TVD Live: Courtney Barnett at the Metro, 10/27

PHOTOS: BRIGID GALLAGHER  | “We have to keep this between us…” said Courtney Barnett into the mic while playing the Metro in Chicago on Monday night. I am not good at keeping secrets and I want to capture whatever Courtney Barnett is about to say so I hit the button on my recorder… “I’ve never said this to anyone but, um I love you,” she says. I gotta admit, I swooned a bit.

“…this place is special to us because it’s one of the first places we ever played in February…and we came back and played again, and we’re back here now and even more people are here. That’s pretty fucking cool!” After Monday’s show, it’s apparent that people will continue to catch on to her music for its cool mix of blues and grunge and storytelling. I was shocked when I got a text from an acquaintance that I ran into just before the show saying that he wasn’t going to stay for her set. Yeah, that was a mistake.

Courtney Barnett has been touring for a good while now to support her latest release, “The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas” (not a full-length album but actually two EPs combined). She’s known for her smart, straightforward lyrics that start out somewhat normal but then quickly turn into these funny, sometimes anxiety-ridden stories. Songs like “Avant Gardner” and “History Eraser” come off louder and rowdier than on the recordings and it was the perfect pick-me-up to an otherwise mundane Monday. I was also impressed to learn that she has her own record label, Milk!Records, does all of her own writing and producing, and even does illustrations for her EPs as well as for other artists on Milk!.

Barnett has a tomboyish look. Messy hair, no makeup. She moved around the stage with this genuine rocker presence. Her limbs were loose and she kind of swayed to the beat, bopping around in her blackout Doc Martens acknowledging her band, the crowd, and totally in her element. She absolutely destroying every chord and making as much noise as possible, going in front of the amp and ripping at her guitar.

At times, she would press her lips against the microphone open up her eyes as wide as she could and look around at her audience who were either mesmerized and not moving or thrashing their heads around singing along to every lyric. At one point, someone threw a baseball cap on stage and she didn’t even notice until awhile later, placing the cap on the player’s head.

During the encore, she hinted that she’s writing more and I am personally looking forward to hearing what else she’s got in store for the future. In the meantime, I will be tracking down a vinyl copy of “The Double EP” for my collection as soon as possible. I tried to snag a copy at the show but they were sold out.

Catch Courtney Barnett on tour in the US with San Fermin and in Europe with Money for Rope.

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