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Whimsical nostalgia was running high last night at Waxahatchee’s Newtown Social Club gig. A rollout of intimate acoustic sets was on the agenda with Waxahatchee, aka Katie Crutchfield, capping the workweek with her Australian debut.
Tattooed Newcastle-r Jen Buxton set the tone for the night by kicking things off with her Casey Chambers-like twang, plucky chords and self-depreciative humour. The punters that piled in early to catch the supports were immediately drawn to both Buxton’s minimalist set and the warmth of the floor; nestling into one another to defrost. Extremely calm and relaxed beneath the warmth of the stage lights, Buxton bantered between songs and lured punters to join the space with her husky vocals and intimately raw set.
Melbourne-born singer-songwriter Ali Barton followed – and boy, did she captivate. With her androgynous stance, top-knotted hair and multitude of endearing audiovisual hiccups, Barton’s hauntingly somber vocals and echoey bass licks silenced the crowd and drew even the disinterested to the floor. With gritty lyricism to rival a True Detective episode, it’s undeniably clear that this Unearthed indie glamour is about to soar.
Alabama-born girl of the moment Katie Crutchfield hit the small stage soon after, and launched into a collection of completely stripped back songs from her three-deep discography. Abandoning her usual band, Crutchfield was armed solely with a guitar and a mic, and invited the crowd into the personal nook she temporarily carved out on the stage.
“You guys are weird. You came to this weird-arse show on a Friday night… I’m just kidding – you guys are awesome.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Waxahatchee’s sound, I liken her to a grungier Lisa Mitchell with a bleaker disposition and the kind of poetic lyricism you’d find in a personal, yet angst-y journal; a little Tegan and Sara, a little Regina Spector. Her recently released Ivy Tripp album is like flicking through a collection of overexposed Polaroids while listening to a ’90s film soundtrack.
Her grungy and sometimes melancholic melodies embody a strong sense of nostalgia and leave you feeling like you grew up listening to her, when you in fact definitely did not.
Her acoustic numbers like American Weekend and I think I Love You from her debut album America Weekend were expectedly poignant and captivating, while some of her Indy Tripp tracks like Under A Rock were robbed of a band, and therefore a little underwhelming, for me.
Sadly, after nearly three hours of non-stop indie acoustic, the familiarities of each song stretched her set out and it began to border on tedious. But despite her solo set being slightly lackluster at times, Crutchfield’s stripped back performance evoked a sense of haunting romanticism, which propelled me to head home and play her second album Cerulean Salt on repeat.
Waxahatchee @ Newtown Social Club 2015 / Photo: Brandon Matich