One of the best concerts I have attended this year is Courtney Barnett’s October 24th show at Cabaret Mile End in Montréal. Barnett’s lyrics are poetic but her stage presence is pure rock n’ roll. Her style has been described as indie-folk, indie-rock, alt-rock and honest slacker garage pop. Her songs are witty, poetic and lyrical with a deadpan, storytelling quality replete with personal and pop-culture references.
At Cabaret Mile End, Barnett and her band did their own sound check, literally setting the stage for an incredibly raw, intimate and connected performance. Barnett’s songs are written and performed in a rolling, cascading style and the listener is carried along waves of narration, energy and sound as each track unfolds. This cascading style is also evident in the band’s transition between poppy, up-tempo tracks and heavier, more serious ones. The band used a lot of distortion at this show, and Barnett played her electric guitar with a fearless intensity reminiscent of female rockers such as Courtney Love, Joan Jett and Janis Joplin.
Projected onto a screen at the back of the stage was animated black and white footage from her video “Anonymous Club,” a glimmering, slow-core song that demonstrates her versatility as an artist. Barnett is as capable of energetic, ironic, comedic and upbeat lyrics as she is slower, softer, emotionally intense songwriting.
Courtney Barnett is a 26-year-old Australian singer-songwriter who was born in Sydney, New South Wales and currently lives in Melbourne. Barnett’s double EP, A Sea of Split Peas, released internationally in May 2013, is a combination of two earlier EPs, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris, recorded in a friend’s lounge, and How to Carve a Carrot into a Rose, which included her hit songs “Avant Gardener” and “History Eraser.”
I am eagerly awaiting her next album, due to be released at the end of this year.
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