The first time I heard Noah Kahan, he was featured on a mixtape my boyfriend made for me in the early days of our relationship. “Hold It Down” has always held a special place in my personal music history; although it isn’t a love song, the beautiful, honest lyrics always elicit the nostalgia associated with building my relationship. Now, after almost two years of following Noah Kahan’s music (and dating the same boyfriend), I was so excited to attend this show at The Hi-Fi in Indianapolis.
Noah’s discography hosts a collection of singles, and his five-song EP, Hurt Somebody, released in January 2018. Although they all vary in theme and tempo, every recording speaks to Noah’s authenticity as a songwriter. Listening to all of his music in the lead up to the concert, I was looking forward to how that would translate in a live setting.
Noah Kahan took the stage and immediately set the tone, calling, “Are you ready to hear some sad songs tonight?” He certainly did not disappoint on that front, but his set was so much more interesting than just a loop of sad songs. The raspiness of Noah’s voice does not come through in his recordings, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear it when he sang “Hallelujah” and covered “Jolene” by Ray LaMontagne.
The audience was invested, too, bouncing along to the driving acoustic guitar and sing-along chorus of “Fine” and “False Confidence”, which was recently featured on Spotify’s Pop Rising playlist. Noah’s band added so much to the performance, too – everyone was obviously having a great time. The bassist held it down while drinking a few Indianapolis-native Sun King beers, and the guitarist had an awesome solo jam at the end of the main set. Noah mentioned he would be the “Jewish Ed Sheeran” without his band, which was a hilarious and probably very true statement.
Noah’s storytelling ability was highlighted in both his singing and set transitions. He told his backstory as an artist in small-town Vermont, posting under a pseudonym on SoundCloud so people wouldn’t make fun of him at school. Noah recounted meeting his future manager in a public place with this parents, “just in case he was a pedophile.” He talked about getting high in New York with someone he barely knew, then writing about it just because he “needed a new single” (“Come Down”). I walked away more invested in Noah’s music, especially due to the dry humor he uses to talk about it.
Noah finished the show with “Young Blood”, singing about the early days as a struggling artist: “four years of driving across the country / For empty seats at their shows”. But, in a true testament to his music, the room was full of fans singing along with him. I felt lucky to be a part of this show, in a small bar venue in Indianapolis, at what I believe is only start of an amazing career for Noah Kahan.
by Katie Baird
Katie Baird is a lover of music that firmly believes transitions between songs on playlists matter, albums are made to be listened to in order, and songs that don’t mention the title in the lyrics are just *better.” Her music obsession began with classic rock records and has evolved to include all genres, with a soft spot for alt pop. While she could talk about music all day, this is her first time writing about it.