As fans started to line up at 10am the morning of the show, Phoenix was more than ready for Noah Kahan’s “Stick Season Tour” to make its way through town. Selling out the Arizona Financial Theatre, Kahan made his 21st stop on his summer blockbuster. The Vermont native has been releasing music since 2017, but nothing quite like his album Stick Season, released in October of 2022.
Per an interview with Billboard, Noah Kahan notes he spent his pandemic in his hometown unable to avoid his previous struggles in Strafford, VT. Working through the past, this album features lyrics with sincerity and a full swing into folk music. His risk and vulnerability was well received, debuting at 14 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums of 2022 with the title track jumping to top 5, respectively.
The 110 dry heat in Phoenix did not seem to have an effect at all on the crowd, you could almost feel the Theatre shake. The night kicked off with Joy Oladokun, who recently played at Lollapalooza, delivering a vulnerable set explaining life’s struggles through music. A perfect compliment to Noah Kahan’s set, Joy sets the energy and the idea that you can be and express exactly who you are. Joy plays with a full band, featuring both a Jimmy eat world cover of “The Middle,” and an Elton John cover of “Rocket Man,” offering a bit of everything for the listeners.
The lights go black, the band enters. The music to one of the most streamed songs on the Stick Season album begins. You can feel the anticipation in the air as Kahan runs out into the spotlight with his Mandolin jumping right into “All my Love.” There was ample time to celebrate the wait being over while Noah let the crowd know he needed a quick second to tie his shoe.
The next two songs were from the featured album as well “Everywhere, Everything” following in second, and then “She Calls Me Back.’ He then switches up the set ever so slightly and performs “False Confidence,” the first track from the 2019 album Busyhead. For quite some time, “False Confidence” was Noah Kahan’s number one song on Spotify, and still sits at number three in his all time streamed songs behind “Stick Season” and “Hurt Somebody.” In the middle of the set, Noah takes a second to tell a story about being a child in therapy. Struggling to explain how he felt, he notes he often told the therapist things that were not true.
Explained in the following song “Growing Sideways,” Noah took the time to tell the crowd that everyone should be in therapy, even happy people, and even yes, the people who could afford the suites in the theatre. Noah Kahan offers a great bit of vulnerability in his set, but he pairs his deep cutting lyrics with upbeat pop/folk beats. There’s energy, excitement, and dancing the whole night. Noah plays with a full band, including his iconic banjo player.
There’s something for everyone to engage with Noah Kahan whether you’re a fan of folk music, singer songwriters, and just enjoy the concert going experience in general. Kahan has been in the spotlight for quite some time but deserves every bit of love this Stick Season Tour is receiving. There are 17 shows left on the tour, including the west coast, then back to the east coast and eventually to the midwest to finish up.
Words and photos by Jake Leffel