Kodaline Brings Their Irish Charm to Los Angeles


For those that are familiar with the Irish band Kodaline, it may seem like they burst onto the music scene just two years ago with their popular folk album In a Perfect World, but the band formerly known as 21 Demands, have actually been together for over nine years. After all that time, they are finally playing to the larger audiences they deserve, at iconic venues like the Wiltern in Los Angeles. Hundreds of loyal fans came out on Tuesday, May 5th to see the band perform songs from their sophomore album, Coming Up For Air, for the first time.

Excitement and hopes were high for the concert as the audience made their way into the venue. Surprisingly, the crowd was comprised mostly of teenagers. Considering the band’s Coldplay-like sound, I expected a slightly older demographic. Nonetheless, the mainly female crowd’s chattering about their favorite performances from their last show, revealed the majority of them had seen the band play before, a testament to Kodaline’s loyal, and still growing, young fan base.

The band’s first experience with musical success was as 21 Demands in November 2006, when they were on the Irish talent show You’re a Star; finishing as the series’ runners-up. They released their first single, “Give Me a Minute” in March 2007, through digital7 downloads on the RTÉ website and made chart history when the single topped the Irish Singles Chart. However, the group decided to change their name after their initial success because, as Mark Prendergast said in an interview, “they didn’t really like the music they were playing.” Lead vocalist Steve Garrigan and guitarist Prendergast have known each other since childhood. The two started playing together as teens and after many band iterations, they found their final two members Vinny May and Jason Boland and settled on the name Kodaline.

On Tuesday, the band took their places on the stage, and didn’t really move for the majority of the show. Along with their movement, Kodaline’s crowd interaction was also kept to a minimum. They kept things minimalistic, which would have been okay if the audience wasn’t so boring, but the crowd never seemed to fully engage in the show and it took away from the overall ambiance. Things felt a little stiff, but what they lacked in stage presence, they made up for with their sound.

The number of songs from their first and sophomore albums were balanced equally, and the refinement in their style over the years was easy to pinpoint. They would bounce from the older folky numbers that were seemingly cut from the same indie-rock hit mold, to unique new songs that are distinctly bolder and brighter than their older material.

They started off the show with the song “Ready” off their latest album Coming Up For Air. It was a happy uptempo start to the show that worked well with the acoustics inside the Wiltern. Had the crowd been a little more interactive, it would have been the kind of song to make people get up and dance.

The song that really kicked off the gig, however, was “Unclear,” which started off delicately and burst into a faster paced, drum-thumping affair rounded out by Garrigan’s melodic howling. Teamed with the thrashing white lights illuminating the back of the stage, the song mirrored the gig with its deceivingly average start interrupted by a display of the band’s incredible talent.


Johnny McDaid joins Kodaline

The lighting actually played a very important role throughout the performance. When all six spotlights were focused on Garrigan at the center of the stage, his blonde mop was left illuminated, giving him an angelic glow. A blue wash accompanied slower, moodier songs while bright red flashing lights added to the tension of faster-paced fares. The lights gave the impression of watching the show through 3D glasses. This spectacular, pulsing visual feast alongside Garrigan’s unconventional vocals gave a powerful live-music experience despite the band staying stationary on the stage.

Their departure from the stage after an hour was received with impatience for an encore. It was probably the most enthusiastic the crowd got all night and Kodaline’s return to the stage with their newest single “Honest” seemed to finally wake up the audience. The last song of the night, “All I Want,” their biggest commercial success to date–making it onto the “Fault in Our Stars” soundtrack and an episode of Grey’s Anatomy– was a fan favorite. The song encapsulated the pleasing acoustic guitar and airy, stripped back vocal sound that Kodaline is known for. At the same time, it probably wasn’t the best selection for an encore considering the melancholy lyrics.

Kodaline’s runaway success in the two years since their rebirth only suggests that the band will continue to grow in popularity. And with their already refined stage presence, it’s exciting to see how they can progress even further over the next few years.

Photography by Rosemary Vega.

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