Three weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to the first night of Noah Kahan’s Stick Season tour here in Nashville. I saw Kahan perform at Lollapalooza in Chicago over the summer after being a fan for years, and I was so excited when he announced fall dates in Nashville.
After arriving at Ascend Amphitheater, my friends and I took a look at the merchandise before finding our seats. I skipped out on merch but I regret it – the t-shirts my friends purchased are perfect for the fall and build a sense of community amongst his fans.
Nashville based artist Samia opened up the show with her powerful voice and relatable lyrics. She kicked off her set with “Pool,” a song off her debut album “The Baby.” During her set, she performed songs from the past three years, showcasing different parts of her career. As this was a hometown show for Samia, and the majority of her band, she shared that it was surreal for her to be playing at Ascend – a venue she has attended many concerts at.
Samia showed off her dance moves as she bopped around the stage to songs like “Fit N Full”, “Charm You”, “Big Wheel”, and “Stellate.” Her short, catchy songs caught my attention – my favorite song of the set “Triptych.” played next. After a quick google search, I learned that a triptych is a work of art that is divided into three sections or foldable panels, viewable as individual pieces or as a whole. I love when artists use artistic references in music to further add to the lyrical and musical experience. Samia continued her performance with “Kill Her Freak Out” and “Is There Something in the Movies?” before ending the set by asking the crowd to sing along to the title track of her most recent album Honey. After seeing her perform, I can confidently say that Samia is definitely an artist to watch with her quirky song titles and lyrical storytelling.
After a short wait, Noah Kahan took the stage in his pigtails and coveralls. He started his set with fan favorite “Northern Attitude,” a song I wish I could relate to as someone from the Mid-Atlantic. Kahan teased “She Calls Me Back” with backing vocals from Kacey Musgraves a day prior. Fans at the show were sad that she did not come to sing when it played next as Kahan is notorious for his guest performances and collaborations. As he continued on to play “New Perspective,” he had the entire crowd singing along.
Over the past year, since the huge success of both his song and album Stick Season, Kahan has received many nicknames: Jewish Capaldi, Scary Styles, and Jewish Ed Sheeran to name a few. However, the most popular is Folk Malone, which is what he told the crowd to call him at the October 3rd show. Soon after, Kahan played one of my favorite songs “All My Love.” In it, he sings about a person he used to be close with that he still deeply cares about, something many of us can relate to.
The majority of the setlist was from Kahan’s most recent album Stick Season, as he and his band performed “Everywhere, Everything”, ”Your Needs, My Needs”, “Growing Sideways”, and “Paul Revere.” These songs address some more serious topics from his life like the medication Zoloft, being depressed, and lying in therapy. His candid and poetic way of sharing dark experiences speaks to people from different backgrounds. But Kahan chose to keep a song on the setlist for his OG fans that were listeners prior to the success of his last album: “False Confidence”. This is the song that made me a Noah Kahan fan after a popular dancer posted choreography to it back in 2019.
Kahan used to call Nashville home – he moved here right after graduating from high school at the age of eighteen – and he told the crowd that he never imagined playing at Ascend Amphitheater. Music City still seems to have a place in his heart, and Kahan expressed excitement for a writing session that he was doing the next day, making me wonder if we should expect new music from him soon. Playing “Call Your Mom” later on seemed to be a special moment in the city where he told the crowd he learned to be alone. Thousands of people held their flashlights up during the song, even those that were watching from rooftops nearby.
Notable during the concert was the camaraderie that Kahan seems to have with his band. They dance around to songs and give specific members the opportunity to show off their talents. After introducing his bandmates during “You’re Gonna Go Far”, Kahan played the emotional “Orange Juice” where tears were shed by many. He finished up the official set with “Dial Drunk,” his most recent original release.
For his encore, Kahan came out after a quick outfit change to play the extended version of “The View Between Villages” from the deluxe version of the album. Finally he performed “Stick Season” as the crowd loudly sang along to its poignant lyrics, and closed out the show with “Homesick.” Once again, Kahan put on an amazing, intimate show for the first night in Nashville. I am counting down the days until I can see him again.
Listen to Stick Season here: