Live Review: Waxahatchee at Howler
As Waxahatchee hit Victorian shores complete their Australian tour, Maria Somssich was there to walk us back through the intimate evening…
In the dark and intimate band room of Howler last Thursday on a golden summer evening, Alabama-born Katie Crutchfield performs under her bank moniker Waxahatchee, supported by local acts Camp Cope and Infinite Void.
Three-piece all girl indie-punk band Camp Cope start off the night. The band has a modest stage presence, quietly tuning between songs and exchanging smiles, with an audience member yelling out ‘Tell a joke Georgie!’ to break the silence at one stage. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Georgia leads the band with powerful vocals and raw, emotion-filled lyrics which are backed by simple but punchy chord progressions and drums.
Next is fiery post-punk Infinite Void, led by charismatic singer Alicia on guitar and vocals sporting a Sonic Youth t-shirt. Infinite Void is the heaviest band performing and jump straight in to an energetic set filled with some gnarly guitar solos and a relentless tempo held impressively well by the drummer. They draw the crowd up to the front with some encouragement and before long there is some definite head banging happening both on stage and in the audience.
Waxahatchee kick off their set with ‘Under a Rock’ and follow it with more songs from their latest album, Ivy Tripp, including ‘La Loose’ and ‘Air’, and some favourites from 2013’s Cerulean Salt and 2012’s American Weekend such as ‘Brother Bryan’ and ‘Peace and Quiet’. Even in the heavier songs, there is a carefully-strung balance between each instrument and Katie’s soft but warm voice is certainly not lost, always managing to shine through.
The entire set provides a dynamic mix of 90’s indie rock-inspired songs, and softer, more intimate numbers with some elements of folk. Crutchfield demonstrates that she has a great ability to be poetic and vulnerable lyrically and at the same time filled with feisty emotion.
There is an undoubtable warmth that Crutchfield bring to the stage when she performs and it seems contagious; the crowd is full of fans swaying and singing along, beers in hands and smiles all round. Towards the end of the set she thanks the audience for being here and for playing a part in their ‘weird fantasies’.
The set ends and is greeted by euphoric applause, whistles and cries and Katie returns back to the stage to perform an encore of three acoustic songs solo, changing the mood completely. She begins with delicate and simple ‘Swan Dive’ before being joined by twin sister Allison singing the harmony in ‘Blue Pt II’. It is definitely cool to be able to hear their vocal similarities and even watch them pull the same crumpled, open-mouthed face when hitting a long note. Crutchfield ends the show alone with a simple, moving rendition of ‘Summer of Love’, a raw and intimate mesmerising way to end, and for me definitely the highlight of the night.
Words by Marisa Somssich. Image taken from the cover of Ivy Tripp, which is out now.