King Tuff

Fortune Sound Club, Vancouver BC, October 23

King TuffFortune Sound Club, Vancouver BC, October 23
Photo: Daniel Young
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They may be called King Tuff, but the love was free-flowing at Fortune on this evening (October 23). Taking the stage to a screechy brass rendition of the sunrise movement from Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra," the Kyle Thomas project, flanked by bassist Magic Jake and drummer Old Gary Goddard, brought good vibes from the get-go. With a small Canadian flag wedged in Magic Jake's frets, they took every opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the Vancouver crowd, and the crowd responded with jovial obscenities and an increasingly turbulent mosh pit.

Things unfolded slowly at first. They kicked off their set with the title track from their recently released Black Moon Spell, but the Vermont power-trio was thanked by several waving middle fingers. Appearing unflappable, they lovingly returned the gesture, with Thomas later dedicating their sweet Bolan-esque ballad "Staircase of Diamonds" to the centrally-located digit. The mosh didn't start building momentum until "Headbanger" a quarter of the way through their hour-long set, but once it did, it kept going straight through the encore.

Seen pounding a can of PBR and chucking it over his shoulder before letting out a belch, Goddard was pounding on the skins, the tribal core to the standing pair's fretted excesses. They all seemed to feed off the crowd's energy, which Thomas ranked as one of the best they'd experienced all tour, with Magic Jake requesting a hug from every person there, his perma-grin betraying his lovable honesty.

Their positivity wasn't exclusive to this show, though. Some of their biggest moments have the nicest messages. Their song "Biggest Hearts" was all about not judging people who look fucked up before you get to know them, a similar message carried by their encore track "I Love You Ugly," which had Goddard playing a little back-up guitar. The British accent assumed by Thomas for "Eyes of the Muse" and Magic Jake's whistle solo on "Eddie's Song" had to make you smile.

Granted, they were far from the most skilled band in the world. Thomas let loose a couple of messy solos early on, and their harmonies rarely hit the mark, but they sold it with their heartfelt swagger, while the vocals and shredding of Thomas became more fluid as the set progressed. It's much more fun to see a band with decent talent put it all on the line than to see a band with amazing talent stand around unengaged. King Tuff showed up, stayed present, and rocked the fuck out. You can't ask for much more than that from a no-frills garage-rock power trio, and they played that role to perfection.
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