select’s showcase at the Sayers Club on 2/25/15 and we snapped some pics. Check them out!
INSTAGRAM VIDEOS: CLICK HERE
THOUGHTS: I’m a huge fan of Tom Krell’s (pka “How To Dress Well”) music. How big of a fan? I have all of his albums on vinyl, and his latest release, “What Is This Heart?”, currently sits comfortably as one of my albums of the year. I’ve written about him HERE and HERE so I won’t get into what I think about his music in this post. Just enjoy the pictures.
I’m a fan of Tom Krell’s music. Performing under the stage name “How To Dress Well”, his music has always has always resonated a sadness or longing in me. Whether its his airy falsetto, or the generally dark lyrical topics of his compositions, his music always makes me want to lay on a coach and contemplate life, love, at other personal topics.
When I saw him perform at The Roxy earlier this year, Tom performed “Repeat Pleasure” and noted it was a song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”. He also noted that it was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he had had ever written.
That being said, I suppose one would have expected a music video with an airier, light hearted mood, but I think if that had been done, it would have been so out of character for Tom, his fans, myself included, would have said, “Huh?”
Tom’s music video for “Repeat Pleasure”, which is apparently part 1 of the “What Is This Heart?” (the name of his forthcoming album) trilogy, will pull on your heartstrings. It seems to tell the story of a young man who’s grandfather is gravely ill, and his efforts to take him somewhere familiar before passing. The video is appropriately “How To Dress Well”, and I fully appreciate Tom’s creative vision for his music.
The first time I saw Tom Krell p/k/a “How To Dress Well” perform live, I thought to myself, “I really need to see him perform in an intimate club venue.” On March 18th, at The Roxy Theatre, I got my chance.
What intially hooked me to How To Dress Well’s music was twofold. First, the music leaned dark, simple and atmospheric; the kind of music you could press play on a rainy day, lie on a couch and let it sooth you to sleep. Second, I was very partial to Tom’s tender and vulnerable vocals stylings. A lot of male singers can use their falsetto, but not all male singers can use it the way Tom does.
Before the set started, I scanned the room to see what kind of audience was in attendance. I didn’t have to ask. By the looks of it, I may have been the oldest one in the room. I was a bit impressed insofar as the music that’s been released thus far is quite mature (both lyrically and musically). I asked the two fresh faced kids standing to the right of me (who weren’t wearing drinking bracelets) how they got into How To Dress Well’s music, and they said Spotify. I asked the young girl standing to my right the same question. She said Spotify. A quick non-sequitor … even if major recording artists are complaining about the amount they get paid from streaming services like Spotify, it would appear that Spotify led at least 3 kids to spend their extra cash to buy a ticket to see an act like How To Dress Well perform at a Hollywood club on a Tuesday night. Just saying …
The music of the evening was stellar. I knew that Tom was in the process of recording new material, but I wasn’t expecting that he’d be showcasing a lot of the new songs at the gig. It was truly a pleasant surprise for me. He had the drummer from Broken Social Scene play with him (he used a drum machine at FYF Festival) and that added a new life to the music’s live effect. I was again impressed with the way he used his two-mic set up (one mic without reverb and one mic with) to give his songs layers of depth and feeling.
And I was right about wanting to see him perform in an intimate venue. The concert-going experience was magnified 10 fold for me. For How To Dress Well’s music, you want to be captivated. You want to focus on the emotion that Tom is purging from his body and hang on very word/note. Being in an intimate venue afforded Tom the ability to interact and really connect with the audience. When introducing songs, I really got the sense that Tom wanted the audience to connect with its meaning, and it’s a lot easier to do so when the audience is captivated rather than tent-hopping at a festival. When I say intimate, I don’t necessarily mean a small club venue. In fact, if could pick another venue for Tom to perform in, I’d love to see him perform at The Orpheum.
I didn’t quite catch the names of all of the new songs (some of them were still untitled) but I did my best to list them below, together with little concert notes that I took.
