The Marcus King Band initially booked two nights at the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, NY, but due to a rabid demand for tickets, they were compelled to add another night creating a three-night run to end their Carolina Confessions Tour.
A diverse sound from the six-piece band out of South Carolina brought quite the crowd out to the part-bowling alley/part-music venue for three straight warm New York nights. Just about every native Carolinian living in New York must have been there, joined by hip Brooklyn-ites, tie-dyed jam seekers, and old couples wearing Allman Brothers Band and Tedeschi Trucks Band t-shirts yearning for a taste of that southern rock sound.
With the crowd anxiously waiting on night one, The Marcus King Band finally strutted out in the dark to the deep hip-hop beats of Nas’ “N.Y. State of Mind”, catching everyone off guard, yet setting the tone for a rowdy and musically-diverse set of shows. From the gangster rap, a blues concert emerged. King started with a flurry of minor notes as the band played softly behind him. After a few moments of intro jamming, they bit into “Honey” to kick off the run.
When the lights first went dark with the exception of the spotlight on King, the crowd fell silent and experienced why The Marcus King Band has become a can’t miss act. King’s solos go all over the place, but with intention. He started off with a slow jazz build focusing on tone, and then moved into heavy shredding and hanging onto familiar funk riffs. As the energy of his solo developed, the air in the venue blew his long brown hair over the back of his leather coat, so that it started to curl above the sides of his leather hat, revealing the big MLK initials on his guitar strap. He looked like an idolized image of a rock star from the seventies, only he’s just a 23-year-old kid who will be performing well into this millennium.
The shows were rounded out by an incredible horn section consisting of Dean Mitchell on saxophone and Justin Johnson alternating between trumpet and trombone. Their harmonies grounded the improvisation on some of the heavier solos and added a funky layer of depth that had the group sounding like Lettuce or Tower of Power at times. Keyboardist DeShawn “D-Vibes” Alexander, dawning green box-shaped sunglasses, layed down some of the funkiest keys solos you will ever hear. Drummer Jack Ryan and bass player Stephen Campbell led the way on rhythms that ranged from rock to funk to blues and to reggae.
Night one featured a wide variety of covers including a funky version of “Doo Wop (That Thing)” by Lauryn Hill. Most male vocalists, especially so-called southern rock singers, couldn’t hit Hill’s notes to perfection, but King is different. He sang it soulfully and Alexander added perhaps the wildest electric keyboard solo ever played to that song. They then jammed it into “Kinky Reggae” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. The night also included a hard rock version of “Dear Prudence” by The Beatles, a jam on Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va”, Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come”, and ended with the rocking southern staple “Train Train” by Blackfoot.
The Marcus King Band – Brooklyn Bowl – 6/5/2019 [Full-Show Video]
Night Two featured a similar set of varying covers and the band’s growing lists of classics. “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That” is one of the band’s smoothest songs in the studio, but has proven to get the crowd into a frenzy when played live. More crowd-pleasing covers came in the form of “Mountain Jam” by The Allman Brothers Band, Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4”, a soulful “Fire on the Mountain” by the Grateful Dead, and a jazzier version of “This Ol’ Cowboy” by fellow South Carolinians The Marshall Tucker Band. The Marcus King Band recorded their own take on the Marshall Tucker classic on their Due North EP.
The Marcus King Band – Brooklyn Bowl – 6/6/2019 [Full-Show Video]
For night three, the energy was even higher than the previous two, as the Friday evening crowd had definitely enjoyed a few drinks and the group looked to close out their extended Carolina Confessions Tour with a real party before enjoying a well-deserved break.
The beginning of the show featured a flurry of major key jams that the crowd never wanted to end. Sounds from King’s Allman Brothers influence really came to light as the band shredded through “What’s Right”, “Where I’m Headed”, and “How Long”. Mitchell then played a wild sax solo during “Love Too” while the Brooklyn Bowl’s classic disco ball reflected yellow lights and switched the vibe from the Allman Brothers to a truly raucous dance party.
After soaring through a few more originals, MKB bit into the second Marshall Tucker Band cover of the run. This time, the band offered up the much more well-known classic “Can’t You See”, featuring King playing the flute melody through his vibrant guitar tone. The whole audience sang along as drummer Jack Ryan steered the band into a jam that could have been the set closer at any other show.
They then played another original that has become a real sing-along for MKB fans in “Homesick”. The amount of 50-year-old listeners who know every word to this 23-year-old’s songs is a true testament to how talented this outfit is. King laughed and talked about how wonderful it was to be in Brooklyn for what felt like the thousandth time of the run before saying, “I’ve just been told that we have no curfew,” which was met by the gleeful shouting of the audience. He then switched to an acoustic guitar and played a solo “Remember” off their Carolina Confessions album. The band reemerged and Johnson sang beautiful lead vocals on a gospel song before the band jumped into an array of new material. The set concluded with yet another wild cover. The band started into the patient and heavy intro of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath, a perfect song for each band member to demonstrate their musical prowess once again. Johnson shined on an intricate trombone solo that elevated the heavy metal classic.
After two and a half straight hours of hard rock and roll, blues, and funk jamming, the crowd finally began to make their way to the exits as “Iko Iko” played over the speakers as a tribute to the late Dr. John. Veterans of all three nights of the run hobbled out in exhaustion, as the energy never slowed down during any of the shows.
The Marcus King Band – Brooklyn Bowl – 6/7/2019 [Full-Show Video]
Catch The Marcus King Band when they are back in action on July 4th at the High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, CA. For ticketing information and a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates, head to The Marcus King Band’s website.
Below, you can peruse a gallery of onstage and behind-the-scenes photos from throughout The Marcus King Band’s three-night Brooklyn Bowl run courtesy of photographer Robert Forte.
Setlist: The Marcus King Band | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 6/5/2019
Set: Honey, Booty Stank, You Wrote This Song, Dyin’, No Decency, He Can Only Hold Her > Doo Wop (That Thing) (Lauryn Hill cover) > Kinky Reggae (Bob Marley and the Wailers cover), Opie, Dear Prudence (Beatles Cover), Keep Moving, Oye Como Va Jam > Drums > Sprit of Thunder, A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover), Boone, Fraudulent Waffle, Everything, Always, Stratus (Billy Cobham cover)
Encore: I Won’t Be Here, Train Train (Blackfoot cover)
Setlist: The Marcus King Band | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 6/6/2019
Set: Virginia, Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That, Jealous Man, Radio Soldier, Cherie Berry > Sliced Milk > Mountain Jam (Allman Brothers Band cover) > 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago cover) > I’ll Stay > Gloomy Sunday, Morning Light, Until I’m Gone, Self-Hatred > Fire on the Mountain (Grateful Dead cover), Devil’s Land, Work to Do (Isley Brothers cover), This Ol’ Cowboy (Marshall Tucker BandcCover), Rita is Gone, Brown Sugar (D’Angelo cover), Plant Your Corn Early, Sorry ‘Bout Your Lover, Guitar in My Hands, Slip Back
Setlist: The Marcus King Band | Brooklyn Bowl | Brooklyn, NY | 6/7/2019
Set: What’s Right, Where I’m Headed, How Long, 8 AM, The Man You Didn’t Know, Love Too, Should Of A Good Man, Autumn Rains, Can’t You See (Marshall Tucker Band cover), Homesick, Woman’s Gotta Have It (Bobby Womack cover), Side Door, Unknown, Honey > I Can’t Quit Ya > Sexy Ida > Papa Was a Rolling Stone, Red Hot Mama (Funkadelic cover), Remember, Unknown, Confessions, The Well, War Pigs (Black Sabbath cover)
E: Goodbye Carolina