Two years ago, Kodaline was the supporting act at a 9:30 Club show. Last week, the Irish rock band returned to the D.C. venue, this time as the headliner. It was an evening of music that was both achingly beautiful and irrepressibly joyful. Check out the photos below and enter for a chance to win tickets to Kodaline’s Los Angeles show on May 5, 2015.
Nine o’clock, Thursday night. Gavin James had finished his soulful opening set, and Kodaline was up next. On the club floor, the crowd was jammed up against the barricade. From the balconies, eager faces looked down.
When Kodaline was first entering our music consciousness, their Facebook bio identified them simply as “four lads in a band.” Now with a chart-topping debut album under their belts, the Dublin-based band has been performing to capacity crowds from Milan to Montreal, London to LA. I first wrote about their music last year after hearing them at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., supporting Airborne Toxic Event. When Kodaline returned in early 2014 — this time in a headlining tour — I was thrilled for the opportunity to chat with Jay Boland (bass guitar) and Steve Garrigan (vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica, keyboard). Here’s the interview, along with some photos from the show.
I heard you guys finishing up sound check just now. Jay: Yes, so we’re getting ready for our third gig in Washington! It’s awesome. [U Street Music Hall] is a really cool venue as well. Next time the 9:30 Club. That’s the plan.
That would be exciting. I love that venue. Jay: [W]e started this tour in Toronto in the Danforth, and that was the last gig we did with everyone on our first tour in the U.S. So we’re starting our big headlining tour in the U.S. in the place where we finished last time. It’s a good cycle. And it was all within about a year.
You guys have been busy. Jay: [laughs] It’s been non-stop.
Apart from sound check, do you have other pre-show routines, rituals? Jay: No, nothing, really. We’re very lackadaisical before the show. Warm up a little. We love playing gigs so the energy comes up the second you go up there [on stage].
Vinny [drummer Vinny May] has a Playstation case that he built for his new PS4. He got it for Christmas and he couldn’t bear to leave it at home. So he built a case with a screen in it and that’s his touring game system. And so we end up playing these really stressful computer games.
Because touring isn’t stressful enough.
Jay: [Laughs] Exactly. We were stuck on the freeway for about 12 hours the other night. Broke down on the way from Philly to Boston. But we got there in the end.
After equivocating between summer and fall for the past few weeks, autumn weather has finally descended on D.C. As Colin Nissan puts it, “there’s a nip in the air and my house is full of mutant f*ing squash.” Decorative gourds and plaid shirts aside, I love this season because I get to listen to new releases. October got off to a good start with Kodaline’s debut album.
Since the release of “In A Perfect World” (June in Europe, October in North America), Kodaline has been dazzling crowds on both sides of the pond. I first encountered their music last spring when they opened for The Airborne Toxic Event at the 9:30 Club. At the end of the set, frontman Steve Garrigan humbly thanked the audience for listening “even though you’ve never heard of us.” Well lads, for those of us who didn’t know you then, we certainly know you and love your music now.
While the critics have not been as enthusiastic as the fans, my philosophy on album reviews goes something like this: “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. . . . [But] in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.” (Yes, I’m quoting from “Ratatouille” — because it’s brilliant.)
The Dublin-based quartet displays a versatility in their first album and an ability to craft hook after hook that the critics ought to pay closer attention to before dismissing the band’s music as mundane, post-Bono/Chris Martin alt-rock.
For example, the folk-tinged “Love Like This” opens with harmonica and mandolin and includes lovely “ooh-ooh-ooh” harmonies, broken by a spoken aside that Steve tosses off in a rakish manner, the ghost of a smile lifting the corners of his lips: “I know that love like this won’t last forever / But I, I don’t really mind, I don’t really mind at all.” I love the hush at 3:03 when the instruments drop out and Steve’s a capella delivery captures the loneliness described in the preceding verse: “It grows dark but you don’t mind / Hiding in the back streets, yeah, you’ll never notice me.” Then the full acoustic accompaniment rejoins to propel us onward to the end of the song.
“Love Like This” is perfect for fall, when my relationship with the weather is sort of like the fling described in the song. The gorgeous colors and scents of autumn will inevitably be displaced by winter, but I don’t mind that this lovely weather is only temporary. What we have is now, and as Steve has remarked about this song, “it’s kind of about relationships [that are] not really going anywhere, but you just go with it anyway.”