“Let’s shed our shame and our guilt and our pain and return to ourselves for a little while. Let’s all be here forever.”
Folk-pop singer Noah Kahan recently released Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever), the extended version of his 3rd studio album Stick Season with this poignant blurb. On that same day, he brought his New England charm and spirit to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland.
At Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 9, the beginning of his set reflected the artist that he is, straightforward and without any frills. Instead of a drawn-out introduction sequence or a countdown of any sorts, he walks on stage and begins his first song, “All My Love”, when the lights turn on.
The crowd, the largest he’s ever performed for according to Kahan, immediately began to sing along. Between rows, friends and lovers basked in his melody and lyricism as they sway to the beat and die-hard fans screamed the words at the top of their lungs.
Following “All My Love”, Kahan performed two more hits from Stick Season, “Everywhere, Everything” and “She Calls Me Back” before taking a break to connect with the audience.
During this water break, Noah Kahan’s casual, friendly demeanor shined through as he chatted with the audience and joked that he looks like he’s been through three divorces despite only being 26. At the end of his break, he exclaims “I’ve been called the Folk Malone, Jewish Capaldi, but tonight, for you, I’m Jewish Ed Sheeran, let’s turn the f- up.”
With that energy, he performed “New Perspective,” a song about his experience feeling left behind by those who have left his hometown in Vermont, and dragging them down by his decision to stay. Even with the melancholic narrative of the song, the crowd stayed on their feet, jumping to the rhythm of the song.
Watch a lyric video for “New Perspective” by Noah Kahan on YouTube:
This continued to be the theme of the night. Many of Kahan’s songs deal with difficult topics surrounding mental health, grief, and heartbreak, yet, the cathartic nature of his music moved and engaged with his listeners in a way that energized them to scream alongside him, releasing their emotions with each word he sings.
Noah continued his show by performing some numbers from his extended album, including “No Complaints” and “Your Needs, My Needs,” and other hits from his discography like “Growing Sideways” and “Maine.”
After these numbers, Noah played one of his most highly anticipated songs, “Dial Drunk” from his extended album. Prior to the release on June 9, Kahan had put the chorus of “Dial Drunk” on TikTok and other social media platforms. Already popular from his single “Stick Season,” this new release quickly skyrockets in popularity, accumulating over 30,000 videos made to the chorus in days.
Watch a lyric video for “Dial Drunk” by Noah Kahan on YouTube:
The crowd buzzed with excitement and sang along to every word of the newly released chorus. Kahan, thrilled by the reception of his new song, even repeated the chorus a third time to give the audience an extra chance to enjoy this moment with fellow fans.
After this performance, he took another pause to connect with the audience. He once again expressed his awe at the size of the crowd, mentioning that not long ago he was playing for crowds of 15 people, instead of 15,000. His eyes glimmered with gratitude and disbelief, as he begins to introduce his next songs. “Carlo’s Song” was a staple that Kahan performs at every single one of his shows. Written about one of his best friends who had an untimely passing, Noah has spoken extensively about the significance of this song to him, and how performing it has been his way of keeping his buddy’s memories alive.
As the song progressed, the audience began to pull out their cell phones, with their flashlights facing the stage, filling the stadium with a warm glow honoring Carlo’s memory.
Kahan wrapped up his set with three more popular songs: “You’re Gonna Go Far” is another new release popularized by social media, and coined as an anthem for “long distance children,” referring to young transplants who moved far away from their parents in pursuit of bigger dreams. “Orange Juice,” an aching description of trauma and the way it bonds and separates people affected by it, and finally “Homesick,” his ode to New England and his small-town upbringing.
After Noah exited the stage, the enthused audience chanted his name in hopes of an encore. Based on the fact that he had not performed his No. 1 hit, “Stick Season,” an encore seemed likely.
And the audience was correct. Noah Kahan quickly hopped back on stage, and began his first of three encore numbers, “The View Between Villages.” In line with the album’s overarching theme of teetering between hometown loyalty and the desire to be bigger than your childhood memories, the song described a drive into the familiar small town that was once yours, and reverting into the angsty child fighting to leave.
Then the moment arrives, the guitar intro of “Stick Season” was played and the crowd went wild. Singing along to every word, the unity within the audience was a reminder of the beauty of live shows, and the ability music has to connect people from all walks of life.
Finally, Kahan announced that he has one final number for the night, “Mess” from his second studio album, Busyhead. His fans began to slowly exit the venue knowing that for the last few hours, they were all here for forever.
Here are some photos of Noah Kahan performing at Merriweather Post Pavilion on June 9, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Graeme Jackson.