LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Declan McKenna @ The Sinclair 08.15.17

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British teen sensation Declan McKenna wrapped up his first US headline tour last night at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA with what would prove to be a raucous night of music. McKenna first emerged onto the scene by winning Glastonbury Festival’s “Emerging Talent Competition” in 2015, at just 16 years old. His debut single “Brazil” peaked at number one on Sirius XM Radio’s Alt Nation Countdown in January of 2016, and would remain there for three straight weeks. Earlier this summer, McKenna released his debut album, “What Do You Think About the Car?” an 11 track effort that climbed to number 11 on the “UK Albums” chart.

On Tuesday night, a line of fans, mostly McKenna’s age or younger stretched down the block and around the corner near The Sinclair. Fans had arrived earlier in the afternoon to stake out a good spot for the show. Some fans in line even had gifts, including a bouquet of flowers, that they would later hand McKenna during his set.

Opening the evening’s festivities was another up and coming act, Bowling Green, Kentucky’s Dan Luke and the Raid. The band is lead by Dan Shultz, the younger sibling of Brad and Matthew Shultz from Cage the Elephant. It’s easy to see the family resemblance on stage as Shultz puts an enormous amount of effort into every show he plays. The group played through a 25 minute set of material mostly from their debut EP “Be Good” including the hot song “Black Cat Heavy Metal.” Shultz’s stage presence is that of a natural, and it’s clear that having watched his brother perform he has been well taught. However, the youngest Shultz is hoping to carve out a path of his own by putting his own touch on things. Shultz sings and plays guitar in the band was moving around the stage pulling guitar hero poses nearly every time he didn’t have to be at the mic. Shultz worked up quite a sweat whipping the Cambridge crowd into a frenzy, and getting them in the mind frame for Declan McKenna.

Being his first headline show in the Cambridge/Boston area, fans weren’t exactly sure what to expect from McKenna, but he quickly made it clear. Opening with the tune “Isombard” McKenna initially had to battle the loud cheers of his extremely excited audience – not a bad problem to have. Another one of his popular tracks, “The Kids Don’t Want to Come Home” was another point in the set where the voices of the young audience were raised while singing along. McKenna’s energy level rised as his set went on, feeding off the crowd’s energy. During the song “Paracetamol” McKenna jumped into the crowd and began to walk around the venue, he made his way to the second level balcony where he climbed over the railing in an attempt to stage dive from the balcony. The Sinclair’s security team however did not approve and followed McKenna, grabbing him by the waist in an attempt to keep him from jumping. After a brief and light struggle, McKenna climbed over the railing back to the balcony floor side, and waited for security to walk away, before turning around, climbing back over the railing and finally pulling off his balcony dive. Venue security appeared to be none too pleased with McKenna, but to their credit they did allow him to finish his set instead of shutting down the show as has been the case on some occurrences.

McKenna would wrap up by playing his hit “Brazil” to close the main set, and returning for a one song encore of “Listen to Your Friends” which McKenna and his band played with openers Dan Luke and the Raid. The entire night he got more and more raucous as the show went on, often climbing the subs to the left and right of the stage or even playing guitar while holding a bouquet of flowers between his teeth putting on an absolutely unforgettable show. McKenna is part Britpop, part punk rock, and a whole lot of entertaining, and at this early stage of his career, the sky’s the ceiling for McKenna who takes his already catchy music and adds a dimension of danger and fun to live show.

For more on Declan McKenna or to purchase his debut album, “What Do You Think About the Car?” log on to McKenna’s official website

Photos – Declan McKenna, Dan Luke and the Raid – 08/15/17:

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