Written & Photographed by Danielle Boise
I remember stumbling across Elle King in 2012 with her self-titled EP and thinking to myself, wow this woman has something to say. Then she drifted into the background until last spring when I was listening to a random YouTube channel that had Ex’s & Oh’s playing on it. I instantaneously could not get enough of this song. I must have played it on loop endlessly for days on end at work; driving everyone around me insane, as I ever so “quietly” sung it out loud to myself. I found I could really sink my teeth into Ex’s & Oh’s, with its clever lyrics and catchy hook, but her voice is what drew me in. Elle’s voice is like pure magic to me. Plus the message behind the song is extremely enticing, coming from a strong willed, independent woman who is speaking her mind. In that moment, Elle became my new musical obsession.
Elle King’s sold out show at Variety Playhouse in Atlanta
When Love Stuff finally dropped in February 2015, I was beyond elated. All of the tracks are my favorites. So when she came to Atlanta last year, I was devastated that I missed her by one day, but when Music Midtown announced that she would play the festival and it seemed like karma. I had the opportunity to see her perform at the festival. A festival experience is more like an overview, where an artist’s personality doesn’t quite shine through because of their limited time on stage, but while they are on stage they have a hell of a good time.
Now fast forward to April 13th to a standing room only show at Variety Playhouse. She was glorious with a side of sass and attitude. “I can only be myself, ya’ll,” Elle declared early on as she raised her beer cup to the crowd. What made the night so special is it allowed us to really get a glimpse into who she is. Elle told us the story behind the only man to break up with her, causing her to write Good To Be A Man, which got her signed to her label. Elle continues to play that song every night and has done so all over the world.
Elle plays not only originals, like the bluegrass Where The Devil Don’t Go to the poignant Song of Sorrow, but also does a brilliant job covering Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues. The night had so many moments of true connection, yet the real treat happened when she sang two new, never before performed live songs that she and her band co-wrote. One of them, Chain Smoking, was just an absolute blast, about a rough around the edges woman who loves to chain smoke, drink and live her life by her own set of rules.
Of course no Elle King show would be complete without Ex’s & Oh’s and the crowd ate it up. The evening ended on American Sweetheart. Since hearing Love Stuff, that I thought that Elle was my spirit animal and seeing her at Variety Playhouse definitely solidified that for me.
After five years of grueling hard work, Elle King has finally landed in the spotlight. Now she is headlining and selling out each night. She is completely earnest and hilarious. At the center of it all is a an unapologetic woman who drinks, smokes, likes sex and isn’t afraid to speak her mind – a breath of fresh air. Elle has a bit of Janis Joplin running through her veins as she can ramble on, be crass, but at the end of the day she is America’s Sweetheart.
Nashville-based quartet, Clear Plastic Masks opened for Elle, with an outlaw rock’n’roll sound they were the perfect accompaniment to Elle and really got the crowd excited as they played songs off Being There.
Click here for images from Elle King’s show at Variety Playhouse on April 13th.