Kingsley Flood Leave Mercury Lounge Crowd Wanting More

September 13th, 2013

Kingsley Flood – Mercury Lounge – September 12, 2013

Near the beginning of last night’s late show at Mercury Lounge, Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri explained that most of their songs were about “guys who do everything right” but fail anyway. Based on the way they blazed through their fun and fiery show, Kingsley Flood are doing most things right, and judging by the audience’s reaction, failure is not in their future. Opening with “Habit,” off their stellar Battles album, they came out swinging with high-energy rock and roll. With a drop of the tambourine and the grab of a fiddle, a trade of the keyboards for a trumpet, the band easily transformed, the sound elasticized between genres, mixing folk, rock and country effortlessly.

Kinglsey Flood worked their way through the album, showing off infectious sing-along lyrics and simple, fresh guitar riffs along the way. A new song, “Set Me Off,” featured a nifty violin bridge from Jenee Morgan Force, while “Waiting for the River to Rise” switched to a more touching folk with a doleful trumpet solo and some wonderful quiet moments. Sometimes when a band asks the crowd to come closer and dance, it sounds like they’re begging. But when Khuri asked the crowd to take a step forward, it felt like permission to let loose and an invitation into the band’s embrace. Kingsley Flood play music you just want to bear hug and the audience got a tight squeeze as the set dropped into an each-song-better-than-the-previous mode.

More than once I had flashes of Wilco, both in spirit—the way they brought a big six-person band to a folk-based rock, mixing raucous and heart—and in sound, like in songs like “The Fire Inside,” a highlight with a great guitar jam from George Hall and the rest of the band clicked in. “King’s Men” was a crowd favorite, swinging on Chris Barrett’s keyboards. The last quarter of the set featured saxophone and trumpet modifiers, the requisite well-loved singing-from-the-crowd-at-the-Merc ploy and multiple new songs extending the range of Kingsley Flood’s sound in impressive fashion. They closed with a new one containing the lyric “everyone knows you’re too old for that,” which felt like a personal jab for the working stiffs out past midnight on a weeknight … until the song exploded in an unexpected and awesome make-you-feel-young-again full-band rock-out fashion. The ending left everyone cheering, clapping and smiling until the lights came on for a band that was clearly doing everything right. —A. Stein