If the Newport Folk crowd was scandalized by Bob Dylan going electric in 1965, they would've hated Courtney Barnett's grungy, hard-rocking performance 50 years later. Supported by Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums, the Aussie singer, songwriter and guitarist blazed through a set highlighting songs from her recent debut full-length, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. The album sees Barnett shooting off whimsical, stream-of-consciousness poetry that might be placed in the tradition of Dylan, if Dylan were to set his lyrics to fierce, sludgy guitar. Songs like "Depreston" tell detailed stories with curiously precise turns of phrase ("Now we've got a percolator / Never made a latte greater / I'm saving 23 dollars a week").
For all the wit and richness of language in her music, Barnett was endearingly self-effacing between songs. When an audience member called for her to play her hit "Avant Gardener," she sweetly chided the offender for ruining her intro – then launched into the song with guns blazing.
Highlights From Courtney Barnett's Set
- "Dead Fox"
- "Debbie Downer"
- "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party"
- "Avant Gardener"
- "History Eraser"
- "Pedestrian At Best"
Audio: Joshua Rogosin, Suraya Mohamed and Monique Mizrahi; Photography: Adam Kissick.