Teeth & Tongue
Saturday, May 2, 2015
By the numbers, we now encounter the final seven days until The Bakery shuts after 13 years of service. Continuing the Last Toast Series on Saturday night was Courtney Barnett playing her first of two sold-out shows here (with support from Melbournian Jess Cornelius’ Teeth & Tongue) marking her second trip to the West this year.
After touring the US alongside an appearance at SXSW, Barnett was back in the country for her first national tour in support of her debut LP, sometimes i sit and think, and sometimes i just sit. After the doors were opened late, patrons rushed in just before Teeth & Tongue took to the stage. Lights, projections and Tambourines were in full effect as TT belted out recent single Cupcake as well as a long set from all prior releases including last year’s Grids. Finishing off the set, the whole band joined the audience in anticipation of the coming act.
Joined by bassist Bones Sloane and Dave Mudie on the drums, Barnett fittingly began strong with the album opener Elevator Operator before an eclectic set randomly picking a selection from both her EPs but mostly from the new album. Barnett made patrons aware of a so-called “Perth curse” which she apparently played “a shitty gig” every time she was in town although she suggested that this wasn’t one of those times which the crowd loudly agreed to. After this, a member of the audience shouted, “Everything you do is still perfect,” at which point she seemed taken aback and didn’t even end up responding despite a night filled with back-and-forth with the crowd. Courtney Barnett has this humble persona of imperfection, something she happily maintains ever so gracefully and with such sincerity that it captivates and befriends listeners. Complimenting this imperfect image were the tricolour stage projections that, for most of the night, had the controlling computer’s mouse cursor over the play button so that the control center was visible; a serendipitous unintentional touch IMO.
A very energetic set; Sloane and Barnett had their hair down and let it orbit as they got wild whilst transforming each track into minutes of grooving and light head banging. Bones made mention of the weather around the nation including Melbourne’s cold and the flooding further up the East, whilst also parodying Barnett’s album title; “Sometimes I sit and stink”. All performers, including Jess Cornelius, also expressed their dissatisfaction at the closing of The Bakery. Barnett played a couple of covers along the way including a rendition of Being Around by The Lemonheads and ending the night, following calls for an encore, with a sweet cover of an Australian classic, The Easybeats’ I’ll Make You Happy.
It would have been difficult to describe the age demographic of those in attendance. It seemed as if being drawn to Barnett’s music is almost universal or rather those typically drawn to her branding or style of songwriting have old souls, lovers of the modern folk tale; the type that reminds you of home, a friend or something special. There’s something about ambiguously introspective lyricism about the simplest things in life, such as house hunting, masturbation, asthma puffers, name badges, tramlines, views of the moon, staying in on a Friday night, and so on, that resonates so clearly with listeners.
All in all, a simply sweet gig that got very loud and funky at times and a perfect way to farewell one of our favourite venues at the beginning of its final week.