In honor of his second album “Zeros,” Declan McKenna returned to the 9:30 Club on Oct. 12 to give a memorable performance with Annie DiRusso opening. A concert infused with the high school nostalgia of McKenna’s debut album, “What Do You Think About the Car?,” DiRusso's hypnotic talent and the booming energy of the crowd, McKenna and DiRusso proved that they are truly defining musicians of Gen Z.
DiRusso and her band entered the stage wearing matching black and white graphic t-shirts that DiRusso’s mom gifted the band. Not only were the outfits the same, but the band’s energy was in sync as well, feeding off of each other during the performance.
Some audience members were clearly fans of both DiRusso and McKenna, with one bringing an “Annie” Broadway musical poster. Giving context for the poster, DiRusso explained how she once auditioned for the musical: “I was in the musical in seventh grade, but I didn’t get the part of Annie, I was orphan Duffy or something.”
DiRusso continued giving anecdotes throughout her performance, explaining the backstory behind specific experiences for every song she sang. Most songs were from DiRusso’s time in college, allowing the collegiate-aged audience to relate and feel a deeper connection to the performance.
Before DiRusso began playing “Judgements From The World’s Greatest Band,” she explained that she wrote that song after a one-night stand in a room with a giant poster of The Beatles on the wall, feeling as though John Lennon was judging her.
Despite the lighthearted anecdotes, DiRusso still created moments of raw emotional power during her set. One of the most notable performances was of her recent single, “Infinite Jest.” During the beginning of the song, her bandmates sat on the stage to the side, giving DiRusso the floor. As the song intensified, band members joined in one by one, until the venue was filled with sound, creating a moving experience for the audience.
The enthusiasm continued into McKenna’s performance as he made his grand entrance wearing a sparkly tuxedo. Explaining his outfit, McKenna said, “I wear black so you can’t see my sweat patches.”
The energy of the audience and McKenna alike grew exponentially with each song. The excitement from the crowd practically radiated as McKenna returned after his set for a five-song encore, playing fan-favorites many were desperately waiting for. The penultimate song was none other than McKenna’s hit “Brazil.” The venue erupted with cheers as the iconic guitar intro started playing, and the audience sang every word with such devotion their voices overpowered that of McKenna’s.
McKenna’s rock and roll performance of “British Bombs” closed off the concert with a bang. He played the song with an electric guitar donning the British flag, which he then smashed on the stage during the climax of the song. The ground shook as the audience jumped up and down to the beat, with McKenna dancing around as well, running across the stage and at one point, standing on the piano.
The lively and mesmerizing nature of McKenna and DiRusso’s performances reminds fans of not only their unique and forceful musicianship, but also of their true gift as rockstars.