Courtney Barnett tears it up in cozy, sweaty show at Pico Union

Courtney Barnett Pico Union 2018 mainbar

Thursday night was pretty hardcore over at the Pico Union Project in Los Angeles. The multi-faith cultural arts center hosted an intimate show featuring one of the best rockers today – Courtney Barnett.

Bay Area natives Jay Som got the good vibes flowing. Fronted by songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melina Duterte, Jay Som served up some seriously infectious and melodic bedroom pop. The crowd instantly loosened as they swayed along to songs from the band’s two records, Turn Into and Everybody Works. I first discovered Jay Som when they opened for Mitski back in 2016, alongside Japanese Breakfast. Ever since their stellar live performance, I’ve been hooked. Thursday’s crowd was definitely a mixture of old and new listeners too, so it was very special. Whether you came already a Jay Som fan or not, you sure left as one after that set.

Once the stage was cleared and reset with new gear, there was nothing else to do other than begin the anxiously anticipated rock show. Lights went dim and the rest was history. 30-year-old Australian rocker Courtney Barnett made her way to the center of the stage with ease. With her candy apple red metallic guitar in hand, Barnett went straight into her nearly 20-song set with new track “Hopefulness”.

Off the sophomore solo album Tell Me How You Really Feel, which drops May 18th via Mom+Pop, the track actually opens the record. After filling our ears with some more new and exciting-sounding jams, Courtney said that she figured that she and her band would just play the new record in its’ entirety from start to finish! We were more than okay with that!

The cheering crowd continued rocking out to these new songs that only reminded us why we love Courtney Barnett so much. Her music is filled with such intricate lyricism that demands attention and intrigue. And what a rocker! Heads continuously rolled and bobbed throughout the night that necks were absolutely sore.

Released last month, one of the new singles “City Looks Pretty” was brought to the live stage with bright lights! It’s always a rad experience to see an artist perform their new music before it’s officially released, and on Thursday, 300 lucky attendees got the chance to do so. Barnett is a force to be reckoned with, even with her laid back demeanor. She creates the purest rock and roll with her own unique spin.

It was unanimously agreed that the new material sounds fantastic! The sold-out crowd applauded Barnett’s performance without question. As promised, Courtney rounded up her set with 9 more classic hits we all sang along to. Ending the show with “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party,” closed things out on a high note. Thursday’s show was absolutely worth the sweat we all had to endure in the packed space. Have a great weekend and get your ears ready for next Friday’s new release from the rockstar herself!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Courtney Barnett returns to Los Angeles on October 5 for a headline show at the Greek Theatre! Don’t miss out on tickets! She also recorded a KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic episode that will air May 18 (the same day her record drops) in the 11 AM Pacific Time hour! I was in attendance, it was my actual 30th birthday and easily the best present I received, what a show.

Words and photos by Danielle Gornbein