King Tuff Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, May 8

King Tuff Hard Luck Bar, Toronto ON, May 8
Photo: Atsuko Kobasigawa
King Tuff gets the short end of the garage rock stick. Though Kyle Thomas is one of modern garage rock's most hooky and infectious songwriters, he tends to take a back seat to Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees' prodigious output.
Seeing Thomas live, however, puts everything into focus. Far more jovial than his peers, Thomas is as likely to break into a hammy smile or well-timed scream (which he used as a definitive period to more than one song during his set) as he is a scorching guitar lick. Wearing a baseball hat with the word "Icecream" stitched across the front and his trademark denim vest with "King Tuff" written on the back in metal studs, Thomas looks and acts like more of a mesh-back skid than garage-pop savant.
It was a vibe the crowd, who were quickly whipped into a frenzy, picked up on. Beer was flying across the front half of the venue as a clutch of fans pounded tall cans to the beat of drummer Garret Goddard and bass player Magic Jake, who stuck a Canadian flag in his bass's headstock. Unsung heroes in the King Tuff legend, Goddard and Jake are key players and personalities, allowing Thomas to handle both lead and rhythm guitar on his Gibson.
As the trio ripped into set closer "Anthem," even the venue's bouncer was getting into the act, planting himself firmly in the mosh pit and even lifting one kid up for one last round of crowd surfing, proving that Thomas truly is the King.