By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: State Theater, St. Petersburg, Florida–April 16, 2016
Ever since I heard Elle King’s unique voice and double-entendre song “Ex’s and Oh’s” I was smitten. Rock At Night has been following this saucy songstress for about a year, covering her events, and spreading word—she is one talented singer, songwriter and entertainer. Elle King’s talent is not a one-hit-wonder but a burgeoning songwriter with many tricks in her hat, as Rock At Night saw last night. I would have to say she is now in my Top 5 list of women musician acts these days (and I see a lot of concerts!).
By the time I approached the State Theater, St. Petersburg, there was a line down the block of people waiting. As always, I like to listen to people’s conversations (hey, I can’t help it) while in line and near the stage where I staked my position to await the three-song shoot. I could hear a couple of 20-something guys behind me chatting, “I just looove Elle King. I mean, I would just love to….smell her!” Yes, he actually said “smell her.” The same guy was a little tipsy and was trying to finagle a spot near the stage by a middle-aged couple that was escorting a teen girl.
The audience awaiting the show was the most mixed crowd I have seen at a concert, which told me she really crosses over a lot of demographics. There were both sex and same sex couples, teens, middle-aged women, 20-something men—you name it! Out stepped the beautiful Elle King with long blond hair extensions, black jeans, and a black ruffled top. I was amazed at her flawless skin. Elle King king of resembles a cross between Drew Barrymore and Anna Nicole Smith—but in a good sexy way. She was carrying a red Solo cup and sipping, often making references to drinking during the evening and of course before singing “Under the Influence”. She was very warm, sassy, and flirty with the audience as they lapped up every bit of it. I am sure she fed off this positive energy because her live performance (and support band) were stupendous!
Elle King played a large black acoustic guitar, swinging the neck up and grooved. A rhinestone studded capo bedazzled the neck of her acoustic guitar. Her language was baudy as she told background stories between songs. For example, she said before a slow song “See You Again” that “This is the only slow song that I actually meant what I wrote it.” She talked about an old love saying, “That was time I was ever dumped—and it won’t fucking happen again!” She mentioned that she was going to sing a new song she wrote about herself and belted out “Chain Smokin’, Hard Drinkin’ Woman”.
She asked the audience for a request and if they knew songs on the album besides her hit “Ex’s and Oh’s”. People started calling out names of the songs and during the concert many sang along. These folks were not casual fans.
Elle King sang some cover songs like “Folsom Prison Blues” and I started to realize that dressed in black she was a female Johnny Cash. She sang her all time favorite song “Oh, Darling” by the Beatles and totally nailed it. I noticed her voice is really a power house (even though she confessed it may be suffering due to lack of a break). She can belt out bluesy numbers like Etta James! Her repertoire really crossed several genres as some songs had a reggae beat, others were country-ish, and a few were blues and rock.
An interesting thing about Elle King is she plays many songs on the banjo, which she taught herself. She has brought coolness to the instrument as she actually rocks it. I imagine a lot of young women may pick it up because of her.
For the encore she played “America’s Sweetheart”, and for this crowd, she surely was!
Where the Devil Don’t Go
Playing for Keeps
Can’t Be Loved
I Told You I Was Mean
Folsom Prison Blues
Good to be a Man
Good for Nothin’ Woman
See You Again
Song of Sorrow
Chain Smoking Woman
Ain’t Gonna Drown
Under the Influence
Ex’s and Oh’s
Last Damn Night
State Theater, Saint Petersburg, Florida –APril 16, 2016
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I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. I travel between the US and UK seeking my dream! My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse