COURTNEY BARNETT at TASTE OF CHICAGO
COURTNEY BARNETT at TASTE OF CHICAGO
Taste of Chicago- from the Petrillo Music Shell- Grant Park
Such a witty performer, Courtney Barnett is, appearing live from the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park, on a sunny and warm late afternoon.
So honest in her approach, both in her playing and presentation, let alone the given within her compelling songwriting.
Courtney Barnett’s song grapple with all sorts of emotions and downright bizarre behavior, like a balancing act that can go haywire at any given moment, and you standing all the sidelines taking it all in, waiting for everything to implode, which fortunately, it doesn’t.
Which just goes to show what a relief it is to finally catch Courtney Barnett perform in person, and to reassure you that’s it’s part of the act, and that everything’s going to be ok, that Courtney observes things from the third person- some of which she speaks of might be sort of true, but most of it comes from off the wall funny.
Talk about a refreshing perspective on her take of indie rock- sorely needed in this day and age, and a chance for some awesome escapism.
It’s all about balance with Courtney- balancing a sense of hopelessness while maintaining a hopeful perspective.
The yin and the yang- that’s front and center with Courtney Barnett.
Add to that while performing live: you obviously come from soundcheck, to relax in the green room, compose your setlist, all the while in the same clothes- no need to get all dolled up when it comes time to play- you’re all ready to go baby- “where’s my guitar and my band” is all that needs to be said.
And Courtney with her band- as a trio and as tight as ever, take her songs and turn them every which way, to punk rock, indie rock, and whatever, with the occasional wild and thrashing guitar outburst, backed by consistent and thumping rhythms, and making you want to move and shake to the beat.
You gotta open the show with “Avant Gardner”- Courtney’s first hit stateside , and a perfect example of Courtney’s gift for taking quiet moments of despair and making it something deeper and laughable. “Avant Gardner” is darkly funny on the surface, a simple song involving gardening, and finding yourself attracted to the paramedic assisting you while you’re in the midst of an asthma attack.
If this isn’t a song defining escapism- I don’t know what is.
I mean really- who else can you think of who can write like that?
The band followed things up with “City Looks Pretty”, which continues in the exploration of mundane loneliness while attempting to live a normal life.
Lots and lots of feedback on this song, guitar shredding, head bobbing, big smiles from Courtney and the band while letting it rip, all the while maintaining chaotic control.
Courtney’s band throughout can dish out heavy punkiness and angst, and yet keep things tight.
From the Taste of Chicago, which is a highlight for me year in and year out- this was an absolutely badass set- a four to the floor showpiece of crafty songwriting delivered with a deadpan what the fuck.
From Courtney’s third song “Small Talk”, into “Need a Little Time”, into the awesome “Nameless/ Faceless”, into “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch”, then “Crippling Self Doubt and a General Lack of Self Confidence”….are you getting the picture?
Courtney Barnett is as badass as badass gets.
How does she close her set?
With “Pedestrian at Best”, an acid tongued and sharp ditty about the bullshit of fame and trying to remain ordinary.
That Courtney can write about this stuff so nonchalantly while maintaining catchy and crafty melodies just goes to show the compelling power in her songwriting, with hopefully many more years to come without the well running dry.
Cheers- Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer