Photo by Matthew Shaver |

I wonder if there is a moment in every artists life, when they are performing in from of their parents, where they have to ask themselves if they would rather make daddy proud or make the crowd happy, if those options aren’t the same thing. I couldn’t imagine, and I can’t answer for Sharon Van Etten, but at the very least, she picked the latter as she graced Union Transfer with her presence on Wednesday night.

It was a rowdy night, full of f-bombs, or as Van Etten assured us, ph-bombs, apologies to her dad, and more children than I expected for a show of this kind. Coming out strong, apparently too strong, the night took its first odd turn when a guitar string broke. Not one to let the little things get to her, Sharon consistently engaged her audience, from dancers, jokesters, hecklers, slightly intoxicated admirers, and even spent a couple of minutes recounting Don Hertzfeldt’s “Rejected” cartoons.

In between all of the antics, however, was a fair amount of breathtakingly beautiful music. In a tender moment, Sharon revealed her desire to prove to the audience that she was talented on more instruments than just the guitar, and did so by cycling through songs both old and new while constantly rotating between keys and strings. Every song hit hard, culminating in the encore moment where she pulled one young fan onstage to pretend to be a part of the band. Van Etten may be from Jersey, but she treated Philly like home and family.

Afraid Of Nothing
Taking Chances
Nothing Will Change
All I Can
Break Me
Don’t Do It
You Know Me Well
Your Love Is Killing Me

I Know
I Love You But I’m Lost
Every Time The Sun Comes