Thursday, February 20, 2014

Show review: Courtney Barnett at the Empty Bottle, 2/18/14

By Sarah Rosenfeld

Up and comer Aussie singer/songwriter and guitarist Courtney Barnett kicked off her short US tour Tuesday night with a sold out show at the Empty Bottle. Proving that she's worthy of the hype that has been building around her since the release of her double EP A Sea of Split Peas, Courtney Barnett brought her special brand of deadpan toned witticisms and breezy psych pop guitar riffs reminiscent of '60s era California to warm up a chilly Chicago evening. It was a late night, with Courtney playing after two openers including Chicago's own excessively talented post-punk psychedelic garage rockers Radar Eyes. Taking the stage around 11:45 p.m. and immediately launching into her song "David," Courtney strummed on her left-handed Fender sans pick, while nonchalantly singing "I don’t really like any of your friends, but it’s not that hard for me to pretend" as the crowd swayed along. The 40 minute set was solid and felt like plenty of material even though she only has the one double-EP.  

Courtney Barnett delivers pointed lyrics like "Do you know you’re no good at listening? But you’re really good at saying everything on your mind," with such a monotone ennui that you start to laugh a little and then say "...oh. Wait." Transitioning between her slower ambling songs and the more feedback heavy garage rock tunes was effortless for her and the band and the entire set was a pleasure to experience. There were a lot of people there singing along, especially with her most well known single "Avant Gardener" which brought an audible cheer from the crowd when she started strumming the first few hazy chords. Courtney and her band didn't bring too much stage banter although she did comment in her adorably heavy Australian accent "I can go home and tell my mum that someone threw a book onstage. That's a first." Looks like 2014 is going to be full of firsts for her including playing Coachella and various other summer festivals. If you missed this sold out show, Courtney Barnett is definitely worth catching if you can, so keep an eye on those festival announcements and be sure to get your tickets ahead of time for the next show. The buzz is legitimate with this one.

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