AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


AU's Student-Run Internet-Only Radio


Emily’s Earbuds: Darren Kiely leaves DC9 in a worshipful trance 

Sophie Banker
Darrien Kiely at DC9

On Saturday, Feb. 3, my roommate Sophie and I made the trek down to U Street to see Darren Kiely at DC9. As people flooded eagerly into the small upstairs room, it was clear that there was a huge amount of anticipation for this show.

Opener Kyndal Inskeep (and her instrumentalist, Gabe) started with an unreleased track, “the voice,” which I liked a lot, as well as a few tracks that the audience was familiar with, including “Parachute,” and “Honest” which she smoothly mashed up with Fleetwood Mac’s iconic “Landslide,” to which the audience enthusiastically sang along. 

Between the opener and main act, Sophie and I chatted with the (somewhat inebriated) people around us. It seemed everyone discovered Darren Kiely through his song “Mom & Dad,” which is easily my favorite of his songs (as Sophie said after the show — and I quote — “‘Mom & Dad’ is a glorious masterpiece and I f*cking love it.”) 

When Darren Kiely took the stage, he started with his first ever single, “How Could You Love Me,” followed by an impressive setlist of songs from his EP, unreleased music, and one (fantastic) cover of Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season.”

Following “Stick Season,” Darren played the beloved “Mom & Dad,” to an absolutely feral audience. When he finished, he came down from the stage and played acoustic, in the middle of the crowd, as we sang along to “Ella” softly, so we could still hear him. He shifted slowly in a circle as he sang with no microphone, never missing a note. When someone in the audience sneezed, every one of us was too entranced to be polite, but Darren himself still said “bless you.” 

Back up onstage, he played “Lost & Found” (for which Kyndal Inskeep joined him back onstage), a favorite of mine, and “Time To Leave,” another excellent song from his EP “Lost.” 

For the last two songs, Darren brought out someone he introduced to us as his “best friend Vincent Lima” (who has a hilarious Spotify biography) and onstage together, they were magnificent. With Vincent on piano and Darren on guitar, they ended the night with “Sunrise,” for which I bought a t-shirt after the show.

Vincent Lima (left) and Darren Kiely at DC9 (Sophie Banker)

Darren’s vocals all night were excellent. Typically, when an artist performs live, they don’t sound nearly as talented as they do on their polished, edited, as-many-takes-as-needed studio versions. But Darren truly proved his mettle as a vocalist performing under the pressure of a live audience.

This was my second time attending a concert at DC9, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. DC9 is a very short walk from the U Street (Green Line) metro stop, and has professional, personable staff. You can attend their events even if you are not yet 21, and their upstairs concert venue has a close, intimate vibe that is only improved once the stage is lit up different colors, and you notice that the disco ball hanging near the bar is shaped like Darth Vader’s helmet. 

If you like Hozier, Noah Kahan, “Folklore” or “Evermore,” then you would love Darren Kiely’s music (in my professional opinion). If you only check out one song from this article, check out “Mom & Dad,” but I can’t recommend enough that you listen to his entire EP, “Lost,” listed on Spotify as his first album.

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    Dan MillerFeb 26, 2024 at 12:43 pm

    Thank you for the review! Excited to see Darren play in Austin in March!