Here and There Festival presents Quinn Christopherson, Lucy Dacus, and Courtney Barnett at The Midland
Here and There Festival
with Courtney Barnettt, Lucy Dacus, and Quinn Christopherson
The Midland Theatre
Monday, August 8
GRAMMY-nominated Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett has selected a rotating line-up for her U.S. tour that is decidedly queer. The Here and There Festival’s first stop at the Midland features Alaskan artist Quinn Christopherson, “Night Shift” singer Lucy Dacus, and, of course, Barnett.
Christopherson opens the evening with contagious energy. Since he won the 2019 NPR Tiny Desk Contest with his song “Erase Me,” which is about Christopherson’s experience with coming out as transgender, his songwriting abilities have been gaining traction.
Crowd favorite “2005” is Christopherson’s personal time capsule of Avril Lavigne and UGGs in a tune that’s simultaneously catchy and heartbreaking. Christopherson sings, “I was writing poems I thought no one would see / But my dad was going through my things.”
The theme of the night is definitely that of foot-thumping sad bois.
Lucy Dacus, who served as one of the judges for the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest, is up next.
She says that the venue is “what a theatre should look like,” with its gorgeous gold leaf detailing and crystal chandeliers. According to Dacus, her previous performance here is frozen deep in her memory as a moment when she knew she had made it.
Dacus’s “Christine” is a song with the ability to make you cry on your first listen, or your second—or your 50th. She recounts having a friend fall asleep on her shoulder as her friend’s boyfriend drives them home from a sermon.
“I see you look at him and wonder if he’ll make you a mother,” she sings softly.
This, like “Thumbs,” like “Triple Dog Dare,” like most Dacus songs, is so specific but so hauntingly relatable. Personal memories of excruciating “friendships” sharpen with each listen.
Dacus’ lyrics are tender like a purpling bruise, but her live performance has an undercurrent of strength flowing from the bassist. The drums are excellent but understated, but they have their moment during “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore.”
Dacus also clearly knows her audience. Before she launches into “Kissing Lessons,” she asks, “Who here is gay?” When hands shoot up into the air, she laughs and says, “Predictable. Here’s a little gay song.”
Her emotional support Hydroflask is her constant companion on stage. We applaud her hydration efforts. Perhaps her water drinking habits are why she’s able to cover Cher’s “Believe”—a song which, like, literally made auto-tune legitimate—without using the software at all. And Dacus’ version is pretty iconic in its own right.
Dacus delivers a sense of humor. After giving a shoutout to her cousin, she announces to the crowd that she’s going to shout out each and every one of us.
“Is there a Jack?” she asks, and a man to the left of the stage jumps up, waving his hand. “Thanks for coming,” she tells him. Then she leans into the mic and says, “Actually… I’m going to stop right there.”
Are you not rolling on the floor? Relax. It’s not Comedy Central, it’s a concert. But Dacus is someone you could grab a milkshake with to discuss your ex, and that’s good enough for us.
Similarly, Barnett seems like she could be the homie. Her voice is like wraparound porches, cornfields, iced tea in the summer, drive-in movies, egging your principal’s house and getting caught because it’s a small town. Her lighting is blue, her shadow cast on the white-and-gold theatre wall, hypnotically.
She earns extra points for using the word “lecherous” in “Need a Little Time” without sounding like a Charles Dickens novel.
She gains extra, extra points for being so versatile, having such a stage presence, and including so many sick guitar riffs in her songs. And, yeah, we’re tacking on points for her beautiful, subtle storytelling about her relationships with women.
Barnett has accomplished more for queer culture in one night than corporations did during the entire month of June.
All photos by Nick Spacek
Courtney Barnett setlist
Need a Little Time
Here’s the Thing
Walkin’ on Eggshells
If I Don’t Hear from You Tonight
Pedestrian at Best
Write a List of Things to Look Forward To
Oh the Night (with Quinn Christopherson)
Before You Gotta Go
Lucy Dacus setlist
Triple Dog Dare
Hot & Heavy
Partner in Crime
I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
Believe (Cher cover)