Noah Kahan ushers in the “Stick Season” at Higher Ground

The season of the sticks lurks in the shadows of each falling leaf. Luckily, someone wrote a New England guide of what to expect. 

Noah Kahan released his album “Stick Season” Oct. 14 and two weekends later performed four consecutive sold-out shows at Higher Ground in South Burlington with opener Adam Melchor. 

Since the album’s release date, the lyrics have lived in my mind rent-free. I know they are not moving out anytime soon, and I am okay with that. 

The songs’ verses rip your heart apart while simultaneously mending the pieces back together as Kahan explains his complicated relationship with New England and with the places and people he calls home. 

For example, “The View Between Villages,” the song that wraps up the album, evokes depictions of a vulnerable past while also contemplating the present, showing us wounds are normal and do not heal immediately. 

As UVM students, we understand the harsh transition from autumn to winter where the cold weather forces us to bundle up indoors and concentrate on our studies, often while reevaluating aspects of our identities.

The niche album captures the energy of New England and its seasons while evoking feelings of hope, despair, love and loss.  

The emotions enveloped within all of Kahan’s songs and his exponential popularity, particularly within Vermont, led tickets for the four Burlington shows to sell out in a flash.   

At the Oct. 29 concert, the line wrapped around the parking lot of Higher Ground as fans dressed in flannel eagerly waited to enter. 

“I’m going to play some songs about Vermont tonight, if that’s okay,” Kahan said after strolling onto the stage in a psychedelic button up and sunglasses. 

I felt the passion that pulsed throughout the crowd during each song. It was clear I was far from alone in my musical obsession.

Ashlee Jones, a 2021 graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, ventured to the concert alone, proving the dedication of Kahan’s fans.

“I love the new album so much and have listened to it nonstop,” Jones said.

“Everywhere, Everything” is Jones’ favorite song, she said. 

“I don’t know why,” Jones said. “I just feel it in my bones. And you’ll probably see me cry when he’s singing it.” 

Some, like Jones, drove hours to watch Kahan in concert, while others made the one-and-a-half-mile trip from the UVM campus.  

Sophomore Julia Chadderdon, who is originally from Vermont, attended the concert. When she explains the album and its unique locational features to out-of-staters, Chadderdon expresses that the lyrics describe life with incredible accuracy. 

However, you do not need to be from New England to resonate with Kahan’s heartfelt lyrics. Fellow concert-goer and sophomore Ayden Zuromski is from Raleigh, N.C., but finds songs such as “Growing Sideways” relatable. 

As students, feeling stuck is common. We try to ignore prominent problems instead of facing them.  

“Growing Sideways” delves into how we compare ourselves to everyone else growing around us while we idle on an empty engine. Pain is sometimes easier to neglect, but when it is not confronted it will prevent us from truly discovering ourselves.

“Oh, if my engine works perfect on ‘empty’ I guess I’ll drive,” Kahan sings in the song. 

While most of Kahan’s songs share a theme of location and longing, each piece is a separate work that exhibits a personal, geographically-bound experience. Still, the album resonates with many people from a vast array of backgrounds. 

When Kahan left the stage after the encore, the audience was still yearning for more. My feet ached from standing, but I would do it again in an instant. 

In “Homesick,” the lyrics state, “I’m mean because I grew up in New England.” However, the community at the concert makes me think otherwise.