Chairs were sparse on Thursday, Mar. 31, when Noah Gundersen and his sister, Abby played some of their folky tunes at Whitworth University, despite the fact that it was a weeknight. It was the second time playing here for the Centralia, Wash. natives, though it’s been a couple years since the last time, and judging by the standing room only Multi-Purpose Room, they’ve got some fans here.
After just a month since their band, The Courage, broke up, Noah Gundersen is starting again as a solo artist. He is accompanied by his sister, Abby, who sings harmony and plays the violin, both of which she does beautifully. The two have been playing together since he was 16 and she was 13, and they started out playing in coffee shops.
On Thursday, they played quite a few new songs, and it’s always cool to hear the direction they are taking. The new tunes were all pretty chill, which is reminiscent of his older songs, as opposed to the more recent songs from the album “Fearful Bones,” which was put out in September by The Courage.
Noah Gundersen says that he wasn’t 100 percent pleased with the way that album turned out.
“It was different than what I’ve done in the past, and there are things I didn’t really like about it personally,” Noah Gundersen said. “I think some people saw that. Some people liked it and some people didn’t.”
The break-up of The Courage wasn’t a bitter end though.
“It was for the best,” Noah Gundersen said. “It kind of became something that wasn’t sustainable, and it feels like we’re back on the right track doing what we’re doing now. I love all those guys and we had a lot of really good times together. It ended well.”
Noah Gundersen is the main song and lyric writer, and Abby Gundersen contributes instrumentally.
“I think that was part of the reason why The Courage ended up breaking up as a band, is because I was trying to write democratically as a band, while finding that that wasn’t really working. But I had to try it to learn it,” Noah Gundersen said.
Noah Gundersen and his sister are now back on the right track. Thursday’s show was a perfect example of this, as anyone in the audience could see how wonderfully the two compliment each other.
Abby Gundersen’s harmonies are always on point, to the extent that it’s almost scary. Maybe they have some sort of sibling connection. The combination of the violin with the acoustic guitar creates a beautiful sound, and it creates a more unique listening experience than just your typical singer/songwriter. Noah Gundersen sings with a captivating passion, and it’s easy to see how much his songs mean to him. The audience was silent through each song, hanging on every note. Near the end of the set, he even commented on how attentive everyone had been.
An hour before show time, the two still didn’t have a set list. This turned out to be great for the audience, as they took some requests, and ended up playing four out of six songs on 2009’s “Saints & Liars.” The first few notes of Caroline resulted in some cheers and claps. It seems the audience wanted to hear the older stuff, though Noah Gundersen doesn’t always prefer it that way.
“I’ve been playing some older songs recently, and it’s been fun to revisit some of the older tunes,” Noah Gundersen said. “I kind of have a hard time playing older songs, so usually whatever’s the most current material, I enjoy the most.”
There is an advantage to hearing new songs at a concert though. It allows fans to hear the new tunes before a lot of other people will get to experience them. The Gundersens will be recording an EP at the end of April, and a full-length album later on in the year, and hope to have them both released to the public within the year.
The two will be playing a bunch of house shows this summer, as Noah Gundersen works to reestablish himself as a solo artist. They also plan to spend time writing for the two albums they plan to record.
“I definitely am someone with long term goals, but also I just try to be in a constant state of improvement,” Noah Gundersen said. “Ultimately, the end goal is to be able to do this full-time in a sustainable way.”