Seeing Courtney Barnett Live—Absolutely Electric
Photo Source: Flickr
Do you ever come into something expecting a good time, then come out having a great time? That was my experience going to the Courtney Barnett concert featuring Waxahatche (spelling that will never get easier) this weekend at the House of Blues in Boston.
I have been a big fan of Courtney Barnett for awhile now. I have all of her albums digitally on my phone (including the collab album she did with Kurt Vile a year back), and she’s also one of the people I like to look up interviews of when I can’t sleep. She turns out an awesome range of indie rock jams (they’re one of those albums that you can listen all the way through without getting tired of it). Most notably, her newest album that came out this year, Tell Me How You Really Feel, follows up extremely well with the rest of her music. Now, I had seen her once before in concert last year, only it was with Kurt Vile at the Orpheum theater. I went with another friend of mine, and it was great, don’t get me wrong; however, my friend and I were in almost nosebleed seats, and the main act almost seemed a little nervous. Courtney barely talked between songs, and Kurt Vile announced about four songs with the preface that they were about “life” (this is still a running joke between my friends and I to this day). The music, though, was still great. Ironically enough, Jen Cloher, the opener and Courtney’s romantic partner, really owned the stage that time, keeping up a great amount of banter and following it up with some really great music. I ended up picking up Jen Cloher's solo album that year because of it.
This weekend was an awesomely different story. My friend and I got general admission floor tickets at the preorder period, and the concert sold out about a month or so in advance. We had gotten there relatively early for the opener, so we were already pretty close to the front. Neither of us moved out of those spots, allowing us to get in on a pretty good vantage point. I absolutely rejoiced in this, as I’m not that tall—I’m at least short enough in which I really have to bob and weave between heads to get a good look at a musician at a concert, and I do get very incensed when said people in front of me film a whole song on their phones and making it so I can’t see past their arms (please don’t do this—take photos every once in awhile or take a little clip, but please mind the small people behind you and don’t be that guy/gal). Waxahatche was a solid opener. I had not heard of her before. From what I could gather, her expertise is in more understated indie folk. She’d be the type of person I’d stumble upon when listening to an NPR Tiny Desk concert (upon looking her up on youtube, I was very right in assuming this, as it turns out she does have a Tiny Desk video). While it’s definitely not music I would listen to personally, she did a great job owning the stage before the main act.
Courtney Barnett’s set was absolutely electric. The stage was set up with not only the standard overhead colored lights but with spotlights pointing at the audience that changed color depending on the song playing (it did make getting good photos difficult, as my phone was not behaving well when I tried to focus it). While last year left me with the impression that Courtney was almost a little nervous on stage, those thoughts were dashed that night. While she didn’t really talk too much between sets (aside from introducing a song or the band mates) (like last time), this time, her presence and performance on stage was absolutely amazing. The set lasted around two and a half hours, and they covered material old and new. They even covered “Anonymous Club,” a track I would have never expected to hear live. Waxahatche came on again for a duet as well. There were times that I genuinely forgot that I had been standing for at least three hours.
Seeing Courtney Barnett in concert on her solo show was absolutely amazing. If you can somehow get a chance to see her at some point, definitely go for it—you won’t be disappointed. There are only a couple shows left on her American tour, but definitely be on the lookout if you’re also into some great Australian indie rock. If this is the first you’re hearing of Courtney Barnett, I recommend checking out her newest full length studio album Tell Me How You Really Feel and work your way back. You’ll definitely get hooked.
Rose Smith is the blog editor of Twenty-two Twenty-eight. When she isn’t writing about the world around her, she is often found listening to music, watching movies, and going on walks with her dogs.