5/18/15 – The Sinclair

“You’re a rockstar!” screeched someone from the crowd. After a short pause, looking out with affection, Courtney gave a short “thanks” in reply. That was the sort of casual attitude, along with the self-awareness and wit, that characterizes Courtney’s music and carried perfectly into her live performance.

To bring you up to speed, Courtney Barnett has quickly been buzzing her way into a level of indie stardom, as her debut double EP, A Sea of Split Peas, teased some amazing songwriting and clever post-punk indie pop, and her recent 2015 follow-up debut LP, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, fulfilled those promises with one of my personal favorite records in the past couple years. With tickets selling secondhand for three and four times their face value on StubHub, the stage was set for quite a performance kicking off Courtney’s US tour here in Boston.

Courtney walked out to roaring applause and led in with one of her deeper cuts on her double EP, “Canned Tomatoes (Whole).” Holding the stage solo at the start of the song, her energy was quite subdued, quickly quieting the crowd. Mid-way through the song though her band came out to join her, blasting in with their bass and rhythm, exploding the energy on stage right into Courtney’s first guitar solo.

From here the set moved somewhat quickly from song to song, with the band not quite hitting the dynamic energy I was expecting. Everything changed with “Dead Fox,” a fantastic catchy jam from her most recent album. The band hit their stride, pulling the entire crowd into the music. They killed the song so well that one of Courtney’s amp became a casualty of the music. “All my things are breaking,” Courtney somewhat sarcastically lamented.

Despite losing some equipment, the rest of the set continued on without any real change in sound. Courtney’s band continuing jamming through the majority of Sometimes I Sit, adding a couple covers from The Breeders and a Courtney favorite cover of The Lemonheads “Being Around.”

Her live show proved how fantastic of a storyteller Courtney really is, as even though her vocal range didn’t quite match her recordings throughout most of the set, the songs’ energy wasn’t stunted by the unpolished performance. The energy of the music and raw quality of her band almost became an asset by the end, with her even intentionally mumbling through lyrics to her single “Pedestrian at Best.”

Courtney’s mellowed out punk rock set wrapped up with her encore of her standout single from her double EP, “History Eraser.” Courtney might be a little unpolished, but her witty songwriting has quite the kick in person, and you should consider picking up a ticket to catch her at the Newport Folk Festival in July before she begins her long trip back to Australia.

Casual Indie Punk: Courtney Barnett
Pros
  • Great Humor
  • Energy of the Songs
  • Comfortable Stage Presence
Cons
  • Vocal Range
  • Inconsistent
7.8Overall Score

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