Dressed in red, white, and blue prison stripes, a cowboy hat, and cowboy boots, Larry Krone looked like circus cowboy escapee. And he sang such sweet, heartbreaking ditties, but for the laughs of his stage banter and woefully hyper-depressing lyrics. Krone is the big-eyed puppy in the window, with tattoos.
Breaking out of his prison outfit, Krone changed costume several times, singing in a hand-sewn multihued coat (for a song about a coat of many colors sewn of multiple fabrics due to poverty), a little girl’s dress with blonde wig (for a song about a little girl who just wants to dance with her absent/dead father again), his underwear (“I just feel like dying… I’m gonna have fun tonight even if it kills me”), and finally in a gold suit. Twice ably accompanied by Kenny Mellman on the organ, Krone played ukulele with tenderness and simplicity in front of glittering, colorful mylar streamers in the shape of a heart.
Krone’s folk-country music includes the saddest songs you can imagine (“Don’t stop crying, please don’t get better… Take me back, take me back”), and they are so sweetly affecting that they take you by surprise. I get the feeling that sitting around the campfire with Krone could be the gloomiest camping trip ever, but also an unforgettable one.
Holcome Waller’s “Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest” was a subtle shift from Krone’s melancholy music. Waller’s concert featured the “introspective, depressing songs I specialize in,” as he noted. He referred to his music as “kitchen songs,” due to the kitchen’s centrality for hospitality and family/housemate poignant moments (the people you live with and the people you love, he says). Indeed, the set looked like a kitchen/dining room, with Waller sitting on a kitchen table for much of the performance, and some set pieces or equipment looking like old ice chests. He sat in a white button down shirt and slacks cut off at the knees, showing his bare legs and bare feet, a modern Huck Finn with a guitar instead of a fishing pole.
Waller sings with a soulful, soft, sweet voice, his folky music a catharsis. Accompanied by four musicians playing French horn, cello, viola, keyboard, banjo, and guitar (most notable among them the talented Ben Landsverk), the compositions took on a grander life, a gorgeous, lush vivacity. At times projections displayed videos of actors or Waller himself looking like photographs, or blurred images of leaves swaying in the wind, for example. These ethereal images reflected the delicacy of the music and the performance.
One highlight, and a shift from the tone of the other songs, was a song spoken/sung in French, a little like a lecture with a drumstick as a baton or pointer. English subtitles were projected above images that sometimes coincided with the theme of the song. The energy heightened, and people laughed at the absurdist imagery of the lyrics.
Another highlight, this time softly and carefully sung, featured the last line, “One way or another, we are going to need each other”—a bittersweet refrain for a bittersweet, bravura performance.
Posted by Dusty Hoesly