You wouldn’t have guessed it from glancing at a setlist that included both some of his oldest songs and some that have yet to be released, but Nik Freitas never quite seemed to get comfortable during a short solo set opening for the Submarines at the Brighton Music Hall last week.
The California singer and songwriter barely touched on his excellent 2008 album Sun Down during his 35-minute set, instead dipping deeper into his back catalog for more understated selections like “Was Here” and “Normal” when he wasn’t playing new songs from his upcoming album, Saturday Night Underwater. Freitas stuck largely to acoustic guitar, pacing around in the shadows of the stage, peering off a bit mysteriously into the crowd filtering into the room.
The most familiar moments of the set – “Big Black Nothing,” a song Freitas contributed to Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band, and “Sun Down,” which was a highlight of that group’s earliest live sets – were slowed down but nonetheless irresistibly charming. After spending the last couple years playing alongside Oberst and backing James Mercer and Danger Mouse in the Broken Bells live band, Freitas also showed signs that his solo career is poised to pick up right where Sun Down left off. “Little Man” was perhaps his strongest performance of the night, and both the title track and “Middle” – a song that also appeared on the Center of the World EP last year – positively shimmered. Saturday Night Underwater is due in stores on June 7.
Nik Freitas’s Setlist:
Was Here / Big Black Nothing / Little Man / Normal / Saturday Night Underwater / Sun Down / Middle / Under a Goodbye
Yellowbirds opened the show: