BEING THERE: Courtney Barnett @ Union Transfer


Courtney Barnett is not yet famous, but she’s a legend in the making. Her lyrics are not yet iconic, but evoke Bob Dylan’s poetry. Her band has not yet attained rock and roll glory, but they rock like Nirvana. Point: Believe the hype. Courtney Barnett is for real, and she hasn’t even released a proper album yet. Her Thursday night show was originally booked at Boot N’ Saddle but had to be moved to Union Transfer to meet demand. Taking the UT stage backed by her power trio, she opened up a short set with “David,” one of those songs that sounds so classic and familiar that your jaw drops to discover it was released during the last few years (probably because it’s notably inspired by a very specific David: David Bowie). But that’s not all that makes your jaw drop: every time Barnett stepped back from the mic, she was no longer the sardonic singer-songwriter we know and love, but a head-banging rock maestro. “Out of the Woodwork,” the opening track of her Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, was the fusion of epic rock balladry and Barnett’s brilliant stream of consciousness lyrics that makes me feel like I’ve already met her. The jangle-y blues chorale, “Are You Looking After Yourself?” would have been a set highlight were it not followed by the reason many fans were there, “Avant Gardner.” As if playing the track up-tempo wasn’t enough to satisfy us, Barnett’s candid delivery of her poetry accompanied by bashful grins made the absurdity of the neurotic episode the song details almost personal. “History Eraser” was a hard-rocking closer to an almost unbelievably good set. As great as the music was, the in-between-song banter was just as good, if not better. Barnett joked about her insecurity about having her fly down, why she can’t wear hats, her trouble with American accents, and how “shitty” her guitar is. Finally, her two new songs, “Blah (Blah)” and “Depreston,” assured me that Courtney  Barnett will not be a One Double EP Wonder. Instead her music keeps getting better and better. Watching Courtney Barnett and her eponymous band at UT on Thursday, I could not shake the nagging suspicion that I was witnessing the birth of a star. Shine on. — NOAH SILVESTRY