One of the most flattering, yet undeniably intimidating venues for an artist to perform in is The Parish. The spectacular light set up, the open floor, the brilliant acoustics– it is intimate, it is personal, and no one on stage can fake it. I was anxious to hear Noah and the Whale and Bahamas perform; both artists play very open and unmasked lyrics– each strum, each chord, every word in every lyric would be amplified and treated by the atmosphere tenderly. Such things occurred, and both artists held their own and followed through with brilliant performances.
Bahama’s, the solo project of Afie Jurvanen, supported by his percussionist, Jason Tate, and two back-up, sultry singers took the stage with a real organic number. The angelic voices of back-up vocalists, Felicity Williams and Carly Akins resonated deeply and truly added value to Jurvanen’s performance. “Over Joy” and “Already Yours” showcased the artist’s soulful lyrics, warm, heavy voice, and a heartfelt rhythm.
Bahama’s didn’t only play slow, solemn folk-indie music, though; there was a “dancey two-steppy” track, called “Caught Me Thinking”, as well as a playful number, “Okay, Alright, I’m Alive” that featured fun plucking and a danceable rhythm. There was even tons of humor with the amusing track, “Hockey Teeth”, which was written in dedicated to an ex-girlfriend, “a very pretty girl”, he recalls.
During the middle of the set, Bahamas reminded me of the humid South by Southwest evenings, where I found myself scavenging the third-world-country-like streets, among the debauchery in search of gold, searching for real music I have managed to survive without. Bahamas felt like a diamond in the rough; Bahamas felt like gold.
The lights dimmed,and viscous purple lights illuminated the stage. A heartfelt piano introduction played and like true musicians, in black and white suits and in rapid step, Noah and the Whale took the stage, first performing “Give A Little Love” from their first album, Peaceful, the World Lays Me Down.
Noah and the Whale’s performance ranged in their discography, performing various tracks from their latest album, Last Night On Earth, their sophomore album, The First Days Of Spring, and their first album. Audience favorites were clearly, “Blue Skies”, the notorious “5 Years Time”, and “Life Is Life”.
Half way into the show, Noah and the Whale stated “We have now reached the romantic portion of our set”, performing “My Door Is Always Open” and “Wild Girl”. During “Wild Girl”, the lighting in The Parish was spectacular. The guitarist stood towards the back and poured his soul into his guitar; the shadow of his figure glowed black despite the stage being lit. There was a moment of realization that was both humbling and inspiring; there was a moment where to gaze too strong, to gaze too long felt as though some sort of intrusion.
Despite most of their discography being composed of rather solemn and sad tracks, Noah and the Whale managed to make every single track they performed into a very danceable, very cheery song. For example, “Jocosta” is about the tragic, epic tale of Oedipus, and the song sounds terribly dark– brilliant, but dark– on the album, but the energy was fantastic, vibrant, vivid and all their efforts resonated brilliantly through the wooden structure of The Parish.
Noah and the Whale closed with “First Day of Spring”, and encored with two tracks from their latest album, “Old Joy” and “Life Goes On”, closing out their second night in Austin with a bang.
(Noah and the Whale performed at The Parish in Austin, Texas on June 9, 2011)