In the course of recent American music history, there has been a constant need for an act to appeal to teenage girls. I traditionally associate this onset with the Beatles’ arrival in the early 1960s, with musical artists such as The Jackson Five, David Cassidy, New Kids On the Block and Justin Bieber following in their footsteps to fill the constantly changing void.
At the Majestic Theatre Sunday night, rising pop-rock artist Declan McKenna brought his bid to become the next singer to fill this need from England to Madison. While there were many admirable aspects to his performance, I found his performance lacked the refined edge needed to continue his appeal to a wider audience to become the teen phenom he so desperately wants to be.
Over the course of his set, McKenna’s persona reflected a unique blend of David Bowie, One Direction and social justice. As someone not familiar with McKenna’s performance style, this was confusing to say the least.
For example, McKenna performed his hit debut single about politics surrounding the 2014 World Cup, “Brazil,” while spinning around the stage with his microphone, clad in a black velvet vest with golden glitter adorning his eyelids.
McKenna was far more concerned with having fun on stage and being a “rockstar” than connecting with his music, singing his lyrics so unintelligibly not only could I not understand the premise of his pieces, I did not notice when he flubbed the lyrics on one of his songs.
The nonsense words sounded exactly like the rest of what he was singing in the relatively small venue, indicating a greater emphasis on diction is needed in order for McKenna to play larger venues that will be expected of him if his stardom continues to rise.
The on-stage antics did not stop there, as at a certain point it seemed McKenna had enough of looking pretty on the stage. He first demonstrated this during the song “Paracetamol,” throwing an LGBTQ+ flag into the audience in reference to the themes of the song suggesting that some “problems” cannot cured and everyone is perfect the way they are.
Svdden Death builds off big year with ‘Junkworld,’ crushes Madison performanceFor those unfamiliar with the dubstep world, Svdden Death emblazoned his way onto the scene in 2017 with arguably the Read…
While this is certainly an admirable and mature topic for someone to write about as a teenager, McKenna evaded hitting at the heart of the problem and instead focused this piece to be about him and his antics. This was quickly followed by a brief moment of crowd surfing in the next song, which I am surprised he survived given he flung himself into a crowd of unprepared teenagers.
To top it off, he paraded around the balcony of the Majestic while strumming simplistic chords on his custom-made glittered electric guitar, eliciting many screams from the crowd but lacking musical finesse.
Lil Yachty fails to live up to fullest musical potential on ‘Lil Boat 2’Ever since his debut in 2015, rapper Lil Yachty has progressed in his evolving rap career. Collaborating with DRAM, Chance Read…
McKenna did have a bright spot to end his concert with the song “Listen to Your Friends,” the only number where I could distinguish what words he was singing. As I learned after the concert, this was the first song Declan released that was not primarily written by himself in his bedroom, which goes to show what a little bit of production and refinement can do for an artist.
Perhaps if McKenna can smooth out his performances and songs to become more understandable, more mainstream and less reckless, he can be as big as Bowie and One Direction were combined. Until then, he still has work to do to fill the teen phenom void.