XMR Skiffle: Bands In Your House Part II —

To Kill A King's German Skiffle

(The fan review)

- 14/09/15 -

To Kill A King have had an excellent year — from releasing their critically-acclaimed self-titled second album (also on vinyl if you prefer) to headlining the Lake Stage at Latitude Festival — and continue to repay their fans' love. In August, the band went on their second Skiffle tour (read more about the very first Skiffle tour, with Oxygen Thief, and what it's about), this time to play for their devoted friends in Germany. Taking on several shows in people's houses, the band played a bunch of crowd favourites and interacted with everyone who took the time to come and see them. They also ate a lot of TKAK-emblazoned cake and treats. Yum.

Read about the host and attendee experiences below. Thank you to everyone who hosted for the hospitality, to those who came to the shows for their presence and energy, to the organisers (especially Val and Olivia) and to the band for agreeing to do this crazy idea once again. We certainly hope there will be more Skiffle shows in the near future. Only you can help us do that. Enjoy the read and keep your eyes out for more XMR Skiffle announcements...

Meanwhile, here's a video courtesy of small sessions, of a song from the Hamburg house show. Enjoy.

Juli — Bochum host

Having seen To Kill A King two times before and considering them one of my favourite bands, there was no hesitating (apart from having to ask my family) to apply when I saw a tweet from The Xtra Mile Street Team asking people to send them their information if they wanted to host a To Kill A King concert in their living room in Germany. And about one and a half months later, I got an email back telling me that the band had actually chosen to play in my living room. There was lots of excitement, obviously, but this concert needed some organising, so for the next couple of weeks Valerie (from the Street Team) and I exchanged quite a bunch of further emails. Basically, Valerie is the one who made this concert happen. She is the one that has to juggle with both the band’s and the host’s requests. Valerie thought about every detail and was always happy to answer every question I had (and there were a lot!).

And all of a sudden, the BIG DAY — August 25th — had arrived. Everything was prepared by noon. All the tables had been moved from the living room, the drinks were in the fridge and I was done preparing my cake (because making a cake is what you do when your favourite band is on their way to your home, right?!). Despite having met the band before (apart from James, who only joined a couple of months ago) and knowing that they’d be super nice, I was pretty nervous before they arrived. But when they did everything was fine. I’ve got to say, though, that there’s something slightly bizarre about the drummer and the singer of one of your favourite bands hopping up the stairs to your flat and asking for help finding a place to park their car. But To Kill A King (minus Ben L) had arrived and there was absolutely nothing to be nervous about anymore. We all introduced ourselves and I was happy to finally meet James as well (who is absolutely lovely; I’m glad he found his way to the band).

Soon, it was time to prepare the living room and get all their gear up and at about seven in the evening, the guests arrived. They were a mix of friends of mine and dedicated To Kill A King fans who’d been picked at random to attend the gig. So there was another thing to be nervous about (yay!) — people I’d never met before: would they be nice? Would we get on? Would they like the location? But again, as soon as they rang the doorbell I knew everything was fine. As someone says in a video about another TKAK Skiffle tour in the UK: ”To Kill A King fans are nice people!”. Yes, they are! Everyone got along really well (we all wore name tags to avoid the awkward “what’s your name again?” question, which was quite funny) and people were actually super grateful that my family and I had opened our flat to them and made all of this happen.

Then, after a month of organising, the moment had finally arrived: the concert began. And it was so special! Watching a band play in the living room I grew up in and played around in as a toddler is a thing I’ll never forget in my life. The boys were brilliant, as usual. But never before had I seen them play so stripped back. James actually didn’t even have a bass with him and “only” sang the harmonies (which was amazing!). It’s incredible what this bunch of talented guys can do with two guitars, a minimal drumkit and four voices.

Afterwards the band took time to take photos, chat to everyone and were happy to help tidy the whole place. We had a few beers together later and had a great chat during which the guys even taught us a few German words we’d never even heard about. They stayed at ours over night and after breakfast the next day, they were off to the next place for their next Skiffle gig.

