08 April, 2015

Gig Review... Courtney Barnett @ Cambridge Junction, 7th April 2015

Courtney Barnett at Cambridge Junction by Matt Thorpe

Courtney Barnett is no stranger to the UK. She's been to the country a few times before, and this is her second time in Cambridge. The only difference between now and when she last played is that she has a brand new album titled "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit" and tonight's venue is about three and a half times the size as the venue she played in just last year. Barnett has seen her fan base and support growing rapidly in the UK and across Europe and by tripling the size of venues in just a space of a year proves that. However, judging by Barnett's ecstatic live performance it's very clear to tell that she is more than comfortable to play larger venues and it would be no surprise to see her tripling venues again in the coming year.

Fraser A. Gorman stepped onto the stage with just his acoustic guitar and a harmonica around his neck. Gorman and Barnett know each other. Gorman is signed to Barnett's label Milk! Records and has appeared in one or two of Barnett's music video (and Barnett has appeared in one or two of Gorman's videos). Gorman has a very country and folk influenced sound. His sense of humour is very dry and slightly awkward, but none-the-less he got a chuckle from an audience that seemed to be enjoying his music a lot. He played songs from his E.P including 'Book of Love' and some from his forth-coming debut album "Slow Gum" (out June 2015). Gorman could definitely find himself feeling at home with Barnett's fans as his peaceful and sweet country sounds weren't too dissimilar to Barnett's upbeat sound.

Spring King at Cambridge Junction by Matt Thorpe

Spring King followed Fraser A. Gorman and they fully delivered what you would expect them to deliver. Spring King have recently released two new track from their forthcoming E.P "They're Coming After You" and needless to say, they go down well with the relatively quiet Cambridge crowd. The band were winning new fans over by making their toes tap and pleasing the few people that already were familiar with their music. In fact, they saw their first mosh pit of the tour in Cambridge and drummer/vocalist Tarek seemed to be fairly surprised by that. Rattling through tracks from E.P "Demons" such as "Can I?" and "Better Man", Spring King were using the most of their time on stage. There are big things in the future for the four piece, even if they aren't the best at drawing (check out our interview with Spring King here to see some self portraits the band did). "We can't warm you up for Courtney", Tarek told the crowd, but I would completely disagree. Spring King had set the mood for Barnett's set that was shortly to follow.

Courtney Barnett at Cambridge Junction by Matt Thorpe

Courtney Barnett's stage show was brilliant. It's hard to describe... Imagine sticking your head under your bed covers and watching a band perform, but also maybe try some hallucinogenic to recreate the cool projections above and behind the band. One guy very close to the front was getting very into it. He was either summoning Satan with his odd hand gestures or simply practising Tay Chi in the middle of a gig. Barnett started her set with "Elevator Operator", the first track from her new album. She performs with two other members, Dave on drums and Bones on bass (who's jokes didn't really work so Courtney had to stand up for him). They played a long set, well over an hour long and crammed in songs from "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit" and "The Double E.P: A Sea of Split Peas". Tracks like "History Eraser", "Avant Gardner" and "Pedestrian at Best" went down a storm. At no point did Barnett and co. lose any energy. They closed their set with "Pedestrian at Best" before coming back on to do an encore. With the help of Spring King, "Pedestrian at Best" saw a decent pit and some crowd surfing.

Courtney Barnett's live shows may not be exactly what you expect by listening to her records but it is a show you can't miss. There's energy, it's loud and there are mosh pits, everything needed for a good show. It won't be long before she is gracing stages such as Brixton Academy. Make sure you check out our interview with her here and her label Milk! Records and watch Barnett's video for "Pedestrian at Best" below:

- Words by Nathan McLaren-Stewart