On a warm Thursday, the halls of KOKO were treated to the tender tones of the Chicago Born David Kushner. His fame primarily came from his song ‘Daylight’, a doleful anthem that blew up on TikTok. His voice is an instrument to illustrate pain and suffering or a deep love for a cat on a motorbike (wearing a tiny helmet). A simple ballad of heartbreak speaks to a younger audience, providing guidance for emotions that have gone.
The lush burgundy of KOKO was awash with a bluish-purple light from the get-go, as a crowd of Snapchat-wielding teens filled the room. In addition, there was a fair few accompanying adults. This was a vibrant audience, with memories of the pandemic long in the background. If you wanted a flavor of the type of audience it is, the preshow playlist featured ‘As It Was‘, and the entire audience knew every word. Furthermore, they all screamed ‘Leave America’ with a fervor that would shame most drill sergeants.
The night was opened by Chance Peña, a Texan musician who’s also blown up on TikTok. He opens his set with his song ‘Sleep Deprivation‘. His soulful Texan tones wash over the audience. Moreover, those that know the words join in, and those that don’t nod along. Peña stands in a halo of white light, reminiscing about past relationships whilst playing songs that have a ‘road-trip’ vibe. His voice quivers slightly as he delves deep into his feelings. Whilst his lyrics aren’t deep, those ballads sweep the room. These include tracks like ‘In My Room‘ and ‘Up Through The Wind‘. Alongside him is his bandmate, who plays guitar and mans an Ableton session on a laptop. There’s something DIY about the performance, yet also authentic. Further to this, his falsetto transports the audience to the front seat of an automatic car, traveling away from breakups and into sunsets.
There was then a short pause before the main act, before he finally was visible to the audience. Dressed in long black trousers, a black tank, and a jacket, David Kushner enters the stage with rapturous applause and a fair bit of screaming. Beginning with his song ‘Dead Man‘ everyone is with him. He has a huge voice, that deep and sweet voice spilling into all of the nooks and crannies of KOKO. Phones rush up to meet it, like children running into the sea. Further to this, he performs fan favourite, ‘Mr. Forgettable‘. The track is about his Grandfather with Alzheimer’s. His audience hangs on his hooks like the eponymous ‘Hello, hello, are you lonely? I’m sorry, it’s just the chemicals,’. Indeed, this is a sentiment that speaks to the inner loneliness within us all.
David Kushner has that air of, your small town’s favourite singer. He dances around the stage and takes a moment to be real with the audience. Bracelets are thrown to him (luckily not at him) and he waddles to lean and pick one up. He’s clearly having fun and waving to the audience who all cheer when he does. Furthermore, one of these bracelets has actual gold on it.
He continues, playing the unreleased ‘Georgia Rain‘, illuminated in tennis ball green light. Then he leaves the auditorium to chants of ‘one more song’. Following this, he makes a triumphant return with ‘Daylight‘, shrouded in a Union Jack. Meanwhile, the hugely popular, reverb-heavy refrain is screamed back at him. Throughout the track, phrases that form an underlining tool to one’s teenage angst. His lush voice emphasises and it’s a moving moment. David Kushner truly makes music for you to be sad too.
It’s not a flashy performance, with no confetti, dancers, or floating pianos, but, it is enough to transport you away for an evening. To conclude, David Kushner has a bright future ahead of him, and his music will be the guiding light.