I can say that this was actually one of the weirdest and most awesome days of my life. Everything was super exciting and very special. The To Kill A King lads are the nicest and most polite bunch of people you can imagine and were absolutely awesome guests! I can’t wait to meet them again very soon!

And to everyone who gets the chance to get involved in a Skiffle gig: DO! It’s an absolutely unique experience! It was great to meet new people who share my passion for (To Kill A King’s) music and, obviously, it was amazing to have my favourite band play in my living room. I’d happily welcome these guys again anytime!

Sophie — Bovenden host

In our basement we have a football room full of stuff from our favourite football clubs in Germany: old and new stuff, photos, football pennants etc. The guys were very interested and impressed by the room and all its stuff. They listened to Bruce Springsteen together with my dad and they also signed a part of the ceiling. They slept in the football room as well. (They must've really liked it! - XMR)

After the gig we sat together outside on our terrace and talked and drank. It was such a warm and friendly atmosphere there. We listened to a playlist from my dad with his favourite songs and then 'Thunderstruck' by ACDC came up (one of my dad's favourite bands) and my dad took off his shirt and danced the whole song while playing the air guitar. (Who doesn't do this? - XMR) Everybody was thrilled and he got a big applause after the song for that performance :).

My dad's English is not so good  so he tried to talk with hands and feet and most of the time it was successful, but sometimes the guys couldn't really understand him and then he didn't understand them but often it was such a funny situation and everybody laughed about the misunderstandings. It was a really relaxed atmosphere :).

So I just had a good experience with this living room gig and I would recommend it to everyone who loves music, is interested in meeting new people, and whose living room is big enough ;)

Emma — Obernhain host

All in all it was an absolutely amazing evening!!! It was so nice to meet fellow TKAK fans and then the band themselves. It was incredible to have them play an actual show in my living room, and I would have them again without hesitation!!! Everyone was really nice and it was such a beautiful experience.

(Emma also had her Wohnzimmerkonzert (Living room concert) written about in her local newspaper! - XMR)

Rike — Berlin attendee

Dear Xtra Mile Street Team,

First of all, I’d really like to thank you for the amazing week us Germans were able to experience. You brought To Kill A King to our country and from the gig I went to, in Berlin, I can tell that people did love it a whole lot. Just like me. Thank you for making this possible.  You asked for our stories concerning the Skiffle gigs and I'd like to share mine with you:

I decided to go to the Berlin show because, although I wasn't picked for being a host myself, I wanted to live that once-in-a-lifetime feeling. I already saw TKAK in Berlin back in March 2015 and it was a brilliant gig. I have to admit that I went a little crazy when I read the +1 option. There was a girl, Hannah, I talked to some days before and she told me how important the band and that gig is for her. Unfortunately, she wasn't picked for the gig she applied to (Bochum) so I thought about giving the guest 'seat' to her immediately. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to say yes (one day before the gig in Bochum took place, she got picked as +1). But there was my friend from Poland who I’ve known for a year. She applied to see them as well but didn't get picked either. So I asked her and she said yes! So for the first time in my life, I was not only able to experience one of my favourite bands in an intimate setting, but also got to meet a really close friend in real life for the first time. It was because of you and To Kill A King, and the love we share for the same band that made this happen and I am so thankful for that.

My friend Kasia and I  had the best time together watching To Kill A King and singing along to their songs. The guys really were able to impress us with their skills. Playing an acoustic set means you have to be very talented and TKAK are very talented! The evening became very special after the gig as well, because the guys were so humble and lovely that it was so easy for us to talk to them. Getting to know a band you love a bit more personally is a big deal for a fan. But the band didn't even make us feel like fans, I have to say. It felt like all being the same level. And being able to feel that musicians are just people - like we all are - is amazing.

Above all I was able to hand Grant and Ralph two shirts I designed. I am a designer for Bandmerch in my freetime and so that was really special for me and one of my goals. Their reaction and love towards the shirts made me massively proud and happy.

