Courtney Barnett. She's kind of a big deal.
Words by Anthony Nocera
Photos by Sharmonie Cockayne
There were three types of people at Courtney Barnett: diehard fans who’ve been there from the very beginning, people who’ve fallen in love with her as a result of all of the attention she’s been getting and, finally, those who didn’t know much about her but went along because they figured it’d be good to see her before she completely blows up and it might be kind of special..
‘Kind of special’ is an understatement.
Kicking things off were local rock outfit The Yabbies, who delivered a chilled set that slowly got the crowd moving. The Yabbies delivered rock music that was unpretentious and fun, and it’ll be interesting to see them develop as they gig more and hopefully release some studio material.
Next up was Melbourne pop outfit Teeth & Tongue. Fronted by the ever-lovely Jess Cornelius, the band delivered a luscious set, that was all beautiful harmonies and some seriously sultry and powerful vocals. Latest single ‘Cupcake’ (the video for which is stunning, having been completely shot in Iceland) was a highlight, with the band effortlessly shifted between alt-rock to glammed out synth-pop to great effect.
Even before Barnett hit the stage, she had the crowd eating out of the palm of her hand. The, now at capacity, Gov was bursting with fans dying to hear her play her unique brand of alt-rock, and weren’t disappointed. Tearing and shredding her way through hits from The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas and her fabulous debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, including ‘Avant Gardner’, ‘History Eraser’, ‘Pedestrian at Best’ and - a highlight, if not only for the mention of Adelaide in the song - ‘Pickles From the Jar’. Megahit ‘Depreston’ was spellbinding.
One thing that’s irritating about the attention Barnett has got is that it has seemed almost solely focussed on her immense skills as a lyricist. And, yes, her songs double as a weird hybrid of yarn spinning, spoken word poetry and surrealist storytelling whilst still somehow managing to be marketable and immensely listenable, her chops as a guitar player often go unnoticed. ‘Pedestrian at Best’ is one of the hardest, most knockabout Aussie rock songs of 2015, as well as being a witty and hilarious pre-emptive strike on the hype-machine surrounding her debut.
Courtney Barnett live, changes the game. The lyrics and storytelling are still there, but they are washed in a fuzzy, grungy, distorted mess of guitars and raw garage rock energy. Those beautiful, intricate stories she tells become guttural howls when played live. Barnett is a brilliant writer, but she’s just as brilliant a singer and guitarist- and her live performance proves that she can shred with the best of them.
Regardless of your feelings about Ellen (stop dancing, you look like a fool) you can’t deny that she has great taste. Regardless of whether you knew about her “before she was cool”, you’re just getting into her now, or are about to start listening to her, what’s clear is that you’ll find something to love about Courtney Barnett.
And, if tonight was anything to go by, you damn well should. She was very special, to say the least.
The Gov has released more tickets to her second show on May 2nd, but they’re selling fast! Check here for details.