A few weeks ago, as his tour began, Tom Krell tweeted that he was “Seeking emotionally intelligent ppl worldwide 4 a night of spiritual generosity & reciprocal deep and positive vibes.” His message was well-received in Vancouver, as Krell, mostly known as How To Dress Well, played to a packed house at Fortune Sound Club on Tuesday night.
After my first time hearing HTDW’s single “Repeat Pleasure”, I immediately went to find his entire music catalogue, and fell in love with his new take on the indie R&B genre. The Chicago native, who is also in the process of getting his Ph.D., stopped in Vancouver (thanks to Timbre Concerts) as part of his US-UK-EU 2014 tour which ends in November.
Travelling with three other band members, his passion and bone-chilling voice was clear from the beginning of his short set in support of his latest album “What Is This Heart?”. Rocking out with two microphones in front of him, Krell was surprisingly chatty with the audience. “We had a crazy day. Our sound guy couldn’t come into the country,” he admits after the opening song, A Power. He proceeded to compliment Canada’s border agents, “Shout out to the Canadian border guys. Shout out to border guys everywhere.”
The stage was almost always dark, with hues of colour seeping through from time to time as the background images changes. Rays of light perfectly lit Krell as he displayed his energy and devotion into “Face Again”, especially while repeating the lyrics, “I don’t even know what’s best for me.” To my surprise, “Repeat Pleasure” was song number three on the set list- I admit I expected it to be his encore. Krell has magic and strength in his voice that carries his songs in a beautiful manner. His use of a violin in his set just adds to the magic of his music.
At one point, Krell told his attentive audience that he missed his mother’s birthday. He requested the crowd’s participation and filmed us saying, “Happy Birthday, Michelle.” He was very grateful throughout the evening, and thanked the crowd (and crew) several times. “Thank you for your attention, that was very sweet,” he said after he sang an emotional “Suicide Dream 1”. He finished his main set with a haunting version of “Words I Don’t Remember”, coming back for his encore alone saying that they have no other songs to play.
Although someone in the crowd yelled “& It Was You”, Krell had other plans for his Vancouver fans. He took the microphone, and on his own, he began to sing a cappella cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Look To You”. Although he admitted to forgetting a few lyrics during the performance, the power of his voice certainly won over the extremely silent crowd. And just like that, I (along with many others) felt his deep and positive vibes, and fell even more in love with How To Dress Well.