Stu Larsen opens his set asking, “How can anyone hear anything when everything’s the same?” Natsuki Kurai plays an intricate harmonica tune, an undertone of blues and soul fused with folk. Right from the start, the duo has a kind of energy that melts together in collaboration and a shtick that is not only humorous, but also enchanting to the crowd. Their relationship is one of a chance encounter; a meeting of souls that reminds you to appreciate the unpredictable pleasantries life can throw your way. Larsen and Kurai are storytellers, weaving vivid imagery through song. Larsen preaches an open and wandering perspective in telling nomadic tales that elaborate on individual, personal experiences of his own. Kurai does well to accompany him in this journey. Their performance makes you feel as though you are traveling and wandering with them, as if you had packed your bags spontaneously only seconds earlier and left on a whim. Larsen sings, “I don’t want to follow with the rest.” Their presence is one of humbling honesty, an exploratory and experimental manifesto to those who choose to wander rather than follow.
Half way into their set, the crowd joins in to sing, “I need your love, won’t you give it to me?” Larsen unplugs his guitar near the end of the song and echoes a quieter tune. The crowd continues to belt. The duo transitions into collaboration with opening act, Matt Sanders, playing a song that recollects Larsen’s days living in the countryside of Australia. Kurai plays a makeshift wind chime constructed out of keys dangling off a stainless steel potato masher. He incorporates the sound of chimes throughout the song, painting a visceral imagery of the mind. Larsen, Kurai, and Sanders break into a three-part harmony towards the song’s ending. Chimes continue to dance and echo through the venue. On their final song of the evening, Kurai mimics the sound of a freight train plummeting through the landscape with his harmonica at a swift speed. He breathes in and out, as if running to catch up. Larsen accompanies him singing the words, “This train is going to take me home.” The duo creates a blues influenced ballad, a steam engine puffing, moving on just out of sight. As the show finishes, Larsen and Kurai express their appreciation towards those who came to listen. The crowd erupts in applause, pleading that they return to play one more.
Article: Lindsay Skedgell