Courtney Barnett is so good. I was already a staunch believer in this statement even before I saw the first of her sold out two-night stand at DC’s 9:30 Club on Saturday, June 13th, but it’s what popped into my head during the first springy solo in the woozy sock-hop sway of “Small Poppies”. This was also in my mind the moment before Courtney launched into the power chord punch of the “Pedestrian at Best” chorus and during the fourth repetition of the dryly delivered refrain of “History Eraser” during the encore. It was also what I was thinking leaving the show and what I’m thinking now.
Joined by just a drummer and a bassist, Barnett managed to fill up the 9:30 Club better than many other acts with armies of backups and fleets of synths at their disposal. There’s an honesty and emotion that walks into a room with Courtney that isn’t often found at such potent doses at concerts and cannot be faked. The dead-eye description of the burbs in “Depreston” hit even harder live, making everyone want to hug their city life even tighter as she rode out on her “spare half a million” ending coda. Hearing Barnett serve up an endless stream of one-liners over the undeniable groove of “Avant Gardener” was worth the price of admission alone. I even noticed a new pun I had missed in the over thirty other times I’d heard the song. So good. Between songs Courtney was both cheery and cutting as she brought warmth and wit to the stage. One of the night’s brightest moments was Barnett responding to a fan dropping a letter for her onstage by requesting that the other members of her band also receive notes. So, so good.
I can’t wait to hear what Courtney has to say next and how she’ll say it. Also, in case you forgot, Courtney Barnett is so good.