When a friend says they have free tickets to a gig, you’re probably going to want to check your schedule before accepting. But when they say they have free tickets to Australian songstress Courtney Barnett’s secret invite-only debut album launch, you’re going to immediately drop any prior plans (unless they include James Franco and recreating page 98-103 of Fifty Shades of Grey). Admittedly I haven’t listened to a whole lot of Courtney Barnett, I recalled a late night watching Rage, a video with a melancholy clown and a song that mentioned Adelaide. I don’t however play into the hands of music elitism, especially when it comes to live music and accepted without delay. There’s a beauty to first hearing a musician live. No other media form to compare them to. No prior expectations: just a direct response to the artistry that’s being heard. It’s a rarity in our generation to accurately discover a musician or any artist in this manner but it’s something that everyone should experience at some point.
With only 100 or so of her nearest and dearest friends, family, fans and me; we all seemed to fit into the small warehouse space comfortably. With The 1000-Pound Bend’s high ceilings, visible pipes, chipped paint, exposed concrete and brick, the indie gig scene was set. Photographs of Courtney and band mates on tour and in the studio littered the thinly constructed interior walls (courtesy of Melbourne photographer Tajette O’ Halloran), alongside was her personal artwork pieces of hand drawn chairs and enigmatic poetry. To say that the entire evening was just a gig would be an enormous understatement. It was an exhibition not just of music or art, rather an entire ode to a modern generation of Australian creative culture.
Fraser A. Gorman and his band opened proceedings; another up and coming Australian Indie/Rock group fronted by a charismatic curly-haired 23 year-old, none other Fraser Gorman. With plans to release their debut album later in 2015, they took this opportunity to present several songs off the album, to an intimate and engaged audience. For a lean young guy Fraser Gorman knows how to project himself on stage, both vocally and physically. Guitar in hand, thrusting into every note, he presented himself with the composure and assurance of a much older performer. He commented on his nervousness and anxieties about performing in front of the crowd, but this merely seemed a testament to the band’s humble nature.
Even before the main set began, there was a lingering house-party atmosphere to the evening. When Courtney came on stage to set up and do her own sound check, her entire girl-next-door persona was immediately noticeable. It’s the subtle yet perfect combination of her passion and talent yet extreme modesty that separates her from many musicians making waves at the moment. As soon as she and band mates, Bones Sloan and Dave Mudie, took the stage you could just tell, they are the type of artists that don’t rely on any extraneous items when performing. Each song had been carefully written and detailed in production and studio stages so there was nothing more beautiful than watching the artistry at hand. They played their new album by track list, which meant that heavier slacker rock songs like ‘Pedestrian At Best’ were played slightly erratically throughout the set and juxtaposed with moodier lyrically dependent tracks. With every endearing on-stage comment, the familiar crowd cheered and supported, and when Courtney took a large swig of wine from a bottle, the entire room applauded. Her physical nature on stage seamlessly encapsulates her entire musical identity. Not throwing herself at the crowd, instead allowing the audience to be drawn to her infectious laid-back, cool aura.
Choosing my favourite aspect of the entire evening is much too difficult; it’s no wonder the rest of the world is falling in love with her narrative wit and relatable verse. Her band and her are amazingly creative talents, however the most entertaining and inspiring aspect of Barnett’s performance was watching her take charge and embrace her guitar through solos and guitar ‘heavy’ songs.
Courtney’s debut album ‘Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit’ will be released on March 23th for sale, following her SXSW shows next week. However, you are now able to stream the entire thing through iTunes Radio http://tinyurl.com/CourtneyBarnettFirstPlay
You can also catch Courtney Barnett (supported by Melbourne locals Teeth & Tongue) early May on her national tour, following the release of her album.
Friday 1 May 2015
Saturday 2 May 2015
Friday 8 May 2015
Saturday 9 May 2015
Friday 15 May
Tickets available through her website http://courtneybarnett.com.au/tour/