Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published in our end-of-year magazine, 2015: The Year In Local Music.

 

“Like to get that number out of the way.”

It was Jonah Furman’s last show in Boston as the bassist and singer of Krill, and those were the first words he uttered. The crowd chuckled knowingly. It is a little absurd after all to have to play “Theme from Krill” at a farewell show. The chorus – “Krill, Krill, Krill forever/Krill, Krill forever and ever” – was like salt in the wound, even when Furman sang “Krill, Krill, Krill ‘til Thursday” instead.

Of course, “Krill forever” was never a truth or a lie. All bands come to an end. But after this year’s relatively successful A Distant Fist Unclenching, few thought the end was so near.  

Nonetheless, on September 16th Krill made an announcement on Facebook:

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Krill & Exploding in Sound

Krill took the stage twice at the Great Scott in Allston on October 15th. For the late show, technically their last Boston appearance, they were preceded by Kal Marks. Their set, ending with “Life is Murder,” offered sludge and doom, but alas, little joy.  

Kal Marks is just one of Krill’s labelmates on Exploding in Sound Records (EiS), which has been the home of some of Massachusetts’s best bands: Speedy Ortiz, Palehound, Grass is Green, and Pile, among others.

As Dan Goldin, the co-founder of EiS said in Consequence of Sound’s phenomenal oral history of Exploding in Sound, “Honestly, the Boston bands on our label were so beloved already and engrained in the scene that I’m not sure they all realized they were on the same label once it started happening.” Goldin’s modesty may undervalue the role of EiS in the Boston scene, but there is truth to what he says.

Krill’s first album, Alam No Hris, dropped just five days after EiS’s first release – Grass is Green’s Ronson. Before Krill were three “rising rock weirdos” in Rolling Stone, they were three “rising rock weirdos” in a Somerville basement, where Alam No Hris was recorded.

Krill’s second album, Lucky Leaves, was their first EiS record, and the label’s 15th overall. Today, EIS has released over 40 records. Lucky Leaves saw Krill slither their way into Pitchfork, where “Purity of Heart” was reviewed, and Stereogum, where they were labeled a “band to watch.”

Some of these early fan favorites were heard at Great Scott. As Furman said, “We’re gonna play some old songs that we’re going to fuck up. I like it when it’s bad.” But as usual, it wasn’t bad. “Solitaire” and “Self Hate Will Be the Death of Youth Culture” closed out the set to applause and the hipster equivalent of funerary ululations.

 

Krill illustration by Louis Roe

Illustration by Louis Roe

By 2014, when Krill released the off-kilter EP Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears, they had already cemented themselves as one of EiS’s biggest and best acts. Krill will be missed by many, Dan Goldin among them. Soon after Krill posted on Facebook that they had called it quits, Goldin posted his own message from the EiS page:

I’ve known about the Krill break-up for about a week or so now and not a moment has gone by where I haven’t hoped they’d change their mind. With the announcement this morning I guess it’s all too real. Krill are one of the best band’s on the planet and they will be dearly missed. Over the years we’ve worked with them and since they’ve been a band, they’ve only gotten impossibly better with every release, and the new songs they’ve been playing live are unreal. It’s been’s (sic) an unspeakable honor and pleasure to work with them and while I suppose I “respect their decision,” I also think we’re losing one of the best bands we’ve had the pleasure of working with and I’ll eagerly await what the future holds for them.

Rise to Modest Fame

Krill will always be a cult band. The self-referential anthem, the meta concept album about a character from a Pile song, the shockingly endearing song called “Turd” – this stuff was never going to make it to “the charts.” But Krill have enjoyed a healthy, if particular, cast of fans. Krill fans are “in” on it. What “it” is, is not entirely clear. A shared worldview, an appreciation of the absurd, or a mysterious Krill essence? Again, unclear. But Krill fans just get “it,” like when Krill tweets “uh oh here come the :””o” and get seven retweets. Or when they post “……whats up” on Facebook and get 98 likes.

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The fans liking these esoteric and asinine internet murmurings are the same ones that show up for farewell shows. Great Scott was full of them, occasionally yelling their own ramblings towards the stage, often nonsensical, sometimes mildly amusing, but mostly obnoxious.

With the help of the Internet, the music blogosphere, and Krill’s two excellent releases in 2014 and 2015, these fans multiplied. When they played “Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts into Tears,” everybody nodded along to the ferocious chugging bass and drums, and when they played “Turd,” most of the crowd knew every word.

Hearing tracks from A Distant Fist Unclenching, like “Phantom,” only added to the melancholy, a reminder of how good Krill’s last record was. As an encore, Krill performed “Brain Problem,” a post-punk examination on mental illness, which implicitly or explicitly is a classic Krill theme.

On “Tiger,” Furman changed the stress and cadence of the lyrics, not unlike Stephen Malkmus. He changed the lyrics too, singing “We had a good run/But of course now we’re tired.”  

And it felt real. And it made sense. And, no it didn’t make it okay that Krill is no more, but it made it just a little bit better.

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