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Courtney Barnett @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Words: Claudia Schmidt
Photos: Pete Sotiropoulos

As Courtney Barnett and her band take to the stage the lights are down and David Bowie’s ‘Suffragette City’ blares into the theatre. It is a tribute to the late rockstar and its inclusion in Barnett’s set serves as a nod from one hero to another. Bowie’s song seems to set the tone for the rest of the night–there is a momentous feeling about it.

In the last year Courtney Barnett has established herself as one of the biggest up and coming artists in Australia. But more than that–she has become a kind of national antihero. Barnett serves as a fierce defiance to the Australian cultural cringe, and she seems to celebrate many things about Australian culture that we once tried to forget. On stage she is petite and humble, yet her unapologetic Australian accent, her cynical and witty lyrics, the fuzzed out guitar, her unpretentious persona and her signature unwashed hair, all reaffirm Barnett’s particular brand of Australiana that she has unwittingly weaved into our hearts. Barnett plays from strength to strength, effortlessly gliding through the songs, and the eclectic crowd hangs off every word. It’s almost as though Barnett has taught us how to embrace our own culture again. Occasionally Barnett’s nonchalant composure cracks and she grins into the crowd–one which is often mirrored by her bassist and drummer who energetically play alongside her–occurring at one particular point when an Australian coloured blow up ball is thrown through the crowd.

The whole thing feels very Australian. But it feels good.