When WSN caught up with Declan McKenna at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas over spring break, the 17-year-old was touring in the U.S. for the first time, fresh off the buzz from the four singles he has released, including the poppy single “Brazil.” He seemed in awe of the attention he was receiving, but ready and confident to embark on a nationwide tour.
At his first show in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall on March 23, McKenna was comfortable and funny. Perhaps it was because there wasn’t the pressure of SXSW, but this performance was the most solid of them all. He wasn’t the adorable 17-year-old kid, but the up-and-coming star who charmed the audience with small banter (“So how about airline food?”) and an incredible vocal range. His lyrics are mature — I mean, who writes a song about FIFA corruption? And the music video for “Paracetamol” is a commentary that not many seasoned musicians would dare make.
His set was the same in New York as it was in Austin, starting with “Brew,” playing two new songs that have yet to be released, “Paracetamol,” and ending with ” Brazil.” At every show he’s made comments on the fact that either no one has heard of him or they only know “Brazil,” but Declan, if you’re reading this, plenty of people at the show were singing along. Give yourself some credit, and prepare to play at venues bigger than Rockwood.
Email Hannah Shulman at [email protected]