Courtney Barnett delivers legend-levels of rock at Union Transfer
When Courtney Barnett made her Philly debut at Union Transfer back in February, 2014, I was there, my camera and notebook in tow. Of that glorious evening, I wrote the following:
Believe the hype. Courtney Barnett is for real, and she hasn’t even released a proper album yet… Watching Courtney Barnett and her eponymous band at UT on Thursday, I could not shake the nagging suspicion that I was witnessing the birth of a star. Shine on.
Since then, Barnett and her band have returned to Union Transfer twice more (Monday night included), the stage they’ve learned to shake so powerfully moving back with each appearance to accommodate the Aussie’s growing following. They’ve also released a true LP, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, which, to my ear, sounded like a compilation of Drake & Josh theme songs revamped with better lyrics upon first listen. Simply put, it wasn’t the sophomore album I wanted. So does that make me wrong, or did even Barnett herself see this coming? On “Pedestrian at Best”, she sings, “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you”, which is pretty much exactly what happened with the new record. Turns out none of this matters because I saw Courtney Barnett at Union Transfer Monday night, and she still puts out legend-levels of rock onstage.
Unlike that February night that put Barnett on my pedestal, which featured music in all gears (out of the necessity of only having a 12-song catalog), Monday night’s show put the pedal to the metal. Outside of the quaint “Depreston”, a tease of “Anonymous Club” which Barnett personally shot down, a solo rendition of You Am I’s “Heavy Heart” (an encore staple this tour) and the half of “Kim’s Caravan” when Barnett wasn’t shredding sans pick, there was nothing that didn’t rock seriously hard. Even “Lance Jr.” and “Canned Tomatoes (Whole)” shook the old Spaghetti Warehouse. Hell, people seemed to be rocking out to the ear-piercing feedback from her signature Telecaster, which she left moaning on the ground after a set-closing “Pedestrian at Best” that truly went to eleven.
For a while, I’ve affectionately nicknamed Courtney Barnett’s “CB3” configuration her “Nirvana outfit”. And while I’m a bit too young to have witnessed the band that changed rock in the flesh, I’m beginning to think that won’t matter too much if this rock goddess keeps it up.