- “Two Years” (?): A song about his father
- “The Power” (?)
- “What You Wanted” (?): A song about how you feel when you have a desire that you can’t control
- “Cold Nites”: After he sang this song, he told that audience that he got shivers while he was singing it stating, “That felt really good”
- “If You Were My Girl” (?): A dance song
- “No More Death” (?): He asked for the venue to turn the lights down since it was a “really dark song”
- “I Don’t Know What’s Best For Me” (?)
- “Suicide Dream 1”: A song about a friend
- “Childhood Faith in Love” (?): Inspired by “You Can Have The Best Of Me” by the Starting Line
- “Repeat Pleasure”: A song about controlling emotions even though you know that “if you do something once, you’ll probably do it again”, Tom suggested that this was perhaps the most “poppy” songs he’s written and that it was going to be a big hit
- “Words I Don’t Remember” (?)
- “Set It Right”
- “Baby” (?): Tom mentioned that in the next part of his life, he wants a baby, but that this song is his fear of the fragility of babies, derived from a fear of wondering if a baby is alive while its sleeping (A cappella)
- “Lovers Start” (A cappella)
Unfortunately, the Flickr slideshow below is not available on mobile devices. If you are on a mobile device, please click THIS LINK to get redirected to the set of photos. If the slide show below isn’t working, then Flickr has disabled their embed option for WordPress and hasn’t yet updated their HTML code, which totally BLOWS! If you can see the slide show below, hooray!
To check out pictures of other bands I was able to catch at the festival, CLICK HERE.
Though he released a highly acclaimed album back in 2010, I didn’t become familiar with Tom Krell’s (p/k/a How To Dress Well) music until earlier this year. While I was reviewing the various acts that were slated to perform at the festival this year, I clicked on the musician’s link from the FYF Festival website and thereafter spent the next hour playing his music. I was hooked, and circled his 5:20pm set time as “must attend”.
I spent the months leading up to the festival buying albums of all of the artists that I was interested in, when I purchased How To Dress Well’s 10” EP “Just Once”. It may be one of the best purchases I’ll have made this year. Limited to 1000 copies, that vinyl is described as a one time-only, orchestral release, part of proceeds from sale of which went to MindFreedom.com to benefit those with mental health issues. It was recorded in the memory of one of Tom Krell’s friends and was simply, amazingly, hauntingly beautiful.
I was able to get up front for his set. While the stage hands were setting up, a DJ was spinning some 90s era music. An Aaliyah song started to play and I noticed Tom offstage singing along. When he took to the stage, he was accompanied by a keyboardist and a violinist. Using the a two-microphone technique, he jumped into his set opening with a new song tentatively titled “For Cyril.” Amazing. And it kept on coming.
His music, with sparse drums and layered, falsetto vocals, set a mellow vibe as haunting as the recordings I had purchased. It may have been a rather dark set for the middle of the day- which Tom acknowledged half way in when he introduced an upbeat song with, “This is a dance song, because it’s too early to be this dark”- but I was loving every minute of it. He further made light of the dark set by also telling the crowd that it was his mom’s birthday. He mixed R. Kelly’s “I Wish” into one of his songs to his audience on their toes. At the end by telling the audience that if there was anything he would want to impart on the audience before he left, it was to be, “Be nice to people.” A simple message amongst complex, stunning music.
His set met my expectations, save but a few technical difficulties, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any more intimate club gigs that he may have in Los Angeles in the future.
The setlist was sourced from setlist.fm:
- For Cyril (New Song)
- Suicide Dream 1
- Cold Nites
- No More Death
- & It Was U
- Ready for the World
- Set It Right
- Repeat Pleasure (New Song)
Below are Instagram clips of some of the songs from How To Dress Well’s set at First City Festival 2014. Instagram’s embed settings are, unfortunately, too large for WordPress, but hopefully, you’ll still be able to click through to watch the video clips. Enjoy.