You get the feeling that this is what garage rock used to be, before it was Pitchforkified; a sausage party of big hair and bigger riffs;
unavoidably American; loud and rootsy rather than pretty and hip. We’re an ugly bunch tonight,
but there’s something very real and bona fide vintage about King Tuff, which is an impressive atmosphere to muster when you consider that Kyle Thomas
(for he is King Tuff) is younger than he looks and only two albums into this project. So Keith Lemon is on bass
(“Can you believe he’s only 23?” asks Thomas. No, we can’t.) and Kyle frequently sounds like the Teenage Dirtbag from Wheatus; King Tuff can, believe it or not, really play.
In that respect, and in terms of its weight, the band’s recently released eponymous album is something of a red herring;
tinny and ultimately underwhelming, doing little to separate it from the rest of the US garage rock fold.
Tonight, old and new tracks are as meaty as they are steeped in heavy bluegrass and alt. King Tuff country twiddling, most notably on
‘I’ll Still Be A Freak When I’m Dead’ and the opening, barnstorming ‘Anthem’. It’s stadium rock done the DIY way,
which is what happens when King Tuff nab the riff from ‘Born To Be Wild’, prompting a couple of goofs to continually hop on stage and air guitar like Bill and Ted.
It’s rather endearing more than it is ironically retro, while King Tuff are simply a rock band way above their humble beginnings and comparatively average recordings.
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