Adam Melchor and Noah Kahan Evoke Feelings of Love and Nostalgia

Arts reporter Lainey Gregory reviews Adam Melchor and Noah Kahan’s recent performance at the Riviera Theater.


Lainey Gregory

Noah Kahan (pictured) performs with Adam Melchor at Riviera Theater

By Lainey Gregory, Arts Reporter

They arrived in style, cruising through the streets of Chicago in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Noah Kahan popped his head out of the hot dog-shaped vehicle and waved at the crowd of waiting fans. Once the crowd processed the initial shock of witnessing singers Kahan and Adam Melchor arrive in a rolling sausage, we made our way towards the retro-style flashing lights of the Riviera.

On November 3, Adam Melchor opened for Noah Kahan at the historic Riviera Theater as part of Kahan’s sold-out Stick Season Tour. The Riviera’s retro exterior is indicative of the theater’s storied past as a host for some of the world’s most notable musicians, such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Bob Dylan. The performance hall was ornamented with golden crown moldings which contrasted starkly with a purple and green light display. Audience members kept a close eye on the empty stage littered with instruments, impatiently awaiting the night’s first act.

The hall roared to life when Melchor emerged from behind the curtain and made his way to the front of the stage. He was decked out in a bright, lime green jacket, brown plaid pants, and leather loafers. I was anticipating that the singer would open with a song from his newly-released album Here Goes Nothing!. I was pleasantly surprised when he opted to start the show with a soulful acoustic rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Melchor continued his set with “Cry,” switching from his usual acoustic guitar to an electric guitar to ramp up the performance. The lyrics of “Cry” detail the challenges of being vulnerable in front of those we love most and successfully plunged the audience into their feelings. Melchor ended his set with his popular single “Real Estate,” an airy melody which imparts a feeling of nostalgia and longing to the listener. My new friend Steve the security guard raved over the opener, remarking that Melchor’s vocals gave him the “chilly willies.”

After taking a brief tour around the Riviera between acts, I was alerted by deafening screams from the audience that it was time to rejoin the crowd. Noah Kahan strode on stage rocking braided pigtails—something that few can pull off past childhood—and denim overalls. He warmly introduced his bandmates as bassist Alex Bachari, guitarist Noah Levine, pianist Dylan Jones, and drummer Marcos Valles. Right away Kahan’s charm was apparent as he joked with his fans, sheepishly asking if they would mind if he played a few songs from his new album. Released just a few weeks before, the indie/folk inspired album Stick Season had since exploded in popularity, debuting at number six on Spotify’s Weekly Top Albums Chart. Kahan noted that he was largely inspired by “the season on the sticks” and recalled how his hometown’s barren November trees mirrored his feelings of isolation living in a small town. Exploring themes of loss, nostalgia, and growth, the album’s lyrics capture the joy and melancholy of returning home after spending time away. Kahan reminisced over the time he once opened at the Riviera, noting that he was then quite nervous. He noted that this time around he felt at home and was excited to share “All My Love” with Chicago fans.

The band made their way through Stick Season, throwing in a couple old favorites including “Animal” and “Young Blood” along the way for longtime fans. Kahan weaved anecdotes into the show to share the inspirations for his newest songs. He told the story that motivated his hit “Growing Sideways,” confiding in fans that he’d always felt that he was “bad at therapy” and “growing in the wrong direction.” Much to the surprise of the audience, Melchor joined Kahan on stage for a wistful duet of “Halloween.” Hearing the passion behind the lyrics sung in “the death of my dog” and “the stretch of my skin,” I found it hard not to feel sentimental about being away from my own home and family. The set climaxed with the album’s namesake hit “Stick Season.” It felt as if each moment that night had led up to this song, as every person in the room belted out its relatable lyrics detailing post-breakup longing. Kahan thanked the crowd for their unrelenting support and reminded us all that the “season of the sticks” had only just begun.