Live Review: Kenny Hoopla (support: Meet Me At The Altar) at Birmingham O2 Academy 2 (2nd June 2022)
Review by Scott Reader
Whilst many people were hanging bunting, drinking tea and eating scones over the Jubilee weekend, others were waiting to witness the growing phenomenon that is Kenny Hoopla.
If you’re not familiar with his work, think of a grittier version of Blink 182, boosted by exceptional social media reach, resulting in over 1.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Not bad for an artist that released the majority of his music after the Covid-19 pandemic started. Kenny provides a new breed of pop punk which is clearly well received, as the rescheduled ‘Survivors Guilt’ tour includes multiple venue upgrades, and additional dates added due to demand.
The audience for the sold out show was a diverse one. Kenny’s appeal traverses through genre stereotypes, with various ages and styles on display. The TikTok fame, and lenient age restrictions at the venue, brought a generally younger crowd, which for the most part may well have been at their first show considering years of lockdowns.
No support was announced prior to the show, so it was a pleasant surprise to see Meet Me At The Altar setting up. Their first ever show overseas, the USA based easycore band came out with bags of energy, crushing mathcore-esque riffs and a really tight performance, delivering breakdown after breakdown.
Unfortunately, the crowd could not match their energy. Not even close. This may be due to the lack of announcement prior to the show, the differing tastes of the crowd, or the possible inexperience of a young, lockdown haunted audience who haven’t developed the confidence to head bang in public. It was a disappointing reception to a band playing their first show oversees, and they soon headed to Twitter to voice their frustrations.
That all changed when Kenny Hoopla hit the stage. The atmosphere was huge, and everyone had woken up for the opening song, ‘Smoke Break’. Everyone except the band that is. There was clearly a miscommunication somewhere, with different members playing different songs, leading to 2 false starts, and angry looks on stage dampening the atmosphere.
However, on the third attempt, they came together, with the audience singing word for word on every song, and the band soon shaking off the earlier mistakes. They smashed through the setlist including the ever popular ‘How Will I Rest in Peace if I’m Buried by a Highway?’ and ‘Estella’, and despite having a few more mistakes than expected, Kenny had the crowd eating out of his hand throughout, singing acapella intros, and responding to fans chanting his name with genuine shock and gratitude.
The show ended with his signature on stage backflip, a huge mosh pit, and an encore of ‘Hollywood Sucks’. Despite the setbacks, even attentive musos were leaving with a smile on their face. It certainly wasn’t a flawless musical performance, but instead an opportunity to witness the early rise of a future superstar.