Always expect the unexpected from Noah Gundersen

 By Delaney Clifford 

October 27, 2017

Wednesday evening marked Noah Gundersen’s return to the renowned Visulite Theater. No matter how many times those in attendance had seen Gundersen before, everyone was in for an especially surprising set from the Washington native and his band. After setting out on his own to pursue music at the age of 18, Gundersen has earned a reputation for himself as an artist that can take on a multitude of genres, ranging between folk, rock, and country, while somehow always staying ahead of the curve. Over ten years, he has flourished as a solo artist while working alongside bands as a contributing artist and a producer. Under his solo moniker, he has released three EPs and three full-length records, each providing a fresh insight into the life of the young talent.

After releasing his latest record White Noise this year, Gundersen completely overhauled his previous sound, opening up endless possibilities as to what his live set would bring. From the very beginning of the night, it was clear that nobody in the bustling venue knew what to expect when they walked through the doors.

Noah Gunderson photo by Samantha Presta

Serving as an opening act was Erik Walters of Silver Torches, a fellow solo artist who performed with a similar feel to Gundersen’s earlier records. Walters bared his soul on stage and wielded a powerful voice and even stronger lyrics. It’s safe to say that two years ago, Walters may have been even too similar an act to open for a Gundersen tour but now it was the perfect bluff. After Walters lured the audience into a false sense of security, the anticipation flourished and soon the headliner took the stage. Immediately, the mood of the room shifted. Blue lights draped the red velvet curtains that lined the walls, and a projector sprung to life as it cast imagery over the ornate stage. The air was practically sucked right out of the venue and suddenly it no longer felt like a down-home folk band show. Instead, it felt like a larger-than-life group was about to play an unforgettable set.

Those who have seen Gundersen’s past performances will recall them as relatively tranquil, with the leader of the band seated on stage for most of the show surrounded by his band mates, playing through the songs of childhood, heartache, and a nostalgic yearning for better times. It would seem that the release of his new record has marked a major turning point, not only in his music, but in his live presence. The band played through the entirety of White Noise and, with each song, the theatrics only grew bolder. Gundersen’s live set has clearly shifted into an experience that directly showcases the pain of his music, featuring a harsh, dramatic light show as well as the frontman himself taking on a new persona to match the amplified tenacity that his new music portrays. As they played through the record, the audience never removed their focus from the stage, wondering what new surprises were still in store.

Noah Gundersen photo by Samantha Presta

Still, no matter how much has changed about Gundersen’s performance and musical identity, a familiar and friendly aura emanated from him and the rest of the band. Despite a darker sound marked with pain and woe, Gundersen remained nonchalant and charming throughout the set, continually checking in with the crowd and telling stories about the tour, almost as if the audience had a special look into the band’s practice space. This feeling was set in stone during the band’s final encore song, “Bad Desire” a song that closes out with a powerful, anthem-like crescendo. Right before the climax of the song, the moment everyone had been waiting for, Gundersen stopped the band. They began to trade beers back and forth as the crowd laughed with them, treating the moment with a contagious intimacy. A silence fell over the room before Gundersen belted right back into the song with a burst of energy, closing out the set with an explosion of applause and cheering that filled the halls of the Visulite with an inexplicable warmth.

Noah Gunderson photo by Samantha Presta

If Noah Gundersen has taught the music world one thing over the span of his career, whether it be through his ever-changing sound or his newly invigorated live performance, it’s that he will always keep everyone on their toes, just waiting to see what else he has up his sleeve.

Check out the remaining Noah Gunderson 2017 tour dates.

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