Anchorage-based project Medium Build hits the stage in Soldotna on Wednesday night as the premiere main act of this summer’s free Levitt AMP Concert series.
The event will also mark frontman Nick Carpenter’s first large performance on the central peninsula.
The band occasionally references and romanticizes life in Southcentral Alaska. In “Be Your Boy,” Carpenter asks a woman if she’ll love him if he moves back to the Valley — a nod, he said, to the Matanuska-Susitna area. In the song “Rabbit,” he comes to a relatively daunting realization at Flattop, one of the Glen Alps’ most visited peaks in Anchorage.
But Carpenter is actually a long way from home. The singer-songwriter is from Atlanta originally.
He moved to Anchorage for the first time in 2009 when he was 18 years old, following his older brother who took a fishing job in Alaska.
“Being from Georgia, I barely made it through the winter,” Carpenter said. “I think I made it to March; I didn’t know it was going to get way better.”
The pair lived in a hostel downtown, and walked to and from Moose’s Tooth to bus tables for work until they were able to get a car that winter. He left Alaska after about seven months, and headed back down south.
Five years of studying songwriting at a college in Nashville and finding his own sound later, Carpenter moved back to Anchorage permanently in 2016.
“Now my whole family’s here, which usually feeds into the myth that the Carpenters are from here,” he said. “But truly we are not.”
The frontman started singing and playing instruments in his church band and chorus, he said, and then dabbled in everything from Nashville-style pop country to indie. After moving back to Anchorage, he wasn’t sure how his music would be received.
“I didn’t really fit in in Anchorage,” Carpenter said. “All the kids were either like hardcore punk or folk bluegrass, so I showed up and started playing bummer indie. I guess my songs are just like folk songs, but I play with one electric guitar, so then people (were) kind of weirded out.”
But after finding a sound that worked — with inspiration from Radiohead, the Beatles, Kacey Musgraves, Billy Joel and others — his career really started to take hold, he said.
“It definitely didn’t work in Nashville but then here I was like, ‘Well no one’s going to like this,’” Carpenter said. “But then people did. They kept asking me to play again.”
He and his group performed as Medium Build for the first time in December 2016, a band name that actually started as an inside joke between Carpenter and a former girlfriend — who was a little offended after she asked how Carpenter would describe her and he first thought of her physical build.
Now Medium Build has played all over, from Alyeska’s Slush Cup Spring Carnival to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.
Carpenter will follow Nelson Kempf and Keeley Boyle at Soldotna Creek Park on Wednesday night. The free concerts will run 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Wednesday through Aug. 31.
A new Medium Build single is set to drop June 8, Carpenter’s first on a label, which can be found across listening platforms. Follow the band for more music and upcoming shows on Instagram and Spotify.
Reach reporter Camille Botello at firstname.lastname@example.org.