sharon van etten

Roskilde Festival Review: Stella Donnelly, Sharon Van Etten, Søren Huss, Testament, July 4

Posted on by Paul in Concerts, Everything | Leave a comment


“Thank you for coming in here,” said Stella Donnelly at the outset of her early afternoon set on the Gloria Stage. “I was not expecting this many people and now I’m shitting my pants.”

While she may have been surprised and perhaps a bit intimidated by a larger crowd than expected, she ended up putting on a fantastic show regardless. In fact, her set ended up being the most memorable show out of the entire day’s lineup. Donnelly came across as charming and funny, both in her lyrics and her stage banter, while also dealing with serious issues in her songs. Highlights of her set included”You Owe Me,” “Boys Will Be Boys,” “Old Man” and “Seasons Greetings,” described by her as a song about spending Christmas Eve with racists. “Never done that intro before,” she added, wondering if it was perhaps a bit too harsh before ultimately deciding it was a “short and sweet” summation of the song. She ended things off by bringing her bandmates up to the front of the stage to sing along with her as she played a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” “I’ve got a special treat for you Roskilde,” she noted. “I’m gonna play it in tune. Didn’t do it at Glastonbury. Fuck ‘em.”

It’s not always the case that the first act up for the day ends up being the best thing you see all day, but it absolutely happened for me with Donnelly’s set on the most intimate stage at Roskilde. As it turns out, the intimate vibe and personal songwriting of Donnelly’s show set the tone for the day, with most of the best sets I saw coming from performers who could be classified as singer-songwriters.

Immediately after Donnelly, I wandered over to the Arena Stage to take in a set from Søren Huss, a well regarded Danish singer-songwriter best known for his time fronting ’90s Danish rock band Saybia. Of course, the fact that he sings in Danish and all his stage banter was in Danish meant I didn’t understand a damn word he said, but one doesn’t need to understand the language to appreciate the songcraft.

Speaking of good songs, Sharon Van Etten’s got more than her fair share of those in her repertoire and she played a good number of them, from earlier numbers like “One Day” to newer songs like “Seventeen” and “Comeback Kid” off of her latest Remind Me Tomorrow. The most memorable moment in her set however, came in the form of someone else’s song – a cover of Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” that, as Van Etten pointed out, is sadly all too relevant today decades after it was first released.


Of course my day wasn’t devoted entirely to singer-songwriters and one of the other highlights of the day came from the heavier end of the musical spectrum in the form of Testament’s thrash metal (not to be confused with Donnelly’s debut EP Thrush Metal). The Bay area thrashers ran through a fun set full of tracks from throughout their career, including “Practice What You Preach,” “Electric Crown” and “Low,” which, according to vocalist Chuck Billy, may have made its European live debut at this show. Since the band was playing on the 4th Of July, they played in front of a version of their logo that incorporated an American flag to acknowledge their country’s birthday. That wasn’t the only birthday being acknowledged during their show though – Billy also led the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to the band’s tour manager Nick.

And while we’re on the topic of birthdays, here’s a gift for everyone, even if it’s not your birthday: a video of Stella Donnelly’s “Beware Of The Dogs” recorded live at Roskilde. Enjoy!

Concert Review: Tennis, Sharon Van Etten, July 31, Phoenix Concert Theatre

Posted on by Allison in Concerts | 1 Comment


Tennis is one of those bands that, like Best Coast, naturally lends itself to thoughts of catching waves, frizzante drinks, and summer. In Tennis’s case, the husband and wife duo of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore throw in a Cape-Coddish boating tinge to their music, and you can easily imagine yourself at the yacht club dance circa the early 1960’s.

In otherwords, I don’t think the latest accused Colorado mass-shooter was knocking back beers at the Hi-Dive watching this Denver-based duo perform.

I can only imagine their set started promptly at 9:00 because our arrival at 9:10 had them deeply entrenched at the end of a song. They quickly started into the much-loved Petition off their 2012 effort, Young & Old. They played for nearly an hour to a mostly empty venue, so I hope they experience fuller venues on this tour with Sharon Van Etten because their latest album is pretty much flawless. Yes, a lot of it is derivative from the environment and influences that berthed them into a band (listening to the Shirelles, sailing around through the Florida Keys–you can’t help but think this couple must be WASP-adventurer perfection), but none of that really matters. It’s fun to listen to–light and airy enough for a hot summer night.

Given the quality of their material, let’s hope their stage presence improves as they mature as performers. There was nothing wrong with their set perse–the songs were all harmonized in key, wife Alaina did a good job attempting at some audience interaction, and Patrick was appropriately crouched over his guitar looking a bit like an Altar Boy. Perhaps in the future we’ll see some variation from their studio recordings, and a bit less stiffness. Still, with an hour-long set, it’s hard to describe an opener of this caliber as anything less than agreeable.

