By Shannon Andreucci
The skies unexpectedly cleared for the opening night of the Twilight at Taronga series, making for a perfect summer’s eve on Sydney Harbour with Aussie rock darling Courtney Barnett. Needless to say a combination of breathtaking views, zoo animals, free ferry transport, the country’s hottest musical export and flowing Aperol Spritzes gave us plenty to love, but here are our top five moments…
1. Courtney Barnett is definitely a band. And boy do they rock
Between their identical shaggy hair and onstage camaraderie, Courtney Barnett’s compatriots Dave Mudie (drums) and Andrew ‘Bones’ Sloane (bass) aren’t just there to make up the numbers, together they’re the CB3.
The trio eased into the set with the low-fi charm of ‘Depreston’ and ‘Three Packs A Day’, but 90mins later, once the sun had truly set behind the horizon, they were tearing the stage up on abrasive tracks like ‘Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party’ and the defiant ‘Pedestrian At Best’. There was definitely a grungy vibe reminiscent of Nirvana‘s antics with Mudie pounding the drums and Barnett thrashing her distorted guitar on the stage floor.
2. No sound? No problem
Even when she was alerted to the blown speaker by her front row fans, Courtney Barnett and co. handled the sound issues like a pro: creating chatter and carrying on with the show. Whilst the teething issues did prove a bit distracting – and triggered a flashback to Tame Impala’s recent outdoor sound mishap on the Opera House steps – the tranquil crowd didn’t seem too bothered by it.
3. Barnett has mastered the art of putting effort into the effortless
The Melbourne-born poet-guitar hero has been hailed worldwide for her sluggish, sing-talking delivery of local stories about the monotony of suburban life. You wouldn’t be blamed for wondering if she made them up on the spot. The verbose lyrics and churning melodies of ‘Avant Gardener’ and ‘History Eraser’ were set list highlights, chanted back to Courtney Barnett by the sold-out crowd. And apart from nailing her effortless sound live, she looked effortlessly cool too; donning a trucker hat from Perth, and a plain tee paired with jeans and work boots. Courtney, can you be our friend?
4. Her banter is as deadpan as her lyrics
Staying true to the slacker sound and style that she’s become renowned for, Barnett’s introduction of songs were similarly blunt and to the point. “This is a song you can dance to”, preceded ‘Pickles From The Jar’, and “this is an angry song” served as a primer to ‘Small Poppies’. She wasn’t wrong. There was no rambling necessary as the storytelling songs spoke for themselves (though the lyrics were indistinguishable at times), and that is presumably what the audience came to hear.
5. Location, location, location
Did we mention how stunning the location was? If you like the sound of a complimentary ferry ride that takes in views of Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House, and a pleasant stroll through the grounds of Taronga Zoo whereby tree kangaroos, elephants and black swans can be spotted on your way to the family-friendly picnic style venue – then this is the outdoor music festival for you. Twilight at Taronga is running until March 12 with an impressive line-up of local and international talent.
Artists in this post
Courtney Melba Barnett (born 3 November 1987) is an Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist from Melbourne. Known for her witty, rambling lyrics and deadpan singing style, she attracted attention with the release of her debut EP, I’ve Got A Friend Called Emily Ferris. International interest from the UK and North American music press came with the