Noah Gundersen at The Back Room @ Colectivo: A Review
Noah Gundersen played at the Back Room @ Colectivo on Oct. 13. This performance marked a few firsts for me. It was my first time seeing him and my first time at Colectivo’s little concert space at the Prospect location (You can still smell the coffee back there; praise be. I’ve been watching a lot of The Handmaid’s Tale.). Upon reflection, I realized this was my also my first time witnessing an artist in transition, more specifically, Gundersen just released White Noise. For those only familiar with his older stuff–it ain’t Ledges.
And that’s not a bad thing. I have to address this musical shift, and also the fact that he dresses like a high-fashion biker now. I mean, hey, he did write a pretty kickass song for Son’s of Anarchy, and I dabble in the black leather life regularly, although all of my tattoos are currently below the neck. If anything, this change has resonated with me on a personal level. We’re similar ages, and I understand the need to show the world you can be many things at once and change while still remaining authentic. The themes of sensory inundation in the digital space and general lost-ness also feel current.
I was curious how Gundersen would play this off on stage though; slightly fearsome of an awkward transition between earnest, stripped back, gloomy folk tracks and more experimental stuff on White Noise, or even straight alt-rock bangers such as “The Sound.” I have to say, it was a seamless balance of songs from his array of earlier folk records with the new, and I enjoyed the weird instrumental shifts, violin, and the mishmash of electric and acoustic. He seemed really comfortable and secure in his new…persona sounds contrived…self, maybe, or at least the self he’s willing to show on stage.
The show was a great experience for me, a perfect venue for his sound and aesthetic, and he’s someone you want to hear live for vocal abilities alone. (Plants are a common theme in his new album art, and the place literally had plants hanging from the ceiling. I live for moments like that.) Highlights for me were hearing old favs like Cigarettes and First Defeat, and generally experiencing the electric guitar, synth-heavy tracks completely unheard of in the pre-White Noise area. In my mind, this latest release is still a transition album, showing the breadth of what he can create in a non-clunky, “there’s more coming” sort of way.
The guy is a straight genre-bender, and it makes sense that he once said in an interview he’d like to release a doom metal record or even something R&B. Please, have at it.