Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharon Van Etten At First Avenue


I discovered Sharon Van Etten via her 2012 album Tramp, so I am a bit late to the party. She's one of those artists where I'm like, fuck! How did I not know sooner???

Her show last night was gorgeous. Her voice is stunning and she has so much control over it. She stuck mostly to her latest album, Are We There?, which was only slightly disappointing as the songs are stellar, but I also love her earlier stuff so much. It would have been nice to hear more of those.

What struck me most about her is how personable she is. I expected her to come out on stage, hair in face, head down, sing the songs, maybe say hello or make one random comment or tell one story, but she was super funny and happy and self-mocking, often addressing how we are all so energetic on a Wednesday night while listening to her mid-tempo breakup ballads.

I had a great spot right in the first row, right against the railing. I almost left the spot before she started so I could run to the restroom, but I stuck it out and I'm so glad I did because it was a great spot and it really makes such a huge difference to be at a show and be right up front. You just become completely engrossed.

It was great to be up close and see how she and her backing vocalists relate to each other on stage. I'm fairly certain they just sang to each other all night. It was great to witness that connection.

 Singing to each other.

The one bummer note of the night was the opener. I am not against "digital" music or beats made by laptops, but if you are going to come up on stage and perform it, then perform it. Jana Hunter sat in a chair with a guitar that she sometimes played, with a laptop sitting on a table next to her that she would press a button, some backing track would start to play and then she would sing. It was dull. I mean, you are on the stage that Prince built and you are going to sit in a chair with your computer? No no no.

But Sharon was awesome. All live instrumentation. Oh, and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver joined her on stage during the encore. I thought something might go down when I saw him outside of the venue earlier and then he was hanging out side stage all night. I've actually never seen a Bon Iver show before. Crazy, I know. Considering where I live. So it was cool to see him do his thing.

 With Bon Iver

And I got one of her set lists at the end of the night! Note: she started out the encore with a solo, unplanned cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day" claiming the whiskey she'd been drinking gave her courage to do so. It was a stunning cover.

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