It’s probably fair to say that Courtney Barnett was the hottest ticket in town this week, and she duly delivered when I saw her at the Bowery on Tuesday.
Opener Darren Hanlon performed a sometimes humorous and often sweet folk set, his bio says he lived in Oxford for a year in 2005 and I have a nagging feeling I’ve seen him play before. Songs like I Wish That I Was Beautiful For You snuggled alongside tunes about public transport woes.
Seattle’s Chastity Belt followed shortly after and played a fairly relaxed set that got everyone swaying. It came across a little more politely than what I was expecting, which I think was mostly down to drummer Gretchen Grimm’s delicate style, that ended up as a plus point as the band warmed up.
These shows had been sold out for some time and there seemed to be excitement and curiosity building in equal amounts among the crowd. I’ve been enjoying her record, Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit, but the songs come into their own when performed live. While the band may have somewhat of a slacker demeanor to them, the trio are a tight unit and play with more power than their recorded counterparts. Drummer Dave Mudie and bassist Bones Sloane offer backing vocals and are an integral part of the show, though most eyes in the house are on Barnett, this is a power trio in action.
The audience are more than appreciative but perhaps a little quiet, which seems to take the band by surprise at times, but mention it’s better than hearing people talking in the audience (I concur!). Whether performing rockers like Elevator Operator or the singer/songwriter Depreston, there’s a certain magnetism in the air.
Courtney plays the first song of the encore solo, performing a cover of one of my favourite Lemonheads songs, Being Around. In fact Courtney’s music is probably fairly described as somewhere between that song and the other cover of the night, The Breeders’ Cannonball.
If anyone was there simply to see what the fuss was about, they surely left converted. After 3 sold out nights at the Bowery, Courtney is making the step up (in terms of capacity anyway) to Terminal 5 with a show in July, which also features Speedy Ortiz and Torres. Tickets are on sale now.