Courtney Barnett, the deadpan strummer of poetic reckonings of life big and small, opened the first of two nights at the Ace Hotel in true splendor. Armed with her guitar, an untethered croon, and her resplendent band, the Australian singer/songwriter spent the night whittling away at the hearts that sat in the darkened theater. With every earnest hammer-on and carefully elongated pluck, Barnett elicited a weary hope and galvanizing tenderness from her kinetic lyricism. From crowd favorites like “Avant Gardener” and “Elevator Operator,” to the bristling crescendo of agitated riffs and wails on “Small Poppies,” Barnett was ready to shred for the crowd. The night also saw the introduction of songs from her latest album Things Take Time, Take Time, with songs like “Rae Street” and “Write a List of Things to Look Forward To” glowing bright and illuminating in their intrepid vulnerability.
Bartees Strange opened the night for Courtney Barnett, bringing the full weight of his raucous rock anthems to the Ace Hotel for the first time. Jittery, restless, and sonically spectacular, every moment of Strange’s set was characterized by his band’s unstoppable energies. Offering up much of his debut album Live Forever, Strange and company were meteoric as they pummeled out songs like “Boomer” and “Stone Meadows.”
Words & Photos: Steven Ward