Matthew Koma is not only a joy to speak to, but also a joy to watch perform. Onstage at Hotel Café, accompanied only by his guitar, he gave his audience a stunning night of song.
The crowd was busy chatting and grabbing drinks at the bar – taking advantage of the casual and cozy Hotel Café setting. They didn’t realize, at first, that Koma had taken the stage. He walked on discreetly, relaxed and ready to go. Without saying a word, he began playing his first number, a yet to be released song entitled “When I Do.” The buzzing audience immediately quieted down at the sound of Koma’s acoustic intro. Singing the lyrics “I don’t miss you, except when I do,” he set the scene for the night – an evening of songs expertly written, embodying exactly what songs should be: stories.
Second up in his set was “Hard to Love,” his most recent single, released in February of this year. The first verse, full of description, sings: “I’m OCD with panic attacks/ I got a thing for Japanese dry snacks / My voice was on like every f***n’ house track / Tell me when you heard enough, enough, enough’s enough.”
Up until this point, the crowd had been relatively quiet, attentively listening to Koma sing. But let me tell you, as soon as he said “My voice was on like every f***n’ house track,” various sections of the audience erupted into cheers – beautifully exposing a room full of Koma supporters, whether playing an acoustic set in front of a few hundred, or a night of EDM in front of thousands. His ability to perform in either setting speaks volumes to his writing and musicianship.
“How you doing?!” Koma asked the audience. “It’s been a while since I did one of these acoustic shows… I kinda like them. I’ve been doing a lot of DJ shows. And honestly, the audience is probably so f***ed up by the time I come on that it doesn’t really matter if I suck,” he joked, drawing laughter from the room. “But this is different, ” he continued, “I’ve seen a lot of shows here and I love when people come to this place and have an excuse to play some songs.”
That love was evident, both in Koma and in all of us watching him perform. He was interactive, describing what inspired him to write certain songs the way he did, and constantly making us laugh with his witticisms. After playing my favorite song of the night, the alluring and sobering “Are You Okay?” Koma took a second to adjust some technical settings on the floor of the stage. As he was doing so, we saw him interacting with someone in the audience. Koma then leaned into the microphone and said, “My brother just told me my fly’s open. You thought you were just getting a music show…”
One of the most refreshing parts of the performance came when Koma was singing his GRAMMY-winning song, “Clarity.” In the middle of the number, he suddenly stopped, and with a genuine laugh he remarked, “I just f***ing forgot the words to my own f***ing big song.” The audience, myself included, broke out into amused applause. There is something special about watching a seasoned professional make a mistake, and own up to it with humor and grace. “I can f***ing change the words, I f***ing wrote it!” Koma quipped, as he continued onwards, met with collective laughter and encouraging yells from the crowd.
Matthew Koma’s show has been one of my favorites in the last year. As a listener with an affinity for acoustic sessions (as evidenced by my RIYL), I cannot speak highly enough of Koma’s performance. Whether singing “We Might Fall,” his newest single to be released next week, or platinum-selling “Wasted,” co-written with Tiesto and Twice as Nice, Koma delivered. His unique voice was captivating and full of emotion, conveying each lyric with a purposeful thoughtfulness that I thoroughly appreciated.
He will be performing at Hotel Café again on March 29th, be sure to get your tickets and check him out!
Matthew Koma Hotel Café Set List:
1) When I Do
2) Hard to Love
3) Are You Okay?
4) Stay Home
6) We Might Fall
1) Kisses Back
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