How To Dress Well @ The Corner Hotel
How To Dress Well is the moniker of Brooklyn (USA – not to be confused with the industrial Melbourne suburb of the same name) born European based experimental RnB musician and producer Tom Krell. The success of his sophomore album Total Loss has launched HTDW further into the spotlight; turning even more heads in the underground music scene, and with its cleaner production, reaching an even wider fan-base than his much loved debut Love Remains. The first time Vulture witnessed this amazing artist was during his first Australian tour at his small show in the now closed Phoenix Public House, Melbourne. With the music much more lo-fi, we saw Krell taking the stage solo: armed only with his laptop, microphone, and a half empty bottle of whiskey (that seemed to have been going down a little too easy).
That night several months ago could really only be described as either amazing or tragic, tragically amazing might even be apt, depending on who you ask. The performance plagued with sound problems and quite a lot of alcohol consumption, yet Krell still managed to produce an eerie and chilling display with his impressive vocal range laid down atop of his hazy backing tracks. For his current tour, however, Krell was joined by two friends: one onstage to help with instrumentation, and the other a projectionist whose lovely visuals complimented and reinforced the aural experience. In Vulture’s recent interview with Krell, we learned of this new set up, which no doubt left us and many fans quite excited for this tour.
Vulture arrived around half nine, just in time to see what seemed like an odd yet appropriate support choice in Adelaide/Sydney Post-Internet Electronic duo, Collarbones. In Vultures recent interview with HTDW just prior to his tour, Krell explained that Collarbones hadn’t been selected for their musical fit with HTDW so to say, but more as a personal debt to CB front man Marcus Whale, “…I love his music but I more just love the guy – I think he’s such a ridiculously sweet person. I’m excited to get to know his present set a little bit more than I do right now. He played a big part of receiving me in Sydney and Melbourne, like he got all his friends out to both of those shows and made it such a warm welcome to me, and anything I can do to help him, you know I’m in his debt.”
Collarbones are one of those local bands that are always exciting to see supporting an artist; you just can’t help but have a great time during a Collarbones set. It was within just a couple of songs that the small crowd gathered at the Corner Hotel was whipped into a dancing frenzy by the duo, breaking that large and awkward gap between the crowd and the stage seen during too many support sets. Travis Cook’s beats matched with Whale’s infectious vocals and stage presence (unf, dem tasty dance moves) loosened up much of the audience in what appeared to be their first time ever dancing (ugh, dem horrible dance moves – most of which were from Vulture). Stand out tracks like ‘Missing’ and ‘Die Young’ from their 2012 album, as well as their amusing back and forth banter, proved to be the perfect warm up for the night ahead.
At the beginning of HTDW’s set the first thing Vulture noticed was the looped visuals accompanying the performance. Displayed across projectors situated to the left and right of stage, and on the curtain at the back of the stage (excluding where Krell’s dark silhouette was also gracing the curtain), these beautiful visuals complimented and intensified the ethereal vibe given off by the two musicians on stage to an impressive degree.
The second thing noted, and arguably the most important aspect of HTDW, was Krell’s vocals – From his low almost mumbling croon to his shrill sustains, Krell operated with such an impressive and impeccable vocal range. His control and perfectly positioned contrasts from soft beautiful vocals to shiver inducing squeals, is nothing short of amazing. With the band set up on the night kept minimal, only his friend accompanying with a mix of drawn out violin, soft keys, and taking charge of the pre-set beats joined Krell on stage. With all this taken care of Krell was forced to hold nothing back with his vocals, and when they’re centre stage during his live performances, its not hard to imagine how the vocal work is (unbelievably) even more impressive in a live setting than his more evenly mixed studio work. This extra help seemed to be all that was really needed to set this performance apart from his solo shows. Everything ran a lot smoother this time round, really bringing out the best in HTDW’s music and making for a performance that could be enjoyed by everyone.
The set was mostly made up of tracks from the highly acclaimed 2012 Total Loss, which made for a more upbeat and dance-filled than expected. Tracks like ‘& It Was U’ and ‘Running Back’ really got the crowd enjoying themselves and the aural experience which Krell and co. were bringing to the table. The latter of the tracks mentioned above Krell even incorporated with lyrics from RnB mega babe Ashanti’s stellar 2002 track, ‘Foolish’. (That aspect of the night was fucking amazing btw.) Krell was also in high spirits responding well to the occasionally less than desirable crowd. In response to bogan shouts deep within the crowd for him to “play for hours, motherfucker!” Krell chuckled and claimed that it was the first time he had been called a motherfucker during a performance. In addition he also stated that an obviously googed out goog-fiend letting loose in the front rows of the dance floor was amongst the most off-putting experiences he has encountered on stage.
Other stand out tracks on the night included the Love Remains chiller ‘Suicide Dream Pt. 2’, the beautiful and heart felt jam ‘Set It Right’ - where the emotion and pain that Krell has pour into the song was felt strongly that it was like a heavy blanket draped over the crowd – and of course ‘Talking To You’, a duet with both parts being performed by Krell wielding dual microphones.
Ending the night in Perfect HTDW fashion, with an a Capella rendition of a track about his brother entitled ‘Blue’ where Krell’s beautiful and emotional song writing and chilling vocal work was showcased one more time, only further fuelling the love that we have grown for How To Dress Well.
Tagged & It Was You, accapella, Adelaide, Ashanti, Blue, Collarbones, corner hotel, Die Young, electronic, Foolish, how to dress well, HTDW, Love Remains, Marcus Whale, Melbourne, Missing, PHOENIX PUBLIC HOUSE, Post Internet, RNB, Running Back, Set It Right, Suicide Dreams Pt. 2, Sydney, Talking To You, Tom Krell, Total Loss, Travis Cook