Sharon Van Etten is an admirable woman with an almost girlish stage personality. Admittedly, though I’ve always noted her talent, it took me a quick minute to get into the studio versions of her tunes. After the show at First Avenue last Saturday night, however, she stole my heart. Van Etten started off with “All I Can,” from the recent full-length, Tramp. The soft-sell start resulted in a cinematic sound not halfway through, as if the band were announcing “we’re here, and this is going to be awesome.”
Van Etten appeared to be both honored and at ease with the audience. There was no lack of attention from her fans, but a definite wall of respect. The banter had a ‘real life’ feel to it without being overdone, leaving me (and I could guess most of the audience) with that feeling of wanting to be her best friend. With a precursor of “I wrote this song when I broke up with someone and was trying to quit smoking; one sucked more than the other” the band launched into “Kevin’s.” Zeke Hutchins (drums) and former Minnesotan Doug Keith (bass, at that moment) absolutely rocked it; it was an all-around incredibly powerful moment on stage. One of my favorite points of the evening was during “Magic Chords,” where Van Etten broke out the Omnichord (I would love it if more artists used this, then again how many can pull it off like SVE?), and Keith threw in a nice set of harmonies.
The audience was lucky enough to get a taste of the never-made-it-to-the-album track “This Is Too Right.” I understand that artistic choices have to be made, but this tune is just as reliable as any to come out of Tramp, so it must have been a tough call. Percussion was the clincher; Zeke Hutchins is so bad ass.
“Serpents” was a mind fuck. The good kind. Keith treated us to bowed guitar, while Heather Woods-Broderick (keys, harmonies, a little bit of everything) hopped on the bass. Van Etten escaped into an artist’s world, ending on her knees after her vocal resonance put a haze on the Mainroom. The audience seemed absolutely stunned; all eyes were on the stage. Then, after a very real rendition of “I’m Wrong,” Van Etten finished the pre-encore set with “Love More.” It was haunting; the perfect end to a film full of heartache, resolution, and passionate theatrics.
*Openers Tennis put up some groovy dance-pop rock. I wish they would have loosened up more though.
All I Can
This Is Too Right **missed the cut for Tramp, but may appear on a b-side according to SVE
Don’t Do It
By Laura Yurich
Saturday, August 4, 2012
First Avenue Mainroom
Posted 9 months ago