Nik Freitas – The Barbary, Philadelphia

bill ellisonIt’s not everyday you see a musician walk in the door of the venue for the first time and hop right up on stage to begin his set. Caught in summer weekend traffic on the evil stretch of Interstate 95 between Washington DC and Philadelphia, Nik Freitas had to do just that, arriving the very second he was to be on stage. “It [traffic] was worse than L.A.!” the California native later told me.

The late arrival didn’t seem to have an ill effect on Freitas’ performance, though. He opened a tight and fluid set with the title track off his fourth record, and debut for label Team Love, Sun Down. The slightly subdued tune showcased Freitas’ rich and handsome vocals atop minimalist instrumentation. He followed with the jaunty “All The Way Down,” a hugely dynamic and upbeat song bringing Freitas’ wonderful voice to the forefront.

The remainder of Freitas’ set distinguishes his great pop sensibilities through upbeat tunes instrumentally if not always lyrically upbeat. “Sophie” nods to Freitas’ Neil Young influence, to whom he later pays tribute by ending his set with a Young cover. He sings, “Sophie, you’re still bummin’ us all out / So goodbye / We hope you find some way to smile.” It’s a fairly depressing song but you can’t tell that from the upbeat nature of the Freitas’ energetic riffs and vibrant vocals.

Freitas rounded out an unfortunately short set with a Neil Young cover song, an [obvious] influence to Freitas’ own music. Despite his just-in-the-nick-of-time arrival, the crowd — whom Freitas says has been very receptive on this current tour — absolutely relished him. You can catch Freitas making his way to the West Coast with Taylor and Rice (dates below).

Set List:
01. Sun Down
02. All the Way Down
03. Sophie
04. It Ain’t Like That
05. Neil Young cover

Tour Dates:
Jun 24 – The Space / Hamden, Connecticut
Jun 26 – El Macambo Club / Toronto, Ontario
Jun 27 – Magic Stick / Detroit, Michigan
Jun 28 – Beat Kitchen / Chicago, Illinois
Jun 29 – Belmont Art & Music Fest / Chicago, Illinois
Jun 30 – 7th Street Entry / Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jul 01 – The Waiting Room / Omaha, Nebraska
Jul 02 – Hi Dive / Denver, Colorado
Jul 03 – Kilby Court / Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 04 – Neurolux / Boise, Idaho
Jul 05 – Doug Fir / Portland, Oregon
Jul 06 – Tractor Tavern / Seattle, Washington
Jul 09 – Bottom Of The Hill / San Francisco, California
Jul 10 – The Cellar Door / Visalia, California
Jul 11 – Echoplex / Los Angeles, California
Jul 12 – Gundlach-Bundschu Winery / Sanoma, California

Nik Freitas: website | myspace

*Photo credit: Bill Ellison

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