By Chloe DeLuca, Blog Editor
Co-headliners Justin Nozuka and Good Old War disconnected from their amps on the Open Chord stage to sing acoustic songs amongst a crowd of fans on Saturday, Feb. 17. Together with River Matthews, these bands are just days into their U.S. and international tour that kicked off in Philadelphia, Good Old War’s hometown. For the first leg of the tour, both Nozuka and Matthews released new albums this Friday, Feb. 16.
River Matthews opened the Knoxville show with special songs inspired by personal muses; “Stars” was written for his niece, Imogen, and another for an old flame, “Catherine,” a track off his first EP, “Feels Like Morning.”
Drinking hot water and honey between songs, Matthews worked up his vocal chords for a throaty, soulful rendition of “House of the Rising Sun.” He also brought “Sunshine” to K-town, a warm tune that invigorated audiences on the relentlessly rainy night. Matthews’ new album “Imogen” featured The Animals’ cover and original songs, like “Bye Bye Bird” and “Fool for You.”
Singer-songwriter Justin Nozuka also released latest EP “Low Tide” on Friday, following the September 2017 release of “High Tide.” The new album includes tracks “Warm Under the Light,” “Reverie” and “Laury.” Nozuka unveiled the new “Laury” track to the Open Chord crowd after beginning the show with songs “Down in a Cold Dark Well” and “Be Back Soon” from his 2007 debut album, “Holly.” The Ontario, Canada-based singer soothed the crowd with his distinct voice as the band played along, including impressive multitasker John Foster on drums and tambourine.
“You guys look really beautiful, the whole arrangement,” Nozuka said to the audience.
Grooving jams off “High Tide” such as “All I Need” and “No Place in Mind” were next on the song list. Interactions with the audience soon led to a conversation of shouts detailing how far fans had come to see Nozuka perform live. Some traveled from Nashville, Savannah and Ft. Lauderdale to hear the band.
Then “Right By You,” “Swan in the Water,” new song “Laury” and fan-favorite “After Tonight” were performed before Nozuka jumped offstage to play even more intimately in a sea of sitting show-goers. As the crowd gathered at his feet and surrounded Nozuka, attendees sang “Save Him” together as he strummed the acoustic guitar. The moment was extremely unifying and unique, as musicians rarely play unplugged in a swarm of admirers.
Good Old War conducted a similar behavior as the night progressed. At first, the band played many songs on stage, including one dedicated to the ladies, “Amazing Eyes,” then hopped off to be part of the audience rounding out the intimate night.