By Bryan McCabe
The end of the year is great. People have holidays to look forward to, they get to spend time with family, and some even get time off of work. One thing that does suck about the end of the year, though, is that there are barely any concerts to go to. Mostly for the previously mentioned reasons that make it a great time of year. Fortunately for us music lovers, pop punk’s rising star, KennyHoopla, decided to close out the year with a quick four date tour between Christmas and New Years.KennyHoopla’s “Home For The Holidays” tour hit up Nashville, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Madison. While most concert reviews only cover one date of a tour, I was fortunate enough to catch his shows in both Chicago and Madison.
Up first was day two of Kenny’s tour at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL. Before the doors even opened there were eager fans waiting to run to the front of the stage to claim their spot for the night. With the room already nearing capacity, opener Jackie Hayes took the stage and made quick work of getting the crowd fired up for the night. I had never heard her music before, but she does a great job of mixing indie and rock that ranges from upbeat angst fueled songs that just make you want to jump around, to slower tempo songs that lay all of her feelings out there for everyone. With the crowd fully warmed up, it was nearing time for KennyHoopla to take the stage.
The sold out crowd was nearly bursting with excitement when the first chords of “silence is also an answer//” started to ring out, and then the words “can you hear me now” right before the song kicked the intro into high gear caused everyone in the crowd to go absolutely crazy. Right from the get go KennyHoopla is an uncontainable ball of energy that is all over the stage. Between running all over the stage, holding hands with his fans, and sharing the mic to sing along with the crowd, the intensity and passion never lets up. As energetic and hyper as his stage presence can be, he did take a few minutes to address the untimely and devastating loss of his mother that occurred a few months ago. It just so happened that tonight was his mom’s birthday, and while sporting a shirt with his mom’s photo on it, he led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” loud enough for her to hear it up in heaven, as he put it. He took that opportunity to lead right into a new unreleased song that was written for her. The heaviness of the song was a gut punch of emotions as both the silent crowd and KennyHoopla were fighting back tears. After that it was time to get the crowd moving again and songs like “smoke break//” and “hollywood sucks//” whipped the room back into a frenzy that was singing every word just as loud as Kenny. From countless crowd surfers, stage divers, and KennyHoopla diving into the crowd to sing with his adoring fans, the energy and excitement in the room was unmistakable. All of that emotion and frenzy and this was just my first night of seeing him.
Up next was the fourth and final night of his tour. New Years Eve at High Noon Saloon in Madison, WI. This was another sold out night, and I was expecting the crowd to go balls to the wall considering his close hometown ties to the area. Just like my first night, Jackie Hayes swiftly got the crowd primed and ready for the action that was awaiting them throughout the night. Tonight there was an additional opener, Groupthink. I’m not totally sure how to describe his music. Perhaps indie rap? With hints of 80’s style drums and falsetto vocals. Regardless of what you want to call it, his music got the crowd dancing all over the place. He’s another artist with strong Madison ties and this city was definitely showing him their support. His songs “Guilty Pleasure” and “Peach Fuzz” especially got the crowd excited. Of course it was nearing time for Wisconsin’s pop punk darling to take the stage though.
This was shaping up to be another extra special night. This time several members of Kenny’s family were sidestage to witness the pouring out of his heart that he gives his fans at every show. Once again “ silence is also an answer//” started and the crowd instantly broke out into a unified mass of fervor. Much of the set was the same as Chicago, but while Chicago was all about the stage divers and crowd surfers, Madison sang every word at the top of their lungs while moshing nearly the entire night. Plus the fans got to ring in the new year with their favorite artist. Not many fans get that opportunity. By the end of his set, KennyHoopla was soaked from head to toe and clearly exhausted, but he wasn’t ready to call it quits quite yet. He came back out, and with his signature backflip he kicked his encore up another notch as he started into his breakout hit “estella//”. He closed out the night with “hollywood sucks//” and the crowd gave him every last bit of energy that they had left. Neither Kenny or the crowd held anything back that night. Both nights clearly showed how much KennyHoopla’s fans adore him. If you ever see that he’s coming around your area, do not hesitate to check him out and see what all of the hoopla is about.
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