Courtney Barnett Interstellar Rodeo, Edmonton AB, July 22
Published Jul 23, 2018Beware the person who lacks all self doubt. Courtney Barnett met the colossal expectations for the followup to her career-launching Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit album with a touch of existential fever on Tell Me How You Really Feel. The wildly talented have special problems. At this point in her globe-spanning tour though, she seemed to have swam out past the void, because there were no traces of any kind of unease during her Interstellar Rodeo appearance.
Barnett received the best lighting of the festival, un-plagued with the storms from previous nights. She glowed too, making direct eye contact with the enraptured audience to suggest that she was genuinely content to be playing a summer festival in a different hemisphere from her native Australia.
When she wasn't hunched over, lashing through raw, grunge-tinged riffs there was a low key function to the form of her guitar playing. Barnett rarely reached higher than the seventh fret of her low-hanging, left-handed, cherry red Fender Jazzmaster. But then, why would she if she didn't need to? It formed a perfect place for her plainly sung lyrical brilliance to splash up above her Cobain-era sound.
The juxtaposition of being amongst the best songwriters of our time who draws from a pool of sounds from another time is a strange space to occupy. To have seen Barnett live was like watching someone limp out onto a diving board, stand there and look at herself for a second, then casually smile and pull off a trick so pure and exciting that it leaves you dazed for the rest of the day.