On Oct. 19, Stage AE was packed to the brim with 20- and 30-somethings for Australian artist Courtney Barnett’s debut performance in Pittsburgh.
Much like in the artist’s latest full length project, “Tell Me How You Really Feel,” Barnett opened with the bass-heavy “Hopefulessness.” It resonated throughout the whole building, and the bass was almost more present than my own heartbeat at times.
During her second song of the night, “City Looks Pretty,” Barnett took a second to gauge the audience, with the proverbial, “How are we doing tonight, [insert city name here]?”
Standard concert jargon. Pittsburgh was doing pretty well according to the audience’s thunderous roar of applause and persistent whistling.
Thunderous applause was the trend of the night. Especially when Barnett played her angry, rock masterpiece, “I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch.”
The stage presence of Barnett was anything but motherly. If the Aussie artist was not wailing on the guitar, then she was flailing on the stage.With her hair messy and lights flashing, the stage looked like something out of a movie. What Ms. Barnett lacked in concert attire, wearing only a modest white tee and black slacks, she made up for in personality and passion.
Passion was shown by Barnett’s bandmates as well, from the lengthy, and seemingly impromptu, drum solos of Dave Muddie and bass solos of Bones Sloane, to the effortless and timely switching from guitar to keys by Katie Harkin.
The set list was extensive with an impressive, uninterrupted 19 songs followed by a two-song encore. The inclusion of two cover songs threw curve balls in the mix. Barnett performed Gillian Welch’s, “Everything is Free” (solo), and she performed Elyse Weinberg’s, “Houses” (with opener Waxahatchee).
The encore was emotion filled and powerful. The slow jangly riffs of “Anonymous Club” paired exquisitely with the inversely upbeat and drum heavy single, “Pedestrian at Best,” which appeared on her sophomore LP.
The main chorus of “Pedestrian at Best” blaring, “put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,” proved to be untrue, as Barnett captivated hundred’s while standing on the music industries pedestal, the stage.