It isn’t often that I happen upon a band that is on the brink of something incredible while standing in the darkened and cold room of The Hotel Cafe. Enter Kodaline. An Ireland-based rock band with the emotional maturity and endless depth of talent that bands beyond their years hardly ever possess. It’s one thing to listen to their song “All I Want” on a drive down the 101 freeway in the middle of the night, it’s an entirely different story witnessing this song come to life on the intimate stage of a small venue. Comprised of Stephen Garrigan (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Vinnie May Jr. (Drums/Vocals), Jason Boland (Bass/Vocals) and Mark Prendergast (Guitar/Vocals); this is a band in which every member is in touch with the fiery passion of creation.
With a sold out show, the tiny room that makes up the timeless Los Angeles venue was packed with mostly women in their early twenties (no surprise when you take one look at Garrigan), all there to see Kodaline take the stage. While I couldn’t tell you what the first song they played was, because I was much to distracted by the distraction of the frontman, I know the exact moment that they begin to settle in to their surrounds and connect with the audience. It was explosive. Exactly the kind of musical experience that everyone should expect to have when they walk into a show.
“Pray for You” is an ethereal, haunting piece of music that draws you in from the moment that the first chord is struck and Garrigan’s voice filters out through the speakers. It was a song written about desperate emptiness that suddenly made the room come alive, all kinetic energy, as their intricate harmonies, rolling drums and building instrumentation became as blistering as it was touching. On “Perfect World” the band effortless showcased the influences that litter their songs. With hints of the Beatles and a massive dose of U2, they’re as dependent on their harmonies to make a song more interesting as they are on the songwriting itself. There isn’t a single arrangement that isn’t unique and captivating, which translates just as well on stage as it does on the recordings.
They finished their set with their most popular single, “All I Want.” With a stripped down intro and warm harmonies that fill up the hopelessness buried within the lyrics, it’s a song that leaves you hanging on every tender note. All folk and heart, it’s no surprise that every woman in the room was singing along, familiar with the desperation and intense emotions that come with an earth shattering separation.
Kodaline knows who their audience is and, more than that, they know how to write for that audience. With beautiful building choruses, emotive and dynamic vocals, they have the courage it takes to put those emotions on display. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this isn’t the last time I’ll see them in such an intimate setting, though something tells me it is.
Check out their newest video below and visit their official website for more information.