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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Puget Sounds: reviews of music in the Northwest

UntitledDecorative fall leaves and candles lined the windowsills of the living room, the windows framing a postcard-worthy view of Bellingham Bay.

It was just after 6 p.m. on September 27, and the house in Fairhaven was already humming. People stood in the yard and the kitchen, taking sips of wine and chatting in small groups.

It was clear that the show’s name, “Unique Bellingham Concert @ Orlowski Residence,” was more than fitting.

The night’s bill featured one act: Kris Orlowski, an indie folk/rock singer from Seattle, performing a solo acoustic set.

The show was capped at 40 attendees, guaranteeing an intimate music experience. Orlowski played new, old and upcoming songs that he had never performed.

Tickets went on sale on September 12 and in five days only seven tickets remained. The show went on to sell out less than five days later.

Orlowski announced after the first few songs that he has been in the studio working on another full-length album, which will likely be released in the next six months or so.

Until then, he said he would be releasing an EP covering a number of songs by George and Ira Gershwin on Friday October 2 titled, “The Gershwin Sessions — Volume 1.” [Listen to the first released track here]

Between blocks of songs he held open Q&A’s with the audience, allowing them to ask him anything. Questions ranged from who his influencers are to where he bought his denim shirt (the answer, comically, was Forever 21).

Orlowski got his start at Western playing the open mic at the Underground Coffeehouse. He mentioned he would like to return to play there soon, but doesn’t have a date nailed down yet.

At a typical show, a four-man band backs Orlowski, and this was my first time seeing him perform a solo set. Hearing the songs without the soaring high harmonies of his second vocalist and keyboardist, Torry Anderson, was a different experience.

Regardless, Orlowski quickly and easily filled the room with his stage presence. Every song was sung with the same amount of passion and drive he has with his band.

He devoted one of his songs, off of his latest album “Believer,” to his mom. “Fighting the War,” which includes many environmentally conscious statements such as “Will my children live to swim in lakes I loved? Or hike the peaks I’ve trudged?”

This had always been a favorite track of mine on “Believer,” but for some reason I hadn’t realized its message until he discussed the background of the song and how his mom influenced it. This made me love the song that much more.

To wrap up the show, he performed a duet with his father (whom he referred to solely as “papa”) to his album’s title track, “Believer.”

After the show, attendees had the opportunity to meet and talk with Orlowski as he sold CDs, vinyl and other merchandise. Overall, the concert experience was very welcoming and intimate, just as it had promised in its description.

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