$20 Shouldn’t Buy This Much Music–Courtney Barnett and San Fermin at Webster Hall


Courtney Barnett (Grandstand HQ)

Courtney Barnett Photo: Grandstand HQ

On an already busy month in New York music-wise (and we’re not just talking about CMJ), indie music fans can expect a lot of bang for their bucks with these two acts, one from Australia and the other from right here in Brooklyn, sharing a bill at Webster Hall next week.

Anytime someone mentions Courtney Barnett, I immediately think about that Saturday afternoon a year ago when I went to a Brooklyn Vegan CMJ day show in Williamsburg. Barnett, who hails from Australia, was one of a group of performers slated to play that day. Before then, I had no idea who she was or what to expect–admittedly, I was only there because it was badge-free. In fact, I don’t even think the most of the crowd knew who this Aussie was. By the time she finished singing and playing guitar with her band during that short set, I was hooked. Her music had this kind of loose Stones-y, ramshackle indie rock feel to it, yet it’s also quite melodic. From there on, I became attracted to her music and even had an opportunity to interview her. Since then, Barnett has put out her full-length debut, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, toured with Billy Bragg, and earned some critical acclaim. Now she returns to the Big Apple again and it’s likely that the crowd will be much larger at Webster Hall for this gig than it was in Williamsburg a year ago.

Headlining the evening will be Brooklyn’s own San Fermin, a collective formed by keyboardist and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone. And when I say collective, it’s a pretty full cast of players that includes Ludwig-Leone, Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye (lead vocals), Rebekah Durham (vocals/violin), John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen, (saxophone), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar) and Mike Hanf (drums). Given the type of instrumentation involved, the band’s music is baroque indie pop–classically-influenced and horn-inflected with a somber yet ambitious sound that recalls Arcade Fire, The National (Tate sounds similar to The National’s singer Matt Berninger), and Emmanuel and the Fear. The classical bent from this band is not that surprising given that Ludwig-Leone previously collaborated with the composer Nico Muhly. I had a taste of the group’s music live this past summer when San Fermin opened for St. Vincent at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park and debuted a new song “Parasites”–overall, it was a very impressive outing. The group, which released a self-titled debut last year, is currently at work on a sophomore effort.

San Fermin and Courtney Barnett will perform on Wednesday, Oct. 22 at Webster Hall, 125 E. 11th St., Manhattan, 8:30 p.m., $20.

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