Concert Review: Ali Barter, March 9, Drake Hotel

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A few songs into Ali Barter‘s set at The Drake on Monday night, an enthusiastic fan shouted out, “So good!” Barter’s response was to tell us all that So Good is the name of a brand of soy milk in Australia, and he in turn took this as an opportunity to tell Barter about bags of milk. Sure, why not.

I guess since they were on the general topic of consumer goods, Barter also noted that there’s no more toilet paper in Australia, clearly a comment on the current coronavirus outbreak which has led to people panic buying mass quantities of TP.

While stockpiling toilet paper certainly seems like an overreaction, a similar abundance of caution has also resulted in the much more understandable yet still disappointing cancellation of next week’s SXSW festival and conference, which in turn has left touring musicians like Barter with a SXSW-shaped hole in their schedules.

Touring behind her latest album, Hello, I’m Doing My Best (which is, in fact, so good – that guy wasn’t wrong), Barter was in good spirits despite the setback and was quite happy to be in Toronto to play her first ever Canadian show. Though she was only here for a short while before going back to the U.S. for a few more shows, she promised she’d be back. And like many touring musicians, she polled the crowd on exactly how one should pronounce our fair city’s name, finally settling on “Tronno.”

Barter ran through most of the new album with highlights including “Backseat”, “History Of Boys” and a solo performance of “January” (which we wrote about here). She introduced that song by talking about how much she generally hates the month of January. “It seems like the promise of a new year, but by the end of the month you’re the same old fuckhead,” she said, before adding, “Let’s get depressed” and launching into the song.

Another memorable number was “Ur A Piece Of Shit,” which she described as “a love song” that she wrote for her friends. Both that song and “January” exemplify what’s good about Barter’s songwriting – she writes about the stuff one can go through while growing as a person and dealing with your issues, all of it with a touch of humour at times and set to some very catchy tunes reminiscent of ’90s/early 2000s indie and alt rock sounds. I’ll take that over soy milk any day.

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Posted on by Paul in Concerts

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