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(Noah Kahan/Facebook)
(Noah Kahan/Facebook)

Noah Kahan Captivates Crowd of Young Listeners in Tempe

Noah Kahan’s relatable music, jokes about divorce and serious discussion of therapy brought together thousands of primarily young fans to his concert at Extra Innings Fest for an emotional and energetic performance.

People traveled from around the country to see Kahan perform, including concertgoers from Texas, New Mexico, California and Massachusetts.

“We haven’t seen him live. We’re going in Boston, at Fenway, but we want to do it before,” said Kate Leonard, 23, who traveled from Boston to see Kahan. “All of the content we’ve seen of him, he’s just like a normal guy, he’s not some famous guy who’s trying to act cool, or come off a certain way.”

Their travel emphasizes the popularity of Kahan, whose 2024 tour across the U.S. and Canada is already close to being completely sold out. His concert at the main stage of Extra Innings Festival connected with thousands of fans on Saturday, March 2, in Tempe, Arizona.

A large portion of his audience is young people, and TikTok has been a part of his surge to near household-name status.

He has 2.3 million followers on TikTok, more than his following on other social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.

Elizabeth Labelle, 24, who traveled from Boston with Leonard, shared her thoughts on Kahan’s come up.

“For a lot of people, ‘Stick Season’ blew up on TikTok, which led him to get, like, a cult following,” Labelle said. “But I feel like also, being from the East Coast, a lot of the music has references to that lifestyle.”

People were camped out by the main stage in Kahan merch hours before he played. The excitement to see him and some of his specific songs was palpable.

Christa Palacio, 21, described Kahan’s song “Dial Drunk” as catchy and said “It gets me turnt every time, and I can’t wait to get turnt with my girlies.”

Palacio is from the Phoenix area and came to see Kahan with two of her friends.

Other performers at the festival took note of Kahan’s performance. Sheryl Crow, who performed an hour before Kahan, said her sons talked to her about performing before him.

Crow said, before the festival, that her kids told her, “Mom, you’re gonna play in front of Noah Kahan tonight. Just don’t embarrass yourself, ok?” 

As the concert drew near, the crowd filled in to the edges of the main concert area, reminiscent of Chris Stapelton’s headline performance the previous night.

People were lined up on Mill Avenue Bridge crossing over Tempe Town Lake behind the stage in anticipation of Kahan.

The fans around the main stage were pressed in tight, a sea of multi-colored t-shirts and dusty bodies staring into the corners of the stage, hoping to catch a glance of Kahan.

Finally, the lights dipped to black, and the crowd roared with excitement as Kahan’s four bandmates walked on. They started playing, and Kahan walked out in a dark button down, a white undershirt and white pants. He opened with one of the hits on his vastly popular “Stick Season” album, “Northern Attitude.”

The crowd came to life, singing along with every word as Kahan sang “New Perspective,” “Everywhere, Everything,” “She Calls Me Back” and “Forever.” Throughout the concert, he took a few moments to talk to the audience, usually saying something silly.

After playing some of his more fast-paced songs, Kahan played “Your Needs, My Needs,” a slower-paced song with a hard-rock style twist toward the end. At the tone change, his face was illuminated red on stage and on the screens next to the stage, and the crowd screamed along with him.

As the crowd quieted down, Kahan took the mic again.

“This next song is about my experience in therapy,” Kahan said.

He talked about his parents putting him in therapy when he was eight years old, then continued, “But I lied to my therapist for, like, ten years in a row, because it was a lot easier than being honest, which meant admitting that I was flawed, and that’s what this next song is about. It’s called ‘Growing Sideways.’”

Kahan performed the song by himself, but he held the crowd’s full attention, even with just him and his guitar.

Part way through the song, he ran into the crowd and brought the energy up. Then, he came back on stage and sang “All My Love,” working in a couple quick jokes before the song.

Kahan said the song was dedicated to people with divorced parents, drawing laughs from the crowd. “I get two Christmases though!”

Kahan wrapped up with “False Confidence,” “Dial Drunk,” “Stick Season” and “Homesick.” The backdrop to “Homesick” included a dynamic map of the area Kahan is from in Vermont.

“It’s time to get sticky!” Kahan yelled before performing “Stick Season,” earning laughs and good-humored groans from the crowd.

The performance of “Stick Season” was the loudest the crowd was all night, and Kahan let the crowd sing the main chorus by itself.

After he took a bow with his band and walked off the stage, the crowd shifted around for a bit, hoping for an encore. When it became clear that he wasn’t coming back on stage, the fans quickly left the area, still with smiles on their faces.

“I think he’s really relatable to younger people, especially who have gone through mental health stuff, and I think his newest album, there really was not a bad song on it, it’s all very catchy, even if you don’t really relate to what he’s saying,” Lauren Schmidt, a 21-year-old from Phoenix, said.

It was clear why Kahan supporters traveled from around the U.S. to see his performance. The impact that he has made on people through his vulnerable, open style came through with each song screamed from the depths of each person’s chest and the similar quotes that multiple fans gave.

Luke Santavicca, 24, of Arizona is a newer fan of Kahan, but said the singer was the entire reason he decided to attend Extra Innings Festival.

“I think Noah Kahan does a great job, not masking anything. He does a great job saying his problems, the trauma he’s gone through, and puts it to music,” he said. “This younger generation, we tend to go through a lot of the same stuff. To have music we can relate to really helps a lot.”

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