Gallery: Sharon Van Etten at Point Ephémère
Sometimes when you see an artist perform, people often mention, “They looked so comfortable on stage.” Things like that expressing how at ease they feel. Friday night, the word ‘comfortable’ wouldn’t be able to encapsulate how Sharon was in front of a jam packed, hushed crowd for her first official concert in Paris (the previous being super tiny house show due to La Blogothèque). Point Ephémère is a medium-sized venue, kinda on the smaller side, but it could’ve been her Brooklyn apartment and the audience her longtime friends from forever and ever ago with her ease, jokes, and sheer performance. It whole heartily left a refreshing imprint, as the concert felt as intimate as playing guitar with your friends-minus the brilliant lighting rig you probably don’t have in your apartment.
I’m kicking myself for having to miss Sharon at der Rathskeller in Madison in the spring, but I feel slightly more resolved now. The evening was rather well balanced so close to the release of Tramp, with the evening opening up with “Warsaw” before dipping into Epic‘s “Peace Signs”. Her music holds this songwriter quality you’d expect in acoustic folk, the kind where electronic guitars seem blasphemous, but live-that feeling completely left me. It lends a level of reinforcement; a bite you could say that validates or illustrates the tales she tells. “Give Out,” later on in the set, was the perfect example as the lyrics jockey between heartwarming and heartbreakingly resolute that her stage presence solidifies that confidence in the decision “to leave.”
On stage, rarely will you find a musician like Sharon. The only other one that immediately comes to mind is Sam Amidon. She was relaxed, especially with the crowd; “You were in my English class and played violin wonderfully…and you didn’t make fun of me.” Introducing songs like “Kevin’s”, “This song is about trying to quit smoking, which is easy to do…not.” Or just random tidbits that some people could catch, others couldn’t, but just sweetness abound. “I bet you’re all wondering what this is. It’s called an omnichord. I’m still trying to figure it out.”
I’d like to say “Love More” and “Leonard” was the highlights, but that’d be a lie to me. The lead single of Tramp, “Serpents” is certainly one of the most powerful songs released this year. Live Friday night, it was exactly in the same vein as those moments when you’re trying to imagine what it was like back in the 70s when people ripped and roared through cables and amps. Exhilarating.
While Point Ephémère isn’t exactly Madison’s der Rathskeller with its twin fireplaces, coziness, and the distinct lack of German beer hall-ness, Sharon’s first concert in Paris could not have been better and as refreshing. The night had lightheartedness to the rushes of electric balanced by breathes of acoustic guitar. If you’re looking for versatility and virtuosity with a down-to-earth feel, you couldn’t get much better than Sharon Van Etten these days.
Don’t Do It
Joke or a Lie