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Header photo by Laura Harvey
On a pleasantly warm mid-January night, a Thursday, I dug my bike out of hibernation for the first time in 2018 and rode it one ballad’s length to one of my favorite venues, recordBar. There, for the 2nd time in 3 months, I was seeing Noah Gundersen with sister Abby Gundersen alongside in his first show in 5+ years in Kansas City. Fresh off a fall tour in support of his expansive and intense 3rd LP released in 2017 – of which he told me, “challenged (his) fans expectations and paradigms of what he does” in a delightful conversation we had leading up to the show, I would certainly say it was worth the wait for Gundersen’s tremendously loyal and faithful fanbase.
I was lucky enough to see Gundersen try out his rockstar persona in my first viewing of the artist back in November at the Barracuda in Austin, Texas. However, Thursday night, as Gundersen had foreshadowed, was a reward for those fans who had been with him for a long time and “comparatively, very, very chill”. Well, if you have been a fan since before Noah’s 2012 show at the recordBar in it’s original Westport location, or a newly minted one like me, shows on Gundersen’s “chiller tour” will still give you goosebumps.
“This a real old one I had to google my own lyrics, (pauses) god bless the internet”, Gundersen muttered before strumming down on his acoustic guitar in unison with his sister’s piercing strike of the violin. That familiar sound of “Nashville” received a smattering of cheers from the loyal sections of the fans in attendance, which only seemed to grow in size as the Gundersen’s harmonies captivated and converted more and more into followers of his work.
Eyes gazed upon Gundersen, sporting a black leather jacket and wide brimmed black hat that reminded me of the Undertaker, as he enjoyed some nice banter with the crowd between songs. “I like this city a lot, it’s been a while, like 5 years?”, Gundersen stated. “Why do you like it?”, asked one fan, “Ohhhhhh because you guys”, Gundersen said with a smirk before refuting a claim that he “says that to all the other cities”. “I can assure you I did not say that to Billings, Montana”.
As I walked around the venue to get a different viewpoint at times, my nose caught the scent of smoke, and no, not the kind you’re thinking. It was a campfire smoke smell that I could only imagine fans became cloaked in from a pre-game ritual singing along to Gundersen’s classic ballads such as “Bag of Glass”, “Jealous Love”, “Selfish Art”. These along with new but already fan favorites off ‘White Noise’, B-sides, and yes, even a cover of “By Your Side” by Sade made up the 16 song set that left the incredibly attentive crowd feeling both full and drained, surrounded but lonely, and most of all yearning for Gundersen’s next visit. “Sorry it took me so long to get here, I’ll be sooner next time”, luckily it doesn’t sound like it will be long.
If you are fortunate enough that Gundersen and Co. are performing in your city or one nearby, I strongly advise you attend. The tour continues through the United States all through the month of February before going overseas in March. Tour dates can be found here.
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