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Merrill Beach Plays an Intimate Set

By Jordan Meiland

Hayden Nork performing in the Purchase TV studio. Photo by Jordan Meiland.

Students braved the rain Tuesday night to watch Merrill Beach, a “sedimentary rock” solo project, perform at the Purchase TV studio.

Hayden Nork, a junior art history major and sole member of Merrill Beach, welcomed the crowd as it trickled into the studio a little after 9. At first, the crowd stood a few yards from him, leaving a fair amount of space vacant. But after Nork encouraged them to come closer, they moved up until there was barely two feet between him and the crowd.

With the room now packed in tight, he began his set. As he started playing, the room quieted until his voice and guitar were the only sounds. This proved beneficial, as it ensured his soft, almost ambient, music wouldn’t be drowned out by any other noise.

“I wrote little songs here and there as a kid, but I didn’t really start doing it consistently until I was around 12 or 13,” Nork explained in an interview after the show. “My brother coaxed me into making an album of my own. I definitely owe a lot to him, as he really encouraged me to improvise, which is primarily how most of my songs are fleshed out.”

His third song, “Move Out,” was definitely a highlight of the set. The song was dedicated to his brothers: Liam and Evan. Throughout it, he strummed his guitar quite consistently, providing a musical foundation the entire duration.

But it was his vocals that truly shined during this song. The first few verses of the song, he sang in a quieter, lower voice. But during the later parts, he began singing higher and higher notes until he was easily singing at least an octave above what he was at earlier. Singing in a higher range also made his vocal delivery itself sound quite different, which was an interesting effect.

Hayden Nork. Photo by Jordan Meiland.

“I took vocal lessons for a bunch of years, but never did anything too intense” he explained. “Just a lot of singing alone.”

As he played on, the crowd watched and nodded along to the music. Some began taking videos of him on their phones. Others sat down on the floor and took off their jackets to keep cool.

Between songs, the crowd, which consisted of many of his friends, interacted with him a lot. There was a substantial amount of applause and cheers for him, including one moment when someone shouted: “Thank you, Hayden, for the vibes!” This brought a smile to his face and prompted some to laugh.

“It didn’t really feel strange at all,” he said, about performing for his friends. “Honestly, the more intimate the show, the better. I was going to call the legendary Famiglia Pizza in White Plains as a set interlude of sorts, but I forgot to do that! Ugh! Would have been legendary to order a pizza in front of everyone.”

Interestingly, he also received two gifts during the set. At one point, someone pushed through the crowd, made their way to him, and gave him a violet-flavored breath mint. The giving of the mint was followed by a brief discussion of what exactly “violet-flavored” means.

Ben Lipkin (right) placing the film slate on the stool next to Hayden Nork (left). Photo by Jordan Meiland.

Later in the set, Ben Lipkin, one of the student workers at PTV, made their way through the crowd to give Nork another gift: a film slate with “Merrill Beach” written on it. The crowd cheered as Lipkin bestowed the slate upon Nork, who held it up proudly before placing it on the stool next to him.

Upon finishing his “last” song, Nork thanked everyone for coming out and stepped back to start packing up his gear. Instantly, someone began chanting “encore! Encore!” The rest of the crowd joined in immediately. Much to their delight, he obliged. He stepped back behind the mic, tossed his hat on the floor, and sang one more song.

He went all out during the song, namely when he held a high note for well over 10 seconds and began pacing around. Interestingly, there was seemingly no volume difference between when he was singing into the microphone and when he was singing towards the ceiling as he paced around. A true display of his vocal capabilities.

At the end of his set, he thanked PTV for having him and the crowd for coming out. After a round of applause, he turned and began packing up as members of the crowd started approaching him to congratulate him on an amazing show.

Merrill Beach is hoping to play more shows and make new music in the future.



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