"I had to wear a full track suit tonight because it's a special occasion."
Soul Brother Stef was happy to crack jokes in between taps of his Maschine as he pieced together a jazzy, soulful set at Orpheum on Friday night. Stef did what a good opener does, he hyped you up for the main act — Afie Jurvanen, also known as Bahamas, the Canadian artist touring behind his new album Earthtones, which came out in January.
“This is crazy and fantastic. Your city seems like it is a great place to do business and buy cigars,” Jurvaven said as he gushed about his love for Tampa. About 450 fans were happy to receive that love and dance as Jurvanen — who came off like a low-key, superbly talented friend or family member — continued the charm offensive.
“I know you guys are excited for the royal wedding tomorrow,” he joked at one point before sarcastically bringing it down with other quips like, "Most of these songs are very slow and sad. It's like we’re at a different show or something. But anyway here's a song about depression."
Ironically, it was all smiles inside of the building. Jurvanen is a soul bearer and it shows in everything he does from song lyrics about his "dead beat dad" leaving his mom to raise him and his siblings alone (“Bad Boys Need Love Too”) to the ones questioning his people-pleasing obsession (“Everything to Everyone”). He effortlessly epitomizes chill, but Jurvaven can also lop a layer of intensity on to slow-burners when he needs to. His longtime, close-knight backing band — including guitarist Christine Bougie and singer Felicity Williams — adds complexity and an etherealness to an already enthralling, baritone vocal. All of it was delivered with an air of humility, too, with Jurvanen even eliminating the weird charade that is known as the encore.
"I don't know if you've been to a show where the artist goes and stands in the curtains and waits for cheers, and you cheer until they come back out even though you both know they're going to play more," he explained. "Yeah, we're not going to do that — that just wastes everyone's time."
Hopefully Bahamas doesn't waste any time before it returns to our neck of the woods, but it seems like Jurvaven fell under Ybor's charm as well.
“We need to come here more often Tampa," he said. "I really feel like a cool cucumber. Thank you for showing us so much love.”