3 out of 5


Sharon Van Etten

With respect to Miss Sharon Van Etten, she puts on a good show. All of the elements are here–the charming bashfulness, mild self-deprecation, beauty, talent, and engagement. Despite some weird projections of what appeared to be a group of people dancing around a maypole and underwater vacation footage of a scuba dive, her set was pretty much gripping from start to finish.

Being unfamiliar with her catalogue, I can only say that her music is good, her delivery is great, and her ability to establish a connection with an audience is superb. Much of this has to do with her great timing in cracking jokes (“I wrote this song for a hardcore Christian guy I used to date”). It’s the sort of thing that doesn’t translate very well into paper or punch, but the ensemble package of delivery is something memorable. The highlight of the show was when she started randomly taking requests and she rattled out one of her early songs effortlessly, alone, on some kind of squeeze-box instrument.

That’s the kind of concert moment where you can hear gulps from the audience, and as Martha Stewart would say,  it’s a good thing.

4 out of 5

Concert Review: Sharon Van Etten, February 21st, Lee’s Palace

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

It’s been a year and an album since Jersey singer songwriter Sharon Van Etten last graced our lovely city and judging by the sold out Lees Palace crowd, it’s fair to say her poignant songs of love and love lost has garnered her a lot of fans since she was at the Drake.

I had a hard time writing a proper and eloquent review, so here it is in blunt fashion.

Sharon Van Etten shows are great. She is arguably one of the funniest and most endearing performers I have seen, with her endless witty banters between songs and an easy go with the flow attitude. Case in point, for one of the tracks, the acoustic guitar wasn’t tuned properly or just didn’t sound right and instead of going off the rails like some artists would, she shrugged and was like “well, we’ll play an electric version instead!”. It’s refreshing to see someone take their craft seriously and not take themselves seriously. I have not listened to her new album Tramp very much so the show, which heavily featured material off the new album, was a bit of a journey for me. Still, the journey was rather familiar, Sharon laying her heart out for all to see splayed over gently layered music. There were also a few nice rock moments within the concert, including the set ending cover of the Soft Boys which let, if for a brief fleeting moment, Sharon assume the role of a rock and roll star, fronting a SVE/Shearwater rock band. It was a fun moment and a great way to end another night shared with Sharon.

Go see her if you can

Here are some tour dates:
Wed 02/22/12 – Montreal, QC @ Il Motore
Thu 02/23/12 – Boston, MA @ Paradise
Fri 02/24/12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sat 02/25/12 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Sun 02/26/12 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
Thu 03/01/12 – London, UK @ Cargo
Fri 03/02/12 – Paris, Fr @ Point Ephemere
Sat 03/03/12 – Brussels, BE @ Botanique – Rotonde
Sun 03/04/12 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
Tue 03/06/12 – Berlin, DE @ Gruener Salon
Wed 03/14/12 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
Thu 03/15/12 – Austin, TX @ SXSW

Concert Review: Sharon Van Etten, April 12, The Drake Hotel

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | 1 Comment

Toronto – “I Love Canada.”  So said Sharon Van Etten during her show at The Drake and she said it more than once.  It’s a sentiment echoed by many American musicians who come to our fair country, but Van Etten took it a step further, offering up her hand in marriage to anyone willing to give her citizenship while also relocating to New Jersey.  I’m sure there was many a concertgoer (myself included) who’d be willing to take her up on that offer.  A friend who was at the show put it best: “She’s so endearing.”  It’s true.  Sharon Van Etten will charm you.  Not only is she a great performer whose beautiful voice and strong songwriting are equally impressive, but her stage banter and personality really is so … endearing. 

For those not in the know, Van Etten plays a form of mellow (yet intense) and at times slightly sombre folk-rock, though more recently, she’s been augmenting the rock side of her sound slightly.  I remarked that if she actually were Canadian, the CBC would be all over her.

A few songs in, Van Etten invited a very pregnant Julie Fader onstage to sing harmonies on several songs.  At one point, Fader commented that this was the first time she’d seen Van Etten use a tuner onstage.  “Well, I turned 30,” replied Van Etten, adding that she’s trying to do other “adult” type things, like buying dresses (good ones, with pockets) and brushing her teeth regularly.  I can attest to the growing importance of dental care as one gets older.  I personally try to floss and stuff more often nowadays.  Plaque buildup is a bitch, I tell you. 

All in all, Sharon Van Etten put on a great show, highlighted by the songs off her latest release, Epic.  She also played a cover of late Texas singer-songwriter Blaze Foley’s “Oooh Love,” which she dedicated to anyone in the house with blue eyes.  This was the third time I’d seen Van Etten live and she seems to get better every time (although I did enjoy her SXSW set at the IFC House slightly more just because it was more intimate).  It’s pretty much guaranteed that I’ll see her every time she comes through town from now on. 

03 Save Yourself by GOLDSTARPR