I felt like a sardine, crammed up against a banister watching How to Dress Well (a.k.a., Tom Krell) croon into the microphone at Wrongbar last month. Krell donned sweats and a white t-shirt, which, according to the guy standing behind me, made him look like “he just left a second year university math class.”
That critic aside, Krell looked comfy, and I envied his cozy attire. His laidback dress added to his approachable aura, and he was very conversational with the audience, offering up stories about popping molly and eating mac and cheese with Maxwell at his studio, as well as reminiscing on his time at Wrongbar during New Years Eve a few years back.
Krell crooned out songs accompanied by a screen that displayed some intriguing and somewhat dark imagery. Throughout the performance, Krell was unhappy with the level of sound he was – or, wasn’t – hearing on and off stage, often telling the sound guy to “turn it all the way up, please” which diminished the potential for a captivating set.
Despite Krell’s impressive vocal range, the songs lose much of their (effective) sound on stage. At times, it felt like his vocals were strained, or that he was whispering to the crowd. Manning two microphones to create the effect that is heard on the albums, there still wasn’t much there.
Krell performed sans microphone for an a capella number about his brother, titled ‘Blue’, that most likely didn’t reach the back of the crowd, but was a ridiculous treat to those of us up front. Despite the unsatisfactory sound and loss of ambiance, Krell performed a set with comforting ease.