Sharon Van Etten
Jana Hunter (Lower Dens)
June 30, 2014
Sharon Van Etten, the charming singer/songwriter from Brooklyn, was all smiles and looking incredible. Clad in a form fitting black dress with gold up the middle and very high heels, she was looking smashing! Better than looking good, she was all charm with a witty/dry sense of humour and seems to laugh at her own jokes and is very light-hearted. Its not exactly what one expects after listening to her songs. She doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously and knows how to let loose. As mentioned, she is charming and delightful.SVE played to a packed house Monday night. Both of her shows sold out in San Francisco. She could easily be playing much larger venues, but its clear that shes comfortable and loves the intimacy. From the sounds of it, her show on Sunday night was nothing short of spectacular so it was hard to know what the show would be like. And this show was beyond incredible.
The majority of songs were off the new album Are We There. While her music is still powerful and haunting, she’s moved beyond heartbreak. Its clear that this is the grown-up version of herself, moving on with life. Her new album still has an angst to it, and its easy to get caught up in it and just feel it all. Its like everything she’s ever felt goes into her songs and it exudes from her as she plays.
She played ‘Leonard‘ dedicating it to the ex who probably knew it was written for him. As she said, his real name is ‘Bleonard’. It was like an inside joke that we were all part of, no matter how stupid it sounded. It was a funny joke and even better to see that she can now joke about this toxic relationship.
She talked lots about her merch, oh yeah she does have kleenex with her face on it so you know, you can blow your nose into. (no im not making this up!). And umbrellas for the rainy days we don’t seem to have (clearly an ongoing joke, with someone and her yelling ‘too soon’). She’s even thought of adding a new part to her show ‘current events with Sharon Van Etten’. Hah! Seriously, she could be on a talk show at the rate shes going. She talked to a huge fan in the front asking what current events she missed. Naturally, the story brought up was the student stuck in the vagina in Germany (because these things always occur). Ive got to hand it to her, without missing a beat she said ‘and the next song is “Break Me“‘, giggling as she starts playing the droning, lo-fi song. Its gorgeous like everything she plays.
SVE seems to know how to push people and understands concert crowds all too well. While there was lots of banter back and forth between the crowd and her, there were the inevitable naysayers who were getting upset and wanted her to just play. She joked about blogs and what kinds of nasty things would be written about the show and people would complain about her lack of playing and even more importantly there’s always the people who complain that enough old songs weren’t played. Its the nature of being in a band, and you never can win them all. But I actually think she should have garnered even more fans. And for those not paying attention, she played more songs last night than she did at her prior shows.
She quickly introduced the band as others yelled out for that in the mix of the banter. Her band is just awesome and it appears most of them aren’t going elsewhere. Heather Woods Broderick (Efterklang), is a great addition and matches Sharon Van Etten’s raw, haunting vocals. On the crowd-pleasing hit ‘Serpents‘, the women go back and forth almost as in a duel with each out performing each other with the vocals. Its strong, powerful and is beyond emotional. It packed a punch and made the already powerful song sound even better. Doug Keith, on guitar and vocals, was nicknamed ‘Pretty Boy’, by a fan who wanted to know which effects he was using on the guitar. Turns out it was the ebow, which he was nice enough to even spell.
She ended the set asking for some weed and promising a setlist in return. As she played the last song of the night, “Everytime the Sun Comes Up“, complete with laughter and giggles, some guys in front of her were nice enough to blow smoke up at her. It was the only song she had written totally stoned. After the show they gave her a joint and she kept to her word and gave out a setlist.
All in all, SVE sounded amazing and full but still has a haunting ache to her voice. Her fans relate as we all have stories, but she’s managed to articulate it so well with not just her lyrics, but with the music itself. This album is a nice departure from the last. Instead of all the amazing guest collaborators (The Dessners, Wye Oak, etc), this is more herself and perhaps it shows.Jana Hunter, lead singer of Baltimore’s Lower Dens, opened the set. Armed simply with just a guitar and a laptop, she sat down in a chair and played a lovely short set. It felt so intimate as if we were watching someone in her recording studio preparing her new album. The material is dark and ethereal and comes across as oh so moody. Simply put, its gorgeous and just takes you away.
It was great to hear her have some fun with Hall & Oates’ ‘Maneater‘; ’twas an amazing cover. And her voice had the perfect amount of rasp, which probably meant she did smoke the perfect amount of cigarettes.
SVE Set List:
Afraid of Nothing
Nothing Will Change
Don’t Do It
I Love You But Im Lost
You Know ME Well
Your Love is Killing Me
I Know (SVE solo)
All I Can
Everytime The Sun Comes Up