There’s something to be said for a musician with an incredible onstage presence and something new to bring to the table. With the recent release of her second album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett is still crushing the music scene.
Nestled in the balcony of the Danforth Music Hall, a girlfriend and I went to go see Barnett perform last night. She’s come to Toronto before, but I was one of the many unfortunate souls in the past to only watch her through someone else’s Instagram story.
Before things went underway, Barnett left the stage to her opener, Vagabon (Lætitia Tamko). I’m sorry to say that the half-hour set was a disappointment. It was pretty obvious that Tamko’s performance left many concertgoers uninterested and the chatter of the music hall was almost as loud as her music. It’s unfortunate that so few people came out to see someone with such a huge voice, and someone who’s making waves in the indie scene. But, she performed a few tunes and headed backstage where everyone waited in anticipation for the main act.
Barnett, on the other hand, is someone to take note of onstage. Her presence and charisma radiate offstage and onto everyone lucky enough to see her. She has this innate ability to mesh mellow tracks like “Depreston” and “Dead Fox” with more amped tunes like “Pedestrian at Best” that bring out the raspy tones in her voice and a rockstar presence. Being able to indulge in such a character only highlights her talent.
Accompanied by only six lights, kept relatively dim throughout half the set, and her band members, Barnett came out in a pair of jeans and t-shirt to show off her low-key attitude she’s best known for. But, it’s her personality and lyrics that tell tales of her modest fame, insecurities, and struggles with confidence; ironically, these personality traits are what make her stand out from the rest.
The first half of her set included songs off her new album and I appreciated how she quickly informed the crowd that “this song is about depression” before jumping right into a track. She doesn’t give you any time to think about what she said or dwell on it, she just gives you a quick description, so it lingers in the back of your mind as she performs and makes the music more powerful and relatable.
When she comes back to town I would recommend going to see her. There’s something to be gained in seeing a musician parade around onstage and shower you with honesty, not only in her person but in her lyrics.