Cooper Alan live in DC & lessons of TikTok stardom

The North Carolina native played to die hard fans in the nation’s capital

It is always an interesting feeling knowing that you are watching someone on their way to becoming somebody. Last night (Sun, Aug 22nd), TikTok sensation Cooper Alan took the stage at Hamilton Live in Washington, DC for a two hour set that proved social media fame can translate into real life.

At the time of this writing, Alan has 4.3 million followers on the app. TikTok, which exploded in popularity during the height of the pandemic, allows comedians, musicians, and other creators to gain a large following quickly. Users can follow the app’s “trends” for fast engagement, or build an organic audience with original content. Alan did the latter by sharing a mix of original music and creative mashups.

In the interim, a whole cottage industry cropped up around these TikTokers: Drop shipping companies focused on pushing out merch, management firms aimed at capitalizing on (or siphoning off of) the creators’ fame. But then there are some who choose to go it alone. Cooper Alan started his own record label with hitmaker Victoria Shaw (“The River;” “Where Your Road Leads”). Cooper Alan is the head of Cooped Up Records as well as, naturally, the first signed artist.

Because TikTok fame can happen so rapidly, the biggest question had been whether those astronomical numbers would follow their favorite creators beyond the vacuum of the platform. Alan’s show in DC proved that answer is a resounding YES.

Wearing a simple gray t-shirt and a backwards flat-brim trucker cap, Cooper Alan played some of his biggest hits early on in the show. Backed by a three-piece group cranked to jam band levels, “Too Soon” and a remake of AfroMan’s “Colt .45” got the crowd going. Recent release “Drinkle” — about all the things a drink’ll do — came just in time for the rowdy audience’s inebriation to kick in.

One of Alan’s strongest suits is his ability to work a crowd. Instead of powering from song to song, he took the time to get to know his audience on a personal level. He gave an entire table a round of drinks and mingled in the crowd during a number performed by the band. He truly made everyone feel like they were there together as one. After all, the crowd already felt they knew him from all those 60-second TikTok mashups.

Speaking of those mashups, Alan called out his social media haters who claim he can’t country-fy classics on the spot. An 11 minute song combining over a dozen artists proved that his mashup chops are nothing to mess with. In fact, the entire night saw Alan and crew tackle everyone from Wheezer to Queen to Luke Combs, proving Alan’s voice is as versatile as any big star today.

If there were one criticism — only one — it’s that Alan spends a lot of time with his back turned to the audience, goofing off and singing to his band. Yet somehow, the crowd loved that too — the chemistry between the four on stage was palpable.

Cooper Alan has been performing live gigs since he was 15 years old. But now, thanks to TikTok, music is his full-time gig. (He told the crowd he quit waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse in June.) If the fervent crowd that would not let Alan leave the stage is any indication, it will be how he wins his bread for a long time to come.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.