12th August 2012 @ The Toff In Town
Three respective ladies taking the stage on a Sunday night at The Toff, all with their own distinct voices, in a low-key fashion. There’s probably few better ways to end your weekend than with an intimate dose of acoustic music.
With her Bob Dylan t-shirt and hair that frequently covered her eyes, Courtney Barnett looked as if she felt a little out of place without her backing band.
While initially to the crowd she may have looked like an innocent young lass, Barnett was quick to throw her shyness out the door as she sang; “I masturbated to the songs you wrote/Doesn’t mean I like you man/ it just helps me get to sleep/And it’s cheaper than temazepam.”
The mutters from the crowd were noticeable as Barnett sang the opening track from her debut EP, I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.
Her disarming anti-folk may have not quite connected with a crowd searching for the sweet folk stylings of Katie Herzig or the powerful voice that is Butterfly Boucher, but Barnett has an oddly affecting – if not at times hostile – charm.
Her stage presence may have come across as too cool for school, but the singer has the voice and songwriting credentials to take her far beyond that of an acoustic support slot.
While this may have been Butterfly’s show, the night acted as a co-headline between the Adelaide born singer-songwriter and Katie Herzig.
The two were present on stage for each of their respective sets and the audience gave Herzig their undivided attention, something which all too often isn’t reserved for the support act.
Not that it’s surprising though, the American folk singer has an impressive four album strong discography and a haunting voice guaranteed to stun anything within earshot.
The stripped back versions of her songs, particularly those from 2011′s The Waking Sleep are far more delicate than their album counterparts.
So confident with her back catalogue was Herzig that she took a detour from her planned setlist by asking the crowd if they had any requests. The call for ‘Jenny Lynn’ came and Boucher left the stage so Herzig could make that one fan’s night.
The Nashville-based singer took another surprising turn, although this time more in a musical sense, as she told the story of being asked to write a song for the Sex and the City film. The unused tune, ‘Hey Na Na’ was unlike most of Herzig’s other songs, being far less introspective.
Although the singer could have probably played for much longer, Herzig was treated as if she was the headlining act and rightfully so too, given her inexorable music talents.
In support of her third self-titled LP, Butterfly Boucher has been keeping herself busy, not only helping to produce Missy Higgin’s latest album, but to support her on tour and play in her band.
Opening with ‘The Weather’, Boucher’s voice reached heights and noise levels that neither Barnett or Herzig had done previously. With a little encouragement from Boucher, the crowd were singing along from the beginning. Although none more so than on her breakthrough single ‘I Can’t Make Me’ or the closer ’5678!’.
When Boucher wasn’t belting out the songs, she was entertaining with her quick wit in-between.
While some of her best performances were her acoustic moments, her reliance on a backing track during some songs, made for a weird live setting. It’s something that she could have done without, as she had proven that just her voice and a guitar was more than enough.
On the occasions that Boucher just relied on the basics, her performance was naturally as incredible as you’d expect from a musician of such calibre.
While her set was left wanting for a few more songs, Boucher assured her audience that she would be back in November and possibly with a band.
The sold-out crowd were notably pleased with the announcement of her plans, the underrated songstress boasts a voice and songs that warrant another tour.
- Corey Tonkin