By Will Bateman (@WillBateman6611)
10.6.15 Electric Ballroom, Camden
Katie Crutchfield makes a rare UK appearance, her largest to date, in Camden’s iconic Electric Ballroom, alongside support from Girlpool and PINKWASH. For many fans it’s been a long time coming and she doesn’t disappoint with her personal blend of delicate indie melodies and fuller punk sound, bridging similarities with her twin sister Alison’s band Swearin’, who joins her on stage on backing vocals and guitar. There’s an atmosphere of triumph surrounding Katie tonight; backed by a full band and with an extensive catalogue to pick from after April’s release of album three Ivy Tripp, she’s come a long way from home in Waxahatchee Creek, Alabama.
The majority of the set shows the progression from her debut 2013 release American Weekend, the fragile, lo-fi, break-up album consisting of achingly vulnerable vocals and simplistic guitar/piano accompaniment. Four guitars on stage make an easy job of bringing that louder, fuzzy, Ivy Tripp sound to the Ballroom, introducing new tracks like ‘Under A Rock’ and ‘The Dirt’, while Cerulean Salt’s ‘Lips and Limbs’ and ‘Lively’ keep in style with a grungy reworking from their polished indie-pop beginnings. Her unassuming, charismatic vocal that made American Weekend (and all subsequent releases) so engaging is buoyant in the new-found noise, showing Katie’s versatility between aggressive, punk defiance and composed melodic subtlety.
As enjoyable as it is to see Crutchfield, her sister and her band humbled by the encouraging response to their new music, it is Katie’s encore performance that steals the show. As she takes the spotlight with her guitar, just as when she began her career, the venue is painfully silent for ‘Grass Stain’, ‘Summer of Love’, ‘Swan Dive’ and ‘Noccalula’. Waxahatchee is one of those frustrating artists for fans, wishing her success and exposure but maintaining the fear that larger venues have the potential to take away from this touching, connecting experience that her performances become. It’s this which separates her, displaying best her unique and unflinching honesty and vulnerability.