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Emily King puts an Austin audience in their feelings at Antone's

Staff Writer
Austin 360
Emily King performs at Antone's on April 23, 2019. [Deborah Sengupta Stith/American-Statesman]

There are no casual Emily King fans. At least that’s how it seemed Tuesday at Antone’s. King’s show was well-attended and a diverse audience crowded around the stage, leaning in and singing every word of the New York-based singer-songwriter intricate R&B/pop ditties.

Her set ran a little over an hour and she front loaded it with ebullient earworms. She kicked off with “Remind Me,” the lead track from her excellent new album, “Scenery.” Then she proceeded to move through a tightly structured set that drew from both the new album and her rich back catalog.

Backed by a four-piece instrumental combo and a pair of back-up singers who occasionally joined her in choreographed dance breaks, she took us to church, with the gospel-laced “Radio,” played a simmering, slow burn rendition of “Forgiveneses” and indulged in the kind of show tune campiness Titus Burgess would approve of on “BYIMM.”

King arrived in Austin fresh off a two-week stint at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in California, and an enamored fan lady crowned her “Coachella Queen,” calling out the title at regular intervals during her set.

Her songwriting and performance style ranges broadly, from McCartney-esque witticisms to Prince-like bombast, but King is a singer’s singer. She has a knack for wrapping insightful phrases around well-crafted melodies that mirror the emotional weight of the work. It was clear that the audience members who sang along softly had spent hours contemplating how these songs resonate with their lives. She lifted spirits with an exuberant version of “2nd Guess” and a hush fell over the room, when she sang the lilting love song “Every Part,” conducting the audience in a wordless chorus of “ooo’s and ah’s” that shimmered through the room.

Halfway through the set, King explained that for most people, “the only acceptable form of complaining is singing.”

“I complain on every album,” she quipped.

Be that as it may, there were no complaints about King’s Austin show. Instead the club radiated with love.