SHOW RECAP + GALLERY: Noah Kahan brings Stick Season to life in New Hampshire
There are some artists who slip through the cracks of New Music Fridays or friend recommendations, and for a little too long Noah Kahan was one of them. It wasn’t until stick season was fully in swing last October that I decided to give his album of the same name a spin. From the first chorus of “Northern Attitude” I was hooked, and felt the need to apologize to every recommender that I hadn’t listened sooner.
Stick Season is deceivingly complex — a love letter to small town New England, a study in the guilt-swirled nostalgia of growing up, and a painful critique of the places and people that we can’t help but love. It’s as convoluted as feelings come, but at it’s core Kahan’s makes you feel like you’re not alone.
As a born-and-raised New Englander, Kahan’s earnest songwriting hits so close to home that he might as well be etching the words into my doorframe, and it seems I’m not alone in that sentiment either. Since the release of Stick Season just over a year ago, Kahan has experienced an almost impossibly monumental growth, earning himself numerous chart ranking singles, a spot on the Time100 2023 list, and quite possibly the largest festival crowd I’ve ever seen at Boston Calling.
Buzzkill has caught Kahan a few times since the start of his seemingly never-ending live schedule this year, but this was our first time seeing the singer-songwriter preform outside the summer festival circuit. Opening his set with the warm folk strings of Northern Attitude, Kahan and his supporting band immediately transported the crowd into the world of Stick Season. Musically the group sounded better than ever. Even given their rigorous touring schedule, not a single hit was missing, punctuating Kahan’s vocal performance
As soon as the group took the stage, the concert became more of a collaborative experience than anything else. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show where the entire crowd knew every word to every song, but Kahan’s fans absolutely did their homework for his New Hampshire homecoming.
The crowd was almost deafening at points during the set, most heavily during New Hampshire-centric “Paul Revere” (“Vail bought the mountains and nothin' was the same / Yes, the boys are drunk, the sun is high / Their license plates, ‘Live Free or Die’”), and Kahan’s mega-hit, “Homesick” (just imagine 9,000 New Englanders screaming “I’m mean because I grew up in New England”).
Infused with Kahan’s sometimes-comedic, sometimes-earnest personality, the set maintained a level of intimacy not often seen at this scale. “For a long time, I played to the sound of forks hitting plates of people who didn’t give a shit,” Kahan recounts, a recognition of how far he’s come. Gratitude seems to be the operative word for his entire set, spending ample time to thank those who have aided his journey, most notably one of his first music teachers, Tuck Stocking, who joined Kahan during “Homesick” alongside his current students. The pride New England holds for Kahan is palpable and invigorating, and it’s nothing short of wonderful to see it reflected directly back towards us — we’ll all be here forever, and it feels like Noah will be too.
YOU CAN FIND NOAH KAHAN AT: