Courtney Barnett’s Emotionally Invested Set


Courtney Barnett at Boston Calling spring 2016. Photo by Ross Ketschke

By Grace Burns

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett and her band performed late this afternoon at Boston Calling music festival, and audiences raved as her grungy sound filled Government Center.

Barnett may be unassuming and gentle in person, but on stage she transforms and transcends. Here, she’s unafraid to tell audiences “don’t stop listening, I’m not finished yet”. While she may not be as physically active the entire time as other acts seen this weekend, there’s no doubt that she’s emotionally invested like no other. Despite the fact that she was on only one of the two of the festival’s main stages, she performed with such an authenticity that it felt like it was a casual coffee house performance instead of a performance at Boston’s biggest music festival of the season. This, combined with the emotional honestly she presents lyrically, had audiences screaming along to even the frankest of songs. Barnett has an extraordinary ability to make even the biggest of venues feel as familiar and friendly as you feel listening to her while snuggled in bed with your lover and some headphones.

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Boston Calling 2016. Photo by Ross Ketschke

She also provided a complete contrast to this by performing an alternative version of “Pedestrian at Best,” giving it a faster and harsher tone than the one presented on Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett and her band not only showed the audience how to properly head bang along to their songs, but they also had them jumping to the beat along with her, screaming even if they didn’t know all of the lyrics. The audience did anything and everything they could to share this moment with Barnett, creating an emotional connection between artist and audience that other artists could only dream to achieve.

Barnett closed her performance with “No One Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party,” a millennial anthem describing the conflict between wanting to be social and active while simultaneously wanting to never leave the house.If anybody was having these sorts of doubts before leaving for Boston Calling, Barnett quickly turned those around and made every audience member thankful that they were able to witness such an artist at work.

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