Published Apr 21, 2017Taking the stage with her Stratocaster and a single floor tom, Madeline Kenney asked the crowd at the Great Hall to chill out in preparation for her set of twangy dream pop. "I know the energy level's been up here," she said, motioning with her hand, "but let's take it all the way down here."
Without a band behind her, Kenney's sound was much more raw than her 2016 EP Signals might have listeners expect. In building up her compositions live, she would fingerpick her way through some initial chord changes and loop them, before holding a second microphone to the drum, tapping out simple rhythms that were repeated with a second loop pedal.
When it came to her six strings, Kenney added colour by playing small snippets of melodic lead or starting pre-existing solo loops with the tap of the pedal. She wasn't hesitant to let loose in strumming forcefully, either, to tap into crunchy distortion or sparkly reverb. Her vocals impressed too, remaining smooth and controlled even in moments of powerful projection.
As powerful as Kenney's voice was, incessant chatter from the back of the room was a constant. The talking amongst the audience reached a peak when she took it upon herself to kindly ask the room for a moment of silence while she corrected the timing on her loops. It still wasn't quiet enough to hear a pin drop, but it was arguably the crowd's loss, as Kenney is sure to garner much more attention going forward than the first six rows of the Great Hall had given her.