The day was perfect. I could have said these words. instead and that would have been a lot shorter than my storytelling. But I really hope I was able to express how much that day and the gig and the band means to me. And I know, I am not the only one who feels that happy afterwards. Be aware of the fact that you made dreams of some people coming true. Thank you so much.

Kasia — Berlin attendee

Being invited to attend the Berlin acoustic session made me beyond happy. Not only was I seeing To Kill A King, who I have been a supporter of for two years, but it also meant meeting a bunch of people who I talk to online for the first time.  Indeed, it was exciting.

From a fan's perspective this was an awesome experience. With the size of the room and with the Christmas / house lights on, it genuinely felt like hanging out in my 18-year-old friend's garage with our mates, singing along and clapping to songs; except no one was 18 anymore and we were out of the garage.

Many times, when attending a show, you find out the tunes just sound even better live. This one was no exception. The surprise track in my mind was 'Love is Not Control'; the song just made my mind and the room explode. Moreover, all the people gathered there were recruited to be part of the choir and, as a result, contributed to a great (and loud) ending of the song.

Personally, my favourite moment of the evening was when they played 'Choices'. There’s something magical about this track, which I can’t even describe with words. It’s probably the best smile-inducing song to sing along to and the fact it reminds me of summer approaching its end, it couldn’t have fit better to the setting we were in. I must say I couldn’t have asked for a much better encore than 'Oh My Love' either, which I expected to be the song the band would close the set with, but man, it was still killer!

This evening was like a Christmas morning for me. Music-wise, the acoustic set was more than I’d expected it to be. It was very well received by the crowd as well. After that evening I’ve come to the conclusion that the new album is even better live *cliché alert*. Secondly, the connection between the band and their fans was brilliant, I couldn’t agree more with Ralph’s words on how it was such a different way to connect with people, recalling the first time I saw TKAK nearly two years ago when they played a plugged-in show as a support band; the energy out there was distinctive (but still amazing). You really got to feel that connection with the fans and that “click”, telling you that moments like these prove why it’s important to keep doing what you dearly love. It was uplifting to hear the guys cracking jokes, igniting more cheers, as well as seeing both the shenanigans between them and their smirks to individuals in the crowd. All the details made the performance more than just a concert and resulted in my face nearly hurting from a constant smile. Social-wise, the time after the gig was spent talking to people and getting to know each other. Having spoken to two out of four members, it’s made my respect for them multiply by a huge amount. In addition to being great musicians, they are incredibly humble and kind people you want to instantly become friends with (thank you, guys!).

If you ever get a chance to see a band you love perform in such a unique way, don’t pass it up. I consider it to be a completely different experience than seeing an ordinary set and am aware of the fact that it might have even been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I will treasure as much as I can. As my bus took off, I couldn’t do anything but smile because I realised I had just experienced the best concert of my life.

Enormous thanks to the band, who had an intensive week spent on travelling for hours and hundreds of kilometers to play for their fans in Germany. Thanks to everyone involved in managing / organising the Skiffle tour. “Small sessions” may be small in size but definitely big in spirits. A big thank you to the lovely host who I had a chance to have an inspiring conversation with. And, of course, great thanks to my friend Rike who decided to take me to the gig with her – otherwise, these memories wouldn’t have been made. See you all soon.

Marie — Berlin attendee

The Berlin show was so much fun! The music was insanely good (as expected), Ralph's voice is stunning and the boys are all incredibly talented. It was so good to see James perform. I think he's an awesome addition to the band and I hope Ralph will keep him in the band ;).

Talking to the band and actually having quality conversations with them was the best part. I've met them before but the atmosphere was a lot more intimate and casual this time (obviously because living room) and we actually had time to talk. Taffel and Grant gave me awesome music-related tips about what to do next year when I live in England.

They liked the cookies I made for them and everyone else in the flat seemed to enjoy them too :). And the host's mum brought us watermelon — legend! It was soo good to meet up with my Twitter friends Anna, Kasia and Rike and I think it's amazing how music brings people together. Thank you for that!! I think that's enough. I could go on for ages because I have so many nice memories. Thank you for making this experience happen!!