March 20, 2012
After we broadcasted our love for Bahamas all over the web, we drove North to see if he really was as good as he seemed on the record. Wearing a cowboy hat and stiffly starched drain pipe pants, Afie Jurvanen came onstage with a guitarsenal of vintage guitars and two back-up singers as his instruments. Did his sound fill the room? Was he charismatic enough to hold everyone's attention throughout the set? Was he as natural as he sounded? Yes, yes and yes.
Jurvanen began Bahamas' first-ever headlining show in the US with "Lost in Light," a sweet crooner of a piece that began with his back up singers humming the intro, holding and caressing every note until Jurvanen could come in to whisk the audience away. If there was ever a way to be comfortable in a song--nay, in a set!--the same way you would feel comfortable in your couch, in pajamas, under a warm blanket, Bahamas' songs are it. They evoke not just soft fuzzy feelings, they make you feel like crawling inside them and cuddling for hours. And even though they're easy to listen to, they're not tiresome. There's thought behind the way the lyrics, the hooks and melodies come together. They're effortless, but definitely not simple.
Every once in a while Jurvanen would show us what he can really do on the guitar--a bluesy riff here, a rockabilly intro there. It's always a pleasure to see a great musician who knows when NOT to play onstage--that's a talent not everyone can afford. On songs such as "Overjoyed" and "Never Again," Bahamas showed a dynamism that didn't depend on showboating. All he needed to command the room was one instrument and two great back up singers. It was also interesting to see the room filled with an audience who knew so much of Bahamas' songs, considering his second album, Barchords, hadn't been out for very long and his debut wasn't huge in the U.S.
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Critic's bias: I love this man's albums so much I couldn't find anything bad to say about him if I tried.
The crowd: Older, and as un-hipster as possible for Silverlake.
Overheard in the crowd: "He's like the cowboy version of Jack Johnson."
Random notebook dump: Various Brushfire Records personnel were in attendance. I was waiting to see if Jack Johnson would come out.