Last Tuesday night, a bit of the tropics came to NYC as Bahamas—the recording name of Canadian musician Afie Jurvanen—played to a sold out crowd at Good Room (98 Meserole Ave). The Greenpoint show preceded a show at Forest Hills Stadium the next night opening for Jack Johnson, whose Brushfire Records released Jurvanen’s second and third albums, Barchords (2012) and Bahamas is Afie (2014).
Even if you don’t recognize the band or artist’s name, you’d likely recognize the music. Remember the James-Franco-falling-off-a-building-Droid commercial? That catchy, buoyant tune suspending Franco as he leisurely scrolled through his phone mid-fall? That’s Bahamas’ “All the Time,” which appears on the 2014 release Bahamas is Afie. From that same album, the most recent of Jurvanen’s releases, you may also recognize the tropical, Jack Johnson-esque “Waves” or the melodious lament “Can’t Take You With Me.” Popular tracks from Jurvanen’s previous two albums include “Whole Wide World” (Pink Strat) and “Lost in the Light” (Barchords), a line from which suddenly inspired a merch idea that Jurvanen then shared with the audience. (Future Bahamas concertgoers can keep an eye out for “before we were lovers, I swear we were friends” tees—possibly even in a long-sleeved version!—and boast knowledge of the design’s origin.)
As for the set list at the Good Room show, it was a mix of new songs and what Jurvanen, in his tongue-in-cheek humor, deemed the “greatest hits.” Known or unknown, the songs captured the packed room’s attention, fans singing along to what they knew, and won favor among that intimate audience, no doubt enhanced by Jurvanen’s endearing commentary.
Performing on a stage no more than a step above the main floor, the touring quintet, led by Jurvanen on guitar and vocals, seemed a part of the crowd, adding to the intimate feel of the evening. The ensemble was clearly, or at least gave the impression of being, well-rehearsed. Most remarkable to me was what seemed to be the natural fit of backing vocalist Felicity Williams with Jurvanen’s voice. Their harmonies were balanced, mirroring one another in pitch, volume and tone, yet each was unique, discernible and strong in its own right, the depths of Jurvanen’s vocals rooting Williams’ floating descants. And Williams had occasion to display her own vocal prowess, particularly in a sultry solo during “Lost in the Light.”
In keeping with his conversational exchange throughout the night, Jurvanen closed the show by saying “I joke around a lot, but music means a lot to me and it means a lot to me that you come.” His simple, sincere statement conveyed a significant sentiment—not unlike the experience and effect of his songs.