At the close of another 40+ stinker of a day, the huge soft slashes of Nick Allbrook’s guitar is perfect balm for the heat-weary. He once of Tame Impala and currently of Pond is no stranger to the stage, and his shy, self-deprecating mumbling between songs contrasts sharply with the lash-like howl of his singing voice. 'I want to get me the fuck off stage and see King Krule too,' he jokes to an affectionate response. Over synth textures and metronomic beats, Allbrook’s stark and observational songs feel almost improvised they're so immediate. That his impassioned lyrics are lost in clouds of effects doesn’t diminish their impact, and the crowd are boisterously on side. 'I wanna suck your dick Nick,' shouts one punter. Allbrook, seeming extra small and skinny in a baggy top and trousers, his red hair matching his guitar, muses blankly and replies 'that's a bit rich', before launching into set highlight 100ks Around Carmel. ‘Ooh I just want to take him home and nurse him back to health,’ coos one punter quietly, as one young, malnourished redhead replaces another on stage.
The crowd swells to capacity as Archy Marshall and band, aka King Krule, amble on. Opening with Has This Hit? and Ceiling the crowd respond emphatically to every shred of conversation between songs, and ape the hooks. Moving away from the slashed dry guitar of his work as Zoo Kid, to the skeletal funk and near-rap from last year’s 6 Feet Beneath the Moon album, songs remain sparse settings for his uniquely hollow and evocative voice. The skittering funk and jazz, so proficiently played by his band, is a strange evolution for an artist who styled himself as a modern-day Gavroche and accompanies the online release of his songs with CCTV footage of his East London neighbourhood and whose no-budget clips feature him mooching around train stations and climbing roofs.
With his personality his biggest asset, the songs that give the biggest insights are the boldest; Baby Blue, Easy Easy and the still-mesmerising Out Getting Ribs. When he stretches out and lets the silence creep in, as he did so arrestingly as Zoo Kid, it’s stunning. The tight, slick upmarket funk of his newer material goes down gloriously though, and the crowd, while never actually dancing (this is still Melbourne readers), clearly love the evolution and it will be fascinating to see what he brings when next he returns having left his teens behind.