The line stretched from the entrance of Rough Trade to Wythe, down to N. 8th, and then around the corner almost to Kent. That’s what happens when Courtney Barnett announces a free show in NYC, and many of the folks in line were there through the heavy downpour early Sunday evening (6/5) — the weather that canceled Governors Ball that day where she was to have played. It was one of a few GovBall makeup shows, and it may not have been the biggest mass of people in NYC hoping to see a show, but still.

Most of those folks in line (I’d guess at least 1000) didn’t get in — Rough Trade holds less than a third of that — but the venue was as packed as I’d ever seen it, and they let another 50 or so watch outside the venue doors in the record store. Courtney thanked everyone for standing in the rain to get in and then, with her band, ripped through an hourlong set featuring favorites from both her albums, as well as The Grateful Dead’s “New Speedway Boogie,” her contribution to the Day of the Dead tribute. This was a crowd extremely psyched to be there, and Courtney let them ably take lead on the last couple refrains of “Depreston.” She and her band have pretty much been touring nonstop for the last year and a half and are very tight, but know when to be loose too, and make it all look effortless and fun. They were certainly having fun last night, with bassist Bones Sloane stage-diving near the end.

After the main set, the crowd demanded (stomped and clapped) for an encore and the band came back out and joked around and teased the audience with the intros to “Stairway to Heaven,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Wish You Were Here,” and other songs before finally playing one last song, “Pickles from the Jar.”

Words by Nick Pearis


Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.