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Live Review: Courtney Barnett, October 11 @ The Zoo

Words by Scenewave Australia - Published on October 15, 2014

Whether the label of ‘slacker rock’ can be appropriately slapped on to Courtney Barnett’s music, is up for debate; the woman herself, however, is anything but a slacker. She hit Brisbane Saturday night following four sold out shows in Melbourne the week prior. Impressive, considering the only thing most slackers do four nights in a row is get baked and watch Adventure Time (hey, I’m not judging). In fact, the entirety of Barnett’s tour regime, musical output, and the effort she pours into her label, Milk Records, is indicative of how god damn hard-working she is. 2014 has seen her audience grow alongside a Jimmy Fallon appearance, overseas attention, one hell of a Splendour set, and a new album which is due out next year. All this brings us to her Australia tour, which wrapped up on the weekend at Brissy’s, The Zoo.

With her, Barnett brought DD Dumbo, whom you’d be forgiven for mistaking for a band if you heard his music without any context. This is because DD Dumbo, or Oliver Perry as his parents named him, packs a lot into a track for just one guy. The guy has more musicality than most three/four piece bands have in their entire lineup. Now that’s not an easy sound to transmit to a live setting, but Perry does a hell of a job of it. The stage during his set had more pedals than a bike store, and when he was in full swing, he had more loops than a boy scouts’ knot tying class (too many analogies, or not enough?). As each song began, Perry would take up instrument after instrument, his foot skimming over loop pedals with impeccable timing: mesmerising shit. At one point he looped in a recorder of all things, in a move that would have surely impressed his year three music teacher. At another, he was using some killer distortion in a way that leant his guitar to sounding like a cathedral organ. “Tropical Oceans” was an obvious highlight of his set.

One thing most punters leaving a Courtney Barnett gig at the end will rave about, is how much energy it had. Just how fucking hard Courtney and her band can shred isn’t readily apparent on her recorded stuff, but after the first song of her set on Saturday, “Davey”, it became a little bit clearer to those new to her live music. However, the optimal ‘hardness’  of the ‘shredding’ (scientifically speaking) probably wasn’t reached until mid way through the set at the back end of “Canned Tomatoes (Whole)”, and again for “History Eraser” in the encore, which were far and away the loudest of the bunch.

Between all that there were some quieter tracks including personal favourite, “Anonymous Club”, which brought a fellow Splendour punter’s words echoing back into my head: ‘max chill’; and of course, “Lance Jr”, the song that got most of us on board back in 2012 when Courtney released I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris. “Avant Gardener” was a definite highlight for most, judging by the way the one bong related lyric rang out through the venue. There was also a slew of new tracks, including her most recently released, the sing-along-able “Pickles From the Jar”; and one I hadn’t heard before, the cleverly named, “Depreston”, after the suburb (Ha!).

The new album drops early next year, and will probably be accompanied by another tour. If you missed out on a ticket this time, probably get your shit together before then, because no doubt it’ll sell out even faster.

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