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Drowning in sound with Kingsley Flood

Posted by Scott McLennan  May 4, 2013 04:10 PM

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Kingsley Flood, left to right, Naseem Khuri, Chris Barrett, Travis Richter, Nick Balkin, George Hall, and Jenée Morgan

Imagine celebrating a birthday or anniversary three months after the fact. The party may not have quite the same pop.

A February snow storm forced Kingsley Fiood to move its CD-release show, which finally arrived Friday, May 3, to the Brighton Music Hall. And even absent of the hoopla and hype generated when Kingsley Flood's "Battles" first became available, the rescheduled show was sold out, and the mood inside the Brighton Music Hall was triumphant, both on the stage and in the crowd. In a way, the delay may have led to an even more honest appraisal of "Battles," since now that we've lived with it for a while, if there wasn't something magnetic to the folk-rock fusion, this bash would have been strictly fiends and family.

Kingsley Flood played almost all of the songs off of "Battles" in a show that nearly hit the two-hour mark. The band generously sampled its E.P. "Colder Still" and debut album "Dust Windows." And for good measure, Kingsley Flood tossed in covers of the Rollings Stones' "Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" and the Clash's "Career Opportunities."

The rock 'n' roll covers were not all that surprising despite Kingsley Flood's roots in country and folk and invitation to play this year's Newport Folk Festival. This is a band that plays with a manic energy and is far more apt to snarl than to coo. Singer Naseem Khuri didn't just play acoustic guitar; he beat it into submission. He rendered two acoustic guitars unusable by the time the band hit its encore run (was Khuri surprised the openers didn't want to lend him an acoustic?).

Yet even within the torrent of energy Kingsley Flood puts out live, the band distinguishes itself with richly textured songs. Jenée Morgan and Chris Barrett are multi-instrumentalists who open up all sorts of sonic pathways for Khuri's musings. Drummer Travis Richter was more prominent in the live set compared to the record, giving Khuri the mad rhythms that kept the front man dancing through the show. Guitarist George Hall and bassist Nick Balkin likewise break from convention, providing as much atmospheric shading as support in the melody and rhythm departments.

The lengthy show was well paced, starting with more introspective songs such as "Habit" and "Wonderland." Then the band moved into big, anthemic rockers such as "Pick Your Battles" and "Cul de Sac."

Kingsley Flood swerved into a scrappy punk portion of the show with "Career Opportunities" and its own "Strongman." After the garage-noir of "Down," out came the marching band...really. Five members of the Beverly High School marching band augmented "King's Men" and "I Don't Wanna Go Home."

Amid the energy and frolic, there was no losing sight of just how sturdy the songs were; whether hearing the effervescent "Sun Gonna Lemme Shine" or rustic "Waiting on the River to Rise," it was easy to understand why Kinsley Flood's profile is rising above its Boston base.

Air Traffic Controller and Velah played opening sets that nicely set up the celebratory arrival of Kingsley Flood. Velah created moody, subtly alluring songs while Air Traffic Controller hammered out chiming anthems and singalongs. The contrast in styles worked well since both bands, like Kingsley Flood, had fundamentally solid songs before busting out the particular ear-catching extras.

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About the author

Scott McLennan is a Boston Globe music correspondent and previously wrote a music and entertainment column for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for 15 years. After seeing the band Boston in the Boston Garden as a teenager he never looked back and eventually figured out how to be a professional fan. Scott is very good at writing in the dark. This blog is an ongoing discussion about music happening in and around Boston. Scott will be leading the trek across genres looking for new releases and hot shows as well as just checking in with the people who make Boston such a great place to listen. More »
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