Oct. 19th 2014
No time for chitter-chatter, rock and roll waits for no man. Or woman, as was the case late Friday night when Australian indie sensation, Courtney Barnett, took the stage at The Visulite in Charlotte’s Elizabeth area. Who needs cheapened small talk when Barnett’s lyrically-dense songs are their own bountiful banter? Delving straight into ‘David’ and ‘Lance Jr’, songs from her first full length, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, The Courtney Barnetts toe the line of subtly mastering their performance of melding the power of a rock show with the knowing, friendly undertones of having coffee in a backyard garden with some pals.
Without stops, the band plays three songs giving Courtney a break only when guitarist Dan Luscombe dives headfirst into a bluesy chaos of clattering riffs and ardent, wailing tremolos in the middle of Canned Tomatoes (Whole). When this monument of sound has built itself to the brink, the drastic symphony crashes among the audience and the young singer wistfully offers to friends new and old, “You’re good ‘cause you’re never boring, you should probl’y call me more.”
Halfway through the set, The Courtney Barnetts have visibly shaken off any nervous pleasantries and are ready to have some fun. Out of the Woodwork, a hit from A Sea of Split Peas, provides a change of pace pairing the nonchalant intelligence of Courtney’s lyrical execution with the dreamy, hypnotic vibration of the band’s deliberate, languid sound. Sass smirks its way through the singer’s body as she stands on her tip-toes to deliver some of her more wickedly catchy, clever lyrics exemplified on the song. Honest and witty self-deprecation croon out of the impassive singer when she drawls out, “Look over my shoulder when I talk to you/Who’s the more important person in the room?”
Setting the lights a bit dimmer, the stunning strings of Anonymous Club start up and the music becomes an intimate invitation to put away your phone, drink a little and hangout in the moment with the people you love. The crowd softens and no one dares to speak when the song fades out into a solitary repetition of Courtney sweetly promising that she had “a really great evening, just you and me.”
Taking a moment to thank everyone for attending, to introduce her band (Dave Mudie on drums, Bones Sloane on bass, aforementioned Dan Luscombe on guitar) and to clear up a few Aussie-to-American phrases that the crowd playfully throws at her, she wails into the beginning of Are You Looking After Yourself?. All four members of The Courtney Barnetts punch out the frustrated, self-mocking narrative in the song. Clearly drawing reference from each of their own experiences of trying to become a successful musician while having to explain to your dear old mom and dad that your TV hasn’t worked in four years and that you should maybe look into getting a day job.
Bouncing against the audience’s affable, familiar and above all else, fun-loving energy, Courtney sweeps into two garage-y, punk-inspired songs before ending the set with her two biggest hits off A Sea Of Split Peas, ‘Avant Gardener’ (a song about the dangers of gardening) and ‘History Eraser’. During these two popular crowd-pleasers, Barnett has moved her left-handed guitar to rest lazily on her hip. It’s endearing to see the singer, so high-spirited and confident with her instrument and her bandmates, easily strum her two biggest hits to a room of strangers in a country she’s never even been to before.
The remarkably charming 25 year old bangs out the anthemic, bluesy 7 chord ending of History Eraser and leaves the stage with a gracious bow to the audience, declaring how humbled and appreciative she was for the chance to play amongst such receptive and admiring people. The audience, however, was unwilling to let their new mate go so they whooped and clapped until Courtney alone bashfully returned to the stage, fumbling for an encore song to do the night justice. Luckily for the audience, she chose to knock out an unreleased new song from an upcoming album that indeed tied up any loose end the night may have had. There’s an unspoken, intimate understanding when a show is so great that both performer and crowd can leave a venue with smiles decorating their faces, turn to one another and say, “I had a really great evening, just you and me.”
Listen to The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas by Courtney Barnett