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Blueprints: The Making of Noah Kahan's Breakout Success

Wednesday, 07 February 2024 Written by Huw Baines

Photo: @aysiamarotta

A prominent seam running through 2024’s live landscape is Noah Kahan’s rapid, almost unprecedented rise to stadium-conquering prominence. Off the back of his breakout album ‘Stick Season’, the singer-songwriter has booked eye-wateringly huge shows across Europe and North America, including a brace of sold out nights at Boston’s Fenway Park, the baseball cathedral close to his adopted home base of Watertown, Massachusetts. 

His odyssey will shortly continue with a string of UK and Ireland arena shows, which kick off in Dublin on February 8 before taking him to Glasgow, Leeds, Cardiff and London, where he’ll play two nights at the OVO Arena Wembley. In the summer there are more, with a couple of engagements at the O2 for the sake of variety. Basically, it’s big show after big show after big show.

In the first edition of Blueprints, a new series that digs down into the constituent parts of intriguing musicians, we take a look at the make-up of Kahan’s success, from his early influences through to the importance of technology and an appreciation for the landscape of home.


Having spent part of his childhood across the state line in Hanover, New Hampshire, Kahan was chiefly raised in Strafford, Vermont, the small town that provided the backdrop to the soul-searching, introspection, jealousy and recrimination at the heart of ‘Stick Season’.  “Forgive my northern attitude,” he sings at one point. “Oh, I was raised out in the cold.” 

With too much to drink and too few friends still hanging around the place, Vermont’s sparse pre-snow landscape became both an outlet and a mirror, with bare trees and grey skies reflecting Kahan’s loneliness and isolation in a manner that is ideal for luxuriating in. The record’s massive success has also made him Vermonter-in-chief, with fans even making pilgrimages to the streets that crunched underfoot while he was writing its songs. 

Stomp Clap Hey

Let’s defer for a moment to Urban Dictionary, which describes Stomp Clap Hey as being “considered by some as possibly the worst genre in existence”. For obvious reasons, Kahan’s embrace of Mumford and Sons-esque anthemics is immediately polarising, but it’s interesting to note the manner in which he is able to skirt its more hackneyed elements thanks to some canny melodies, a wash of Bon Iver emoting, and a little bit of War on Drugs-esque dad rock in songs such as She Calls Me Back. 

By tying the record so closely to his own story lyrically he also dodges around anything feeling too much like a facsimile — achieving universality through mining personal details has worked for decades, and a lot of Kahan’s work is resonating. It’s really, really easy to dunk on this stuff, but people don’t seem to care. There is Nickelbackian power in that.


Recent tensions between UMG and TikTok might forever reshape the platform’s relationship with musicians, but Kahan wouldn’t be here without it. Having casually-if-self-consciously uploaded a fragment of Stick Season to his account during a writing session, he  found accidental virality and cultivated an audience that would be waiting for the whole thing when it landed. “I usually write a first verse and chorus, and then I step away for a few months and come back to it,” he recently told NPR. “So I had all these verses and choruses, and I put them on TikTok and crowdsourced the album in a lot of ways.”

Sleeper hits

Kahan is everywhere right now, but he’s not dropped in from the ether. Stick Season has been number one in the UK all year, but it was released in July 2022, as the lead single from a third album that deviated a little from the slick pop-folk style of its predecessors. His story is about sleeper hits — those unexpected success stories that build irresistible momentum just to one side of the spotlight. 

Streaming makes it easier for things like this to happen, and it was a smart move to release a deluxe version of ‘Stick Season’ headlined by big-name collaborations (a recent new take on Homesick with Sam Fender drew a neat parallel between the two artists’ career arcs). It was smarter still to make it feel like an extension of the original work’s world rather than a second CD that will never leave a jewel case. “I also knew that this was a record I wanted to tour for a long time,” Kahan told Paste. “Having a few more songs on the record and giving people more music to consume and get excited about helped lengthen that touring cycle and keep peoples’ interests in mind.”


Any discussions of Kahan’s live show tend to foreground the sense of community that exists between artist and audience. That’s the mother lode when it comes to this sort of songwriting — sad dudes writing songs in their bedrooms are one thing, sad dudes who transpose that catharsis into a group activity are something else entirely. 

“I’ve definitely gotten to a place of complete surrealism where I feel like I’m living in The Truman Show or something and everyone is playing a joke on me,” he recently told GQ. The challenge, of course, comes with keeping that sense of engagement alive in venues that are 10 times the size of the ones he was playing 18 months ago. Thus far, he seems to be doing just fine. The summer will tell us for certain.

