Koajque at Whelan’s, Saturday 23rd of February, 2019

All eyes were on Kojaque as he bounced on to Whelan’s stage, well at least for anyone who managed to secure a ticket for the night. Many people felt the wrath of the dreaded Ticketmaster loading screen as tickets for this gig, which was only announced 2 weeks ago, sold-out within six minutes. A clear sign that Soft Season has well and truly begun.

Kean Kavanagh warmed up the crowd with his languid jazz rumblings, providing an altogether different, but welcome, energy than what was to come. Recent singles Coca Cola Sky and Feel Me? stand out in a set that’s increasingly becoming more polished.

Tonight is the one year anniversary of the release of Kojaque’s critically acclaimed debut ‘Deli Daydreams’ [read our review here]. Much has happened in that time; a string of top quality releases under the Soft Boy label, a raft of impressive videos, airplay across the world including BBC Radio and a Choice Music Prize nomination.

Usually Kojaque performs with a stripped back setup, Kavanagh on decks, Oisin Murtagh on sax with a sprinkle of Luka Palm on featured tracks. Tonight is a full band affair with drums, keys, guitar, bass and all the trimmings.

Clad in Columbia armour, Kevin Smith (Kojaque) kicks off the night just as ‘Deli Daydreams’ begins. White Noise lyrics “I’m just a north side DC baby, Me mammy raised me” boom across the room, all attention to the stage.

At points, Kojaque looks like a man possessed, laser focussed on the task at hand. He spits bars with passion and aims verses directly at the crowd, pointing and staring back intently.

As he takes up the role of the deli worker the colourful armour is put to one side to reveal the apron Kojaque donned on the front cover of his triumpant debut.

Love and Braggadocio, Bubby’s Cream and new single Flu Shot standout in an impressive set littered with big moments. The highlight of the night comes when Kean Kavanagh leaves the back of the stage to join Kojaque front and centre on Eviction Notice. The crowd react with fervent appreciation. A Soft Boy anthem.

When Luka Palm enters the fray late on, his presence seems to calm the whole stage down. Everything that follows does so with a smoother flow. He appears to lend bars to Politicksis, Date Night and other popular tracks.

Just before the night ends, there’s time for a crowd surf and an injection of mayhem with Wificode. The perfect end to a incredibly high quality musical performance. From start to finish, the intensity and the musicianship is on point. The hype surrounding the gig is justified and punters in the room got everything they wished for.

Bigger venues await for sure, possibly a Choice nod and a few big festivals slots will speed things up. You get a feeling that Kojaque and the Soft Boy crew are carving out their own path, at their own pace, exactly how they want it to be. The future is soft.