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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Former President and convicted felon Donald Trump menaces at the camera during his hearing.
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

Review | Noah Kahan’s ‘Stick Season’ tour is like therapy for the homesick college student

Noah+Kahan+performs+on+stage+during+his+Stick+Season+tour.
Trinity Foster | Senior Staff Writer
Noah Kahan performs on stage during his Stick Season tour.

I’m not a spontaneous person, but when I heard that indie folk artist Noah Kahan was performing in Columbus, Ohio, on September 12, I bought tickets and made the six-hour round trip despite having class the next morning. Was it worth it? As soon as he started his heavy-hitting opener, “Northern Attitude,” my answer was undoubtedly yes.

Nicknamed “Folk Malone” by his fans and announcing himself as “Jew-y Tomlinson” and “Jewish Capaldi” at his concerts, Noah Kahan is the quintessential Gen Z artist. Though Kahan’s been releasing music since 2017, he reached new levels of fame thanks to TikTok when a teaser of his song “Stick Season” went viral in Oct. 2020. He released his album “Stick Season” two years later in Oct. 2022, then the deluxe version, “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” this past June.

Last week, Kahan announced an extension to his hugely successful 2022-23 “Stick Season” tour that visited Pittsburgh’s Stage AE in June 2023, adding 32 dates for the 2024 “Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)” tour. He’ll be returning to the Pittsburgh area on May 29, 2024, to perform at The Pavilion at Star Lake.

There’s a lot to love about Noah Kahan — his stupid funny tweets, his approachability with fans, his humble attitude. He’s been known to take photos with fans on his own phone and perform outside of the stadium when shows get canceled. The reason I’m such a fan, and why I’d sacrifice hours of sleep to see him, is his music itself. 

I’ll admit — I never cry at concerts, but Noah Kahan was the exception. Especially because he announced that he’ll start singing one of his most emotional songs, “Call Your Mom,” at every single one of his shows. “Call Your Mom” is a tribute to those who struggle with mental illness, usually too difficult for Kahan to perform. With lines like “don’t let this darkness fool you/all lights turned off can be turned on” and “give yourself a reason,” the song is heartbreaking but hopeful.

Kahan’s concerts are intimate and emotional, humorous and joyful. He stands on stage accompanied by three instrumentalists and sings with his eyes closed, brow furrowed in concentration, to an audience that knows every word. His concerts have no costume changes or choreography, but Kahan’s audience is engrossed in his performance nonetheless, maybe because his voice sounds even better than the studio recordings — raw and passionate. 

Kahan and his audience often share jokes, like when someone at my concert passed up a shirt with Kahan’s face photoshopped onto a photo of Paul Revere, referencing Kahan’s song of the same name. Kahan’s connection with his fans is unrivaled – he made eye contact with a girl sobbing to an emotional song, gave her a smile and nod of understanding, and she cried harder.

At my concert, he shared that as a kid, he would search if his favorite artists were depressed like him. He wanted a feeling of connection, of being understood. Now, he wants to be that connection for someone else – to be vulnerable about his own struggles so others feel less alone. He conveys this in “Call Your Mom,” with lyrics like “Oh, dear, don’t be discouraged/I’ve been exactly where you are,” and when introducing “Growing Sideways,” explaining his long experience with depression and difficulty in therapy as a child.

Kahan opens his heart in all of his music, reopening wounds of failed relationships in “Stick Season” and illustrating the bittersweet experience of leaving home in “You’re Gonna Go Far.” The latter is one of my favorite songs by Kahan, especially after moving far from my family to attend Pitt. Kahan sings from the perspective of the one who stays, reassuring his loved one to “Say whatever you feel, be wherever you are/We ain’t angry at you love, you’re the greatest thing we’ve lost.” It’s hard — going to school, leaving your family behind, feeling guilty and free, nostalgic and excited. Kahan’s lyrics are like a warm hug, reminding me that while my parents miss me, they’re so proud that I left. His commentary is also touching, like when he sang “Who the hell likes living just to die?” and added “Not me!”

Don’t worry — Kahan has happier songs, too. An upbeat banjo compliments the bright message of “All My Love,” where Kahan assures the listener “It’s all okay/There ain’t a drop of bad blood, it’s all my love/You got all my love.” He’s also been known to throw in a joke after the line “My folks still talk but they speak in these/Two-word sentences,” shouting “My parents are divorced!” 

Introduced as a song about gross worms and decaying fingers, “Everywhere, Everything” is another upbeat number and profound proclamation of love in which Kahan swears “Everywhere, everything, wanna love you/Till we’re food for the worms to eat/Till our fingers decompose, keep my hands in yours.” In “Dial Drunk,” a song he recently remixed with Post Malone, he chastises himself for drunk-calling an ex over instrumentals that had the entire audience dancing. 

Another current favorite of mine, “She Calls Me Back,” is about a relationship in which one partner is much more dedicated than the other. Besides the restless beat, the song has beautiful lyricism, opening with “There was Heaven in your eyes/I was not baptized,” following a religious theme in many of Kahan’s songs. Kahan is able to portray his aching feelings with the lyrics “I’ll love you when the oceans dry/I’ll love you when the rivers freeze” and question how his partner could be so uncaring, asking “Does it bite at your edges?/Do you lie awake restless?”

Kahan closed his Columbus show with the folk rock number “Homesick,” and I finally exited the crowded pit to watch the entire audience pulse with energy. The show was near perfect — incredible music, meaningful lyrics, crying, dancing, laughter — Kahan knows what he’s doing. In 2024, he’ll be performing at iconic venues like Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park, and I’m so excited to continue watching him grow.

About the Contributor
Trinity Foster, Senior Staff Writer