Noah Kahan Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu February 08 2024 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Sat February 10 2024 - GLASGOW OVO Hydro
Sun February 11 2024 - LEEDS first direct Arena
Tue February 13 2024 - CARDIFF Cardiff International Arena
Wed February 14 2024 - LONDON OVO Arena Wembley
Thu February 15 2024 - LONDON OVO Arena Wembley

Sat February 17 2024 - PARIS Olympia (France)
Sun February 18 2024 - COLOGNE Palladium (Germany)
Wed February 21 2024 - BERLIN Columbiahalle (Germany)
Fri February 23 2024 - COPENHAGEN KB Hallen (Denmark)
Sun February 25 2024 - AMSTERDAM AFAS Live (Netherlands)
Mon February 26 2024 - BRUSSELS Forest National (Belgium)

Tue March 26 2024 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Rogers Arena (Canada)
Thu March 28 2024 - CALGARY Alberta - Scotiabank Saddledome (Canada)
Fri March 29 2024 - EDMONTON Alberta - Rogers Place (Canada)
Sat March 30 2024 - SASKATOON Saskatchewan - SaskTel Centre (Canada)
Tue April 02 2024 - WINNIPEG Manitoba - Canada Life Centre (Canada)
Sat April 06 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Sun April 07 2024 - LONDON ON - Budweiser Gardens (USA)
Tue April 09 2024 - OTTAWA Ontario - Canadian Tire Centre (Canada)
Wed April 10 2024 - QUEBEC CITY Quebec - Centre Videotron (Canada)
Sat April 13 2024 - MONTREAL Quebec - Centre Bell (Canada)
Sun April 14 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Tue April 16 2024 - TORONTO Ontario - Scotiabank Arena (Canada)
Sat April 20 2024 - NORTH CHARLESTON South Carolina - Riverfront Park (USA)
Fri May 03 2024 - ATLANTA Georgia - Central Park (USA)
Mon May 20 2024 - ASHEVILLE North Carolina - Harrah's Cherokee Center - Asheville (USA)
Wed May 22 2024 - ASHEVILLE North Carolina - Harrah's Cherokee Center Asheville (USA)
Fri May 24 2024 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Bridgestone Arena (USA)
Sat May 25 2024 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Bridgestone Arena (USA)
Tue May 28 2024 - CUYAHOGA FALLS Ohio - Blossom Music Center (USA)
Wed May 29 2024 - BURGETTSTOWN Pennsylvania - Pavilion At Star Lake (USA)
Sat June 01 2024 - LEXINGTON Kentucky - Infield at Red Mile (USA)
Tue June 04 2024 - MARYLAND HEIGHTS Missouri - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre St Louis (USA)
Wed June 05 2024 - BONNER SPRINGS Kansas - Azura Amphitheater (USA)
Fri June 07 2024 - SAINT PAUL Minnesota - Xcel Energy Center (USA)
Sat June 08 2024 - SAINT PAUL Minnesota - Xcel Energy Center (USA)
Tue June 11 2024 - DALLAS Texas - Dos Equis Pavilion at Fair Park - Complex (USA)
Thu June 13 2024 - THE WOODLANDS Texas - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (USA)
Fri June 14 2024 - AUSTIN Texas - Moody Center ATX (USA)
Sat June 15 2024 - AUSTIN Texas - Moody Center ATX (USA)
Tue June 18 2024 - CHULA VISTA California - North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre (USA)
Thu June 20 2024 - LOS ANGELES California - Hollywood Bowl (USA)
Fri June 21 2024 - LOS ANGELES California - Hollywood Bowl (USA)
Tue June 25 2024 - DENVER Colorado - Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre (USA)
Wed June 26 2024 - DENVER Colorado - Fiddlers Green Amphitheatre (USA)
Sat June 29 2024 - GEORGE Washington - Gorge Amphitheatre (USA)
Mon July 01 2024 - RIDGEFIELD Washington - RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheater (USA)
Wed July 03 2024 - WHEATLAND California - Toyota Amphitheatre (USA)
Fri July 05 2024 - BERKELEY California - Greek Theatre Berkeley (USA)
Sat July 06 2024 - BERKELEY California - Greek Theatre Berkeley (USA)
Tue July 09 2024 - SALT LAKE CITY Utah - USANA Amphitheatre (USA)
Sat July 13 2024 - ELKHORN Wisconsin - Alpine Valley Music Theatre (USA)
Mon July 15 2024 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Tue July 16 2024 - NEW YORK New York - Madison Square Garden (USA)
Thu July 18 2024 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Fenway Park (USA)
Fri July 19 2024 - BOSTON Massachusetts - Fenway Park (USA)

Fri August 02 2024 - MONTREAL Quebec - Parc Jean Drapeau (Canada)

Tue August 13 2024 - MANCHESTER Co-op Live
Wed August 14 2024 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Utilita Arena Newcastle (formerly Metro Radio Arena)
Tue August 20 2024 - BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena Birmingham (Formerly Birmingham Arena)
Wed August 21 2024 - LONDON O2 Arena
Thu August 22 2024 - LONDON O2 Arena

Sat August 24 2024 - AMSTERDAM Ziggo Dome (Netherlands)
Mon August 26 2024 - HAMBURG Stadtpark Open Air (Germany)
Tue August 27 2024 - BERLIN Zitadelle Spandau (Germany)

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