How To Dress Well
Whether it's Bradford Cox starring in the new Jared Leto movie or Terence Malick filming at Austin City Limits, it's always a strange occurrence when Hollywood and the indie rock world cross paths. One side always seems to have an ulterior motive, and How To Dress Well's performance at the Soho House last night was no exception. The much-hyped, Colorado-born singer belted out his woozy blend of PBR&B and electronic music to a crowd of about 30 close friends and fans, but unfortunately the remaining patrons at the upscale Hollywood nightspot seemed absolutely clueless as to what was going on.
The experience was odd in many ways. When I walked into Soho House — the exclusive Sunset Blvd. dinner club that sits high above West Hollywood — Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane greeted me with a smile on his way out. It was my first time there, and as I reached entrance at the top of the stairs, I observed what looked like a typical Hollywood lounge, apart from the baby grand piano and drumset lying dormant next to the bar.
After taking a seat on the extravagant patio overlooking the city, I started to wonder if the show was even going to happen. I texted a few friends and played around on Twitter until I heard Tame Impala, followed by Flying Lotus over the speakers. “Suicide Dream Pt. 1” from How To Dress Well's last EP soon followed, and I'll be damned if there wasn't a concert going on right behind me.
I made my way over to the corner of the bar, where How To Dress Well — aka Tom Krell — was serenading a small crowd with his delicate falsetto. Accompanied by two backing musicians, one handling a violin and samplers and another on an MPC and keyboards, Krell seemed unphased by the awkwardness of the situation, singing his heart out for the few dedicated fans in the audience.
Since the release of his second album Total Loss two months ago, How To Dress Well has acquired a rabid-yet-refined fanbase, if that makes any sense, that doesn't see any signs of letting up. It was a treat to see him perform his tracks “Cold Nights” and “& It Was U” in an intimate lounge affair, the only place they really seem appropriate for, other than perhaps the bedroom. Just a few songs in, Krell asked the audience how they were feeling and when the non-response trickled back, he admitted: “Yeah, I feel weird too.”
It's a shame really. If the Soho House didn't market exclusively to an upper-crust demographic, it'd be the perfect place to go out with your friends to see an intimate performance on a Monday night. And in fact the venue seems to be making an effort to establish of cultural credibility, at least if this booking was any indication. Still, though the show was quite solid, Krell was clearly counting the minutes until it was over.
His set ended with a trio of impressive renditions, including a new song named for his older brother, followed by “Ocean Floor For Everything” and lastly, “Suicide Dream Pt. 2.” He has an innate passion for singing and, while clearly skilled, there's still something lacking with regard to rhythm and song structure. That said, the Soho House audience last night certainly didn't do him any favors.
Personal Bias: I've used How To Dress Well songs as pick-up lines.
Random Notebook Dump: “My friend used to play digeridoo in this band,” laughed the bartender. Fail.