Kingsley’s Horse: A Night with Stal Kingsley
If you were looking for a strange way to spend a Wednesday night with the smell of beer filling your nose, a badly drawn smiley face on your hand and good music coming out of terrible speakers, then Stal Kingsley had you covered. Crawling out of the depths of the darkest crevasses of London, Stal Kingsley is a musician who’s no stranger to artsy pubs with sticky floors. It should come, then, as no surprise that he would hold a night of horsing around on the bubble-gum pink and garishly adorned stage of The Fivebells in New Cross.
Kicking off the night was Bath Days, usually a duo from South London (surprise surprise) but was a solo show of dreamy bedroom pop. Using a backing track to its fullest extent, lead singer Hector Bennett held the crowd all on his ones. Playing with notions of manliness, our own strength and images of tadpoles, Bath Days reflected on the not-so-rose-tinted world through a charming lens with an electronic soundtrack. Despite the speakers not doing any of the musicians of the night any justice, Bath Days were still as fun as their newest EP ‘Action Man’, and promotional video of Hector in the bath would lead you to believe. With a stage showered in tinsel and ornate sculptures, Bath Days were the perfect opening act for the innuendo-filled evening.
Following another round of cheap drinks, the indie kids flood in from out front and take their space in front of the stage, while regulars sit on the other side of the pub watching the footy. Taking the stage was a mysterious trio, Folly Group. Made up of Louis (formerly Lou E for anyone who was following the South London circuit around 2015), Tom Doherty and Sean Harper. Despite not yet having anything under this identity available online, their performance was truly a nice bit of musical mastery. With Jangly guitars in abundance and plethora of off-beat rhythms, the tracks mess about with strict structures of songwriting and even see the drummer taking on the lead vocal role.
Effortlessly energetic, they got your ears wet with the sounds of surf pop riffs mixed with an almost 90s shoegaze aura that they made completely their own. Folly Group, despite their name, are clearly no fools when it comes to making songs; sounding both familiar yet completely uncanny is an interesting skill that these three managed to harvest in one short but sweet set. Funking around on stage, they carried coy confidence that made them even more enjoyable as they played songs that I’m sure most of the crowd had never heard before. They are ones we should all keep a beady eye on and, since they only exist in the live realm, are worth Bear Grylls-ing it down to some local drinking hole to catch them perform.
Headlining this night of wonder was the man himself: Stal Kingsley. Dressed in a garish Hawaiian shirt and joined on stage by a full band, it wasn’t long until the main act had squeezed on stage ready to begin. Known for his psychedelic meddlings in all things unorthodox to the banal, Stal translated his recorded sounds onto the stage with seamless precision. Filling up a set list of tracks from his debut album Outrun By A Plastic Bag, they performed lo-fi anthemic numbers such as ‘Look Mum I’m On TV’ and ‘Taurus’ alongside more austere looks at life in ‘Dad on the Inside’ and ‘Little Man Screaming’. Reducing humanity to its basest senses through a kaleidoscopic lens is Stal Kingsley’s best feature, and this was only but amplified by playing in a five-piece setup.
As comedic choruses of carnal desires and cuckolding company seduced the crowd into a delicious sway, Stal and his band were saddled up to indulge in taking their observers on the journey of twists, turns and downward spirals before releasing them from their spell in the wild world of New Cross. Mixed into the set was a new track, ‘Apple Song’. Heavily ladled with warped guitars and playful keys the number slipped nicely along its sister-tracks, exploring love, loss and opiate buds; life’s truest wonders. Finishing the performance before the crowd were ready to see them leave, the band were subsequently met with a choir of demands for an encore. Unable to refuse a such a demand Stal hopped back on stage for one more round of rhythmic gyration before eventually bidding the drenched stage and exigent eyed watchers a farewell.
All in all the night was a fine display of Stal Kingsley’s multi-layered skill set ranging from orchestrating a quintet band to curating a night of gallopingly good fun. Full of bands who all shared overlapping dream-pop motifs, each performance was just as delectable as the last in their own way. The only downfall of the event was the speaker issue which should probably to be on the top of The Five Bells’ agenda, considering their reputation as such a hotspot for live music. Nonetheless, the evening was deserved of a clinking of Cherry Bs to celebrate its success.
Stal Kingsley: https://www.facebook.com/STALKINGSLEY/