Courtney Barnett At 930 Was Like Hearing Stiff Records’ Greatest Hits Played By Nirvana

Courtney 2

We overheard someone in the audience next to us say that the last time Courtney Barnett played DC, it was at DC9, a venue considerably smaller than the 1000-and-change-sized 930 Club.  Given the roars of approval — as loud as we have heard them in 20+ years going to shows in this venue — and the quality of the performance, it seems almost inevitable that she’s going to make the leap to venues a quantum larger.

We love the Australian singer and guitarist’s debut album Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, as readers of Tulip Frenzy well know.  Sometimes we prefer her real introduction to the States, 2014’s The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas.  Mostly, though, the hesitancy we had before fully embracing the album was that we were unprepared for the transition, the way the sound had been torqued tighter, louder, with more pop urgency. It would be like riding in your favorite ’73 BMW 2002 and suddenly getting into its most recent 3 Series descendent: familiar, but scary in way, once you put your foot to the pedal and saw how it had been modernized for the Autobahn.

Last night, she played virtually the entire new album, plus a number of our favorite songs from the double EP, and we realized how they both connect, and why we think she’s the strongest talent to emerge since Ty Segall five years ago. For what we liked most about The Double EP: A Sea Of Split Peas was the way she updated the sound of a particular era of British pop music that coincided with the emergence of punk but preceded Power Pop — those early albums by Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads, Nick Lowe.  Last night, that particular proto-Power Pop song sensibility was apparent — though powered along with a thunder more like Nirvana than any other trio we can remember.

Courtney

Barnett is a great storyteller, but that may make her sound twee, and she’s anything but: she and her band kick harder than any Aussies we can think of since Radio Birdman.  From “Elevator Operator,” which opened the set, to “History Eraser,” which finished the encore, the Courtney Barnett 3 played like a band with twice the instruments.  There may come a time when they’ll need sidemen to fill the arenas she’ll headline.  Yeah, after a thoroughly entertaining show last night, the first of two sold-out shows at 930, we have no doubt that’s where she’s heading.

One Response to “Courtney Barnett At 930 Was Like Hearing Stiff Records’ Greatest Hits Played By Nirvana”

  1. […] of the year, at least in the commercially blinkered circles in which we so proudly travel.  Her sold out show at the 930 Club last May, fittingly on the same day as the DC Pride Parade, was in many ways D.C.’s […]

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