I often say that music is my church, but it’s less often that I can say it about music in a church. Saturday’s Courtney Barnett And Kurt Vile show was held in the Immanuel Presbyterian Church, a beautiful cathedral in the middle of Koreatown complete with chandeliers and stained glass. And though I felt a little strange chugging an $8 PBR in the vestibule, the venue was appropriate.
Rather like a sermon, there’s something about a Kurt Vile / Courtney Barnett collaboration that causes the world to make sense just a little bit, for just a moment. It’s simple, earnest, and completely uncalculated: two immense talents who are friends and mutual admirers first, a rarity that shines through in the joy of their music.
Jen Cloher, who is also Courtney Barnett’s partner, opened the show. Her acoustic performance and easy presence set the stage for an intimate evening. Courtney and Kurt came on and opened with Over Everything, the first single from their new collaboration album, Lotta Sea Lice, and the notes reverberated through the vaulted ceilings, signaling a night to remember.
The album artwork and press for Lotta Sea Lice takes great care to make sure that neither artist gets more weight in the pair than the other; even their drum kit emblem has a clean line down the middle – the initials CB on one side, KV on the other. And the music bears out this equal partnership. Each song is a conversation between two friends, and they each bring their unique perspectives to bear both lyrically and instrumentally.
Watching Courtney and Kurt play together onstage can only be described as timeless alchemy, a whimsical, twangy rock n’ roll to unite generations.
The set list compiled cuts from the new album, renditions of Kurt and Courtney’s solo work, and a few covers for good measure (their tender encore performance of Gillian Welch’s Elvis Presley Blues was a highlight of the show), and the evening ended in a standing ovation.