Working closely with producer Stella Mozgawa (drummer for Warpaint), End of the Day departs from Courtney Barnett’s other work, and not only in being an instrumental record. The album incorporated more electronic aspects in service of providing a moody, eerie sonic dreamscape to accompany the film.
At at a recent show at The Atlantis in DC, Mozgawa accompanied Barnett on keys for the first, 30-minute part of her set, which was dedicated to selections from the musical score.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Courtney Barnett released her first EP, I Have A Friend In Emliy Ferris, to strong press in her native Australia, even attracting fans in the US and the UK. A second EP, Carving A Carrot From A Rose, appeared to a similar reaction the following year. She made her commercial breakthrough in 2015 with her first full-length record, Sometimes I Sit Here and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which made it into the US top 20.
She’s since collaborated with indie stalwart and similarly-minded artist Kurt Vile on Whole Lotta Sea Lice. Before recording as a solo artist, she made an album with the alt-country band Immigrant Union; Vile has put his own spin in Americana and alt-country sounds. Both are indebted to singer-songwriters: Vile has recorded with John Prine, and Barnett was deeply influenced by the fantastic Paul Kelly, who is woefully under-appreciated outside of his native land. Barnett has also released two more albums of solo material, Tell Me How You Really Feel (2018) and Things Take Time, Take Time (2021).
Most recently, Courtney released her first instrumental album, End of the Day, which was a written as a score to a documentary about Barnett, Anonymous Club.
Stream End of the Day by Courtney Barnett on YouTube:
The Atlantis’s intimate nature made it the perfect setting for this music for the concert performance on Oct. 15. The audience was completely hushed for the instrumental portion of the show, which really highlighted Barnett’s skill on the electric guitar. On its recently published list of the top 250 guitarists, Rolling Stone listed Barnett at No. 220.
After the 30-minute instrumental set, Barnett came out to do a number of her songs for the audience. The audience was still somewhat hushed and subdued from the instrumental portion of the evening, but Courtney got them to come alive, asking if we were being quiet because she was playing solo, and encouraging audience participation. The audience obliged, singing lyrics with, and back at, Courtney. “Avant Gardener” got an especially strong response from the crowd. Other songs included “Rae Street,” “City Looks Pretty,” “Need A Little Time,” “Depreston,” “Sunday Roast.” After that last one, she said, it “really makes me happy when people sing that part.” She finished her set with “Before You Gotta Go,” and, for her encore, she playing, “Oh The Night,” which she told the audience is “about friendship, when your friend is far away.”
Singer-songwriter Anjimile opened the show with a 30-minute solo acoustic set. After a couple of numbers, she said, “I’m gonna sing a bunch of songs about my family, so sorry man.” These included “Father” and “Mother,” as well as “1978,” which she wrote about the grandmother she never met, who died when her mom was 13 or 14. Her set also included what she called “my punk song.”
This was a unique evening, particularly because of the instrumental set. It really allowed Barnett to show off her all-around skills as a musician, songwriter, and performer.
Here are some photos of Courtney Barnett (and Stella Mozgawa!) performing at The Atlantis in DC on Oct. 15, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Steve Satzberg.