Tucked just around the corner from its sister venue the 9:30 Club, the Atlantis sells itself as ‘where music begins,’ offering burgeoning artists a stage and an opportunity. This power and potential could not have been more potent than on October 19th, when a series of teens and twenty-somethings made their way through the crowd gathered for Del Water Gap to jive to the beachy indie pop//rock of the Krooked Kings. As the intimate venue filled and drinks flowed, the concert had the energy of a post-work happy hour, full of people looking for a little excitement and steadiness in the adult world they suddenly woke up in and found themselves a part of.
One thing is for certain, the Krooked Kings came to have fun. Running onto stage with carefree smiles and a happy nonchalance, the first riffs of ‘All Out Of Good Days,’ their opening track, were beachy, upbeat, and perhaps even dreamy. Lights in warm hues of orange, pink, and purple, jived in time with the punch of the drums and guitar laden with reverb. Everything about the ambience pushed the audience to groove. Krooked Kings’ performance was seemingly straight out of a coming of age film; while bouncing around stage with fellow band members who had so clearly first been friends, the band wasn’t afraid to be approachable, belting questions like “Do you want me?” without an ounce of embarrassment. It was a freeing juxtaposition. Such sentiments are often expressed to the morose tunes of twangy guitar or slow piano, but on the triangular stage stood five men who refused to lose their playfulness even in the face of disorienting nostalgia.
This was the theme of the evening. On this night at the Atlantis, the exuberance of a band of youthful abandon lent space to levity within the confusion and conundrums of adulthood they were singing about. Between songs, each member cracked jokes, sometimes just to themselves, exuding an unimposing charisma which made the audience feel like they were a part of their conversation. Performing live, Krooked Kings achieved the woozy energy at the essence of their recorded tracks not through precision, but by prioritizing vibe: playing their guitars at every angle imaginable and swirling across the stage between beams of light.
A standout moment came midway through the show. Almost as a joke, lead singer Oli Martin yelled, ‘sing if you know the words’ as the band launched into their new song ‘Headhunters,’ which had only been released the day prior. The grin beaming from his face was jubilant if not floored as one fan danced and sang every word.
The exuberant honesty in Krooked King’s lyrics was also central to their cinematic performance. In ‘Lying Through Your Teeth,’ perhaps the most popular song off the band’s recent album,” lead singer Oliver Martin had a riff off, shaking his shoulders and laughing as he sang “So, do you often still think about death And all its consequences?” Likewise, during “96 Suburu,” the audience swayed and melted into purple light, joyful and celebrating even through they were chanting what was at its root, a desperate lamentation: “21, already fucked up, hoping things will be alright.”
This might be the magic of Krooked Kings. Love and life can be tumultuous, but riding a roller coaster is supposed to be fun. In their songs, they beg you to dance, to let go, and be exactly as you are, even if it seems like you are ‘all out of good days.’