While the majority of Columbia students were out in the sun dancing to Big Gigantic last Saturday afternoon, Anthony Da Costa, CC ’13, was preparing for a very different kind of show: his own album release at Joe’s Pub near Astor Place, the first of several stops on his summer tour.
Da Costa, an ancient studies major by day and folk musician by night, spent the night enchanting the intimate venue with songs from his just-released album “Secret Handshake.” Though he has been performing for the public since age 13, the show represented a special achievement for Da Costa.
“Joe’s Pub is sort of a dream venue. I’ve opened a show there and been part of tribute shows and reviews, but this was my first time headlining and probably my biggest show yet in the city,” Da Costa said. “I was really happy that all my friends and everybody came out to support me. It was a really great night.”
Da Costa commanded the stage with confidence, filling the room with melodies both up-tempo and low-key and grinning at the audience, occasionally regaling his listeners with a story or snippet of background on his songs. This honesty brought out some laughter from the audience, especially when Da Costa introduced a song titled “Learning to Say No.”
“This is a song about being really terrible at being hard to get, which I am,” said Da Costa with a shy smile. “They say ‘Don’t call her for three days, don’t call her for three days.’ It’s just so stupid.”
He bantered and interacted so casually with the crowd that one would easily forget that performing isn’t his full-time job.
Planning a summer tour while simultaneously managing a Columbia course load makes for a busy schedule. Yet, Da Costa remains involved on campus—on Sunday, he emceed and played at Sunday’s Postcrypt Folk Festival the day after his Joe’s Pub show.
The upcoming summer promises to only get busier for Da Costa, with his tour taking him all up and down both U.S. coasts and to Canada and Denmark. For much of the tour, he will be promoting his solo work “Secret Handshake,” but Da Costa will also be performing with his trio—Elliott, Rose, Da Costa—and accompanying other folk artists.
“The best part about this is that I’ll be surrounded by people who I really love and respect musically, and it always helps when you’re with your musical family,” Da Costa said. “One of the best things about folk music is that it’s an intimate style that you don’t get with a lot of genres or venues, which makes it a good way to meet interesting people.”
After graduating from Columbia next year, he plans on performing and touring full-time. “It’ll mostly be my solo work, but it’s so much fun to be in other people’s bands and work with other people.”
Catch one of Da Costa’s shows or buy “Secret Handshake” while he’s still on the rise—it’ll give you that satisfying hipster cred to say that you knew him before he was famous. His new album is available on iTunes, anthonydacosta.com, and Bandcamp.