What goes through your mind when you want to see a teeny, tiny Irish band just starting out? You hope they get a support slot with a hugely popular band and tour the crap out of America. Just my luck, that’s exactly what happened with Kodaline from Dublin. Not only did they get to play to a sold out 9:30 Club, recently named “Best Big Room in America” by Rolling Stone), but they got to do it two nights in a row! So indeed I was there for the first night right down the front. [Apparently they are quite fond of the 9:30 cupcakes…as you will hear soon from my interview with Steve Garrigan on TGTF very soon – Ed.]
These Irish lads did an excellent job of grabbing the audience by starting off with ‘Pray’, a pulsing, building song that swept the masses away. But if you have read my reviews before, you know that I am particularly enamoured with the lone uber-enthusiastic fan that is always there *for* the support act. Uhmmm, this time that singular fan was me. Even still, the response mid-set from my companion gig-goer to the belter ‘High Hopes’, was “wow, I had no idea these guys were so good”. Then, taking full advantage of this country’s love affair of anything Irish, Stephen Garrigan chatted a bit to the assembled crowd in his clear lilting Irish voice and pulled out the mandolin for ‘Love Like This’. I could hear girls’ hearts melting all over the room. They closed out the set with ‘All I Want’, a song Garrigan said was about an ex and he hopes she never hears it. I don’t think that’s likely because Kodaline’s star is on the rise, she’s going to hear it and curse her misfortune at having lost him.
The Airborne Toxic Event was exactly that – an EVENT. I have never seen them play before and now feel quite privileged to have been there. An LA band with over a half a dozen years under their belt, they are clearly a polished, professional performing unit. But not over produced, not in the least. With Mikel Jollett all over the place, everything from climbing the balcony, crowd surfing and walking the barrier, they worked the room like no other band I have ever seen. With more than a passing similarity to another of my faves, The Gaslight Anthem, TATE seemed like the big brother who was married now but still rocking.
Maybe it’s the viola? Special shout out to Anna Bulbrook, too. Delicate thing that she is, she trusted those crazy punters enough to drop down into the crowd on her back and they delivered her safely back to the stage after a few minutes. How many times do you get a bass solo? Not often (and would you really want it?) Not only did I want it, I wanted more. Noah Harmon was thrilling to watch both in his performance and mastery of his instrument. Anytime a band bothers to lug a double bass along with them for the bassist to play on a couple of tunes, I am impressed. So Harmon gets kudos from me all around. Steven Chen and Daren Taylor rounded out the band with licks and beats that drove it all home. The encore had Jollett sitting on the barrier (hands reaching out from all directions!) for their cover of the Magnetic Fields’ ‘Book of Love’ and then wrapped up the show by weaving wove ‘Ring of Fire’, Petty’s ‘American Girl’ and ‘Born in the USA’ into ‘Missy’. Great night, masterful band, if I could have, I would have done the second night as well.
After the cut: the set lists.
Kodaline Set List:
Love Like This
All Comes Down
All I Want
The Airborne Toxic Event Set List:
Happiness is Overrated
Does This Means You’re Moving On
Half of Something Else
Sometime Around Midnight
All I Ever Wanted
All At Once
Book of Love (Magnetic Fields cover)
The Graveyard Near the House