The Alternative Adult: Bahamas

Oct. 6, 2021 at Gateway City Arts, Holyoke

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Astghik Dion / Daily Collegian

By Astghik Dion, Arts Editor

The crisp, fall air accompanied the mellow fairy lights strung across the ceiling of Gateway City Arts to envelope Holyoke’s concertgoers in a cozy and pleasant atmosphere on Wednesday night. College students and millennials alike floated in and out of the open venue throughout the two hour and a half show, most gravitating towards either the bar or the stage. The sea of jean jackets and arms holding cups of beer fell into a gentle lull at precisely 8 p.m. when Sam Weber and his band opened the show. 

Astghik Dion/ Daily Collegian

The group walked up meekly, entering a stage piled with a multitude of amps stacked on top of one another like building blocks, a glittery golden drum cover and tens of eager faces turned their way. After sharing comforting smiles between one another they launched into a captivating indie-folk set that had the crowd swaying from start to finish. Mostly playing songs from his 2019 album, “Everything Comes True,” the love and respect the Canadian singer-songwriter and his band had for one another was evident, as the entire show was filled with kind laughs and subtle soothing gestures between the members. They closed their set with “Blackout,” the ninth track from “Everything Comes True.” With a warm goodbye and genuine gratitude the band walked off, and began preparing the stage for Bahamas

Astghik Dion/ Daily Collegian

At 9 p.m., there was a change in atmosphere. The seemingly crowded and colorful stage was stripped down and isolated from the four-strong group that once preoccupied it. Afie Jurvanen waltzed on with nothing but a guitar in tow. Dressed in all black and without his usual band next to him, Bahamas presented a stark contrast between his set and that of Weber’s. Opening with his 2012 hit, “Lost in the Light,” the 40-year-old musician seemed more like an old friend rather than an artist that the audience had paid to see. Cracking jokes and interacting with the crowd between each song, Jurvanen made sure that the third date of his “Still Sad Tour” would be memorable, and enjoyable for all those in attendance. 

Towards the beginning of his set, Jurvanen laughed about the fact that he’s constantly referred to as an “alternative adult musician” as music publications and listeners alike seem to be puzzled on what genre to pin him.

“I just end up in this corner with the castaways, the island of misfit toys,” Jurvanen said. “I’m happy here, I don’t consider myself much of an alternative adult – I shop at Costco and everything.” 

The bulk of the show was encapsulated in his 2020 album, “Sad Hunk,” as he never had the opportunity to perform it when it was initially released. The tape was received positively by the audience, with songs such as “Half Your Love,” being sung straight back to the artist by the audience.

“I’m always trying to write a better love song, always trying to impress my wife with a better love song,” Jurvanen said about the track. “I thought I did pretty good with this one.”

Per the name of the tour, “Still Sad” as well as his most recent record, “Sad Hunk,” it is no question as to what tribulations have been haunting the songwriter. Most of Jurvanen’s music is swaddled in upbeat chords and seemingly happy instrumentals, yet the lyrics tell a different story. The artist speaks about depression, and how it can permeate every aspect and relationship in your life. 

“Using music to turn your bad feelings into good music,” Jurvanen said to the crowd. “I use music to cheer myself up, you can change how you feel, you don’t have to wait for permission. The way I change how I feel is through music.” 

Jurvanen then launched into “No Depression,” the 10th track of his 2018 album, “Earthtones.” Midway through the song a smile spread across his face as he scanned the crowd, “see, I’m feeling good now, just humming a little tune.” 

The audience was fully engaged for the entirety of the nearly one hour and 20 minute set, whether that be through clapping to the song in place of the missing percussion, or jesting with Jurvanen from the crowd.

Astghik Dion/ Daily Collegian

What could easily have felt like a very lonely, and cold show – with only one man and one guitar on stage – turned into an experience reminiscent of a very large family gathering. All singing, laughing and drinking together. Bahamas ended his show with “All the Time,” a hypnotizing love – or anti/love depending on how you receive it – ballad to growing apart and growing up.

Astghik Dion can be reached at [email protected]