Electric. The energy in the room was absolutely electric. On October 6th, Declan Mckenna performed at the Metro in Chicago. The minute that you walk into the venue, the infectious energy of the stage and venue begins to sink in. A checkered backdrop of a globe leaves fans wondering what will be in store for them for the next 2 hours. There was one fan putting Declan’s iconic glitter makeup on the faces of people who had been waiting years to see McKenna on his “Zeros Tour.”
Because of COVID-19, it has been difficult for artists to get back on tour and for Declan, it has been nearly three years. His opener, Annie DiRusso, and her band come on stage with neon green turtlenecks and fun tropical fish shirts. Her 18-year-old lead guitarist was jumping on a trampoline. Immediately, fans started banging their heads upon hearing DiRusso’s infectious guitar riffs and rock-star presence. Fans scream “And I used to be smart and I used to be nice but I’m neither of those and I’m feeling alright” from her most popular song “Coming Soon.”
After DiRusso finished her set, Declan went on with a bang wearing a silver jumpsuit, a vintage vest, and leather loafers: Quite an eclectic look. He ran with purple-heart glasses on his face, to “With a Little Help From My Friends” blasting in the background. It is honestly really surprising to see a ton of teenagers moshing to the Beatles. He launched right into his indie rock banger “Beautiful Faces,” which is about all the different people that you may encounter on a night out with friends. In his lyrics, McKenna sings “And as the Earth returned to calmly dress itself in white/We got a glimpse of all the people going out tonight/Big guys and little guys, and bad guys in cuffs/I bet they can’t get enough.” He juxtaposes these lyrics with wanting a night in and experiencing what it is like to spend a night alone: “Tonight I’m good staying inside/But I’ll be dancing for sure/Going to the stores, pullin’ socks out of the drawers/Of the people who you don’t love anymore.”
As he continued to sing, the crowd got closer in distance and in thought. Live music can bring people together in mysterious ways. McKenna is a natural. He strutted that stage like it was his runway. There was not one moment of the show where everyone was not on their feet. During the Tik-Tok viral song “Brazil,” fans screamed McKenna’s lyrics back to him in excitement. McKenna grinned widely as he continued to perform. It was surreal. After this song, Declan ran off stage and came on with another bang. Breaking out his Union Jack emblemed Guitar while singing his 2020 single “British Bombs,” which addresses British colonialism and its effects.
I have been a fan of McKenna for around five years, and seeing him live was one of the most magical moments I have ever experienced. I’m not sure if it was his golden-glitter Fender guitar, but there was an extra sense of child-like excitement in my heart that I have not felt in a really long time.
You can keep up with Declan and his band here: