Waxahatchee @ Oxford Art Factory

Alabama-born Katie Crutchfield, the driving force behind Waxahatchee, is by no doubt an incredibly talented and versatile singer-songwriter. Her aptitudes for music have seen release dozens of singles, demos, digital downloads and everything in-between since she was 14, and also feature in a two-piece pop punk band with her sister Alison called P.S Eliot. As one of the most notable indie folk-rock singers in Philadelphia, and success quickly spanning globally, there’s no surprise Crutchfield was returning to Australia for a three-date tour of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Last night Waxahatchee starred at Oxford Art Factory for the second date and although it was a good show, it left a little to be desired.

At 10.30 Katie Crutchfield took the stage with her three-piece band, looking incredibly humble and appreciative to be in Australia. Little pieces of dialogue like ‘it’s really amazing to be back here in Sydney…It’s been a really sad six months without you’ brought up the mood, although this was an audience who took a while to get warmed up. Despite being in a room of obvious fans, there was minimal movement from most of the audience – enjoying the performance, but not necessarily interacting with Crutchfield and co; polite clapping and the occasional cheering towards the end were more their style but it all felt a little flat. The night was a slow burn that took a while to warm up but by the end it was worth it.

Waxahatchee performed a nicely rounded set list of indie rock tunes mixed in with more grunge style ones. Waiting highlighted Crutchfield and her sister’s angelic harmonies, Grey Hair saw the strength in her vocals shine and Air, the song Waxahatchee apparently had a hard time with the night before in Perth, was delicate in all the right ways. All the talent in the world was there, but the performances were missing that spark.

There were a few very minor technical difficulties, such as changeover of gear in-between songs but that was barely noticeable. The only thing that could’ve been improved was the mixing of a few songs. The Dirtfeatured a full-bodied sound, loud crashing drums and a nice steady rhythm but the vocals were barely heard towards the back of the room. Silver Spoon was similar, showcasing Crutchfield’s beautiful vocals ringing true in the verses but getting lost in the other instruments during the big choruses.

Brother Bryan was sweetly dedicated to fellow support band Infinite Void, as Waxahatchee reminisced a little punk tour they did with them in the States. Closing following was Less Than, a turning point in the show where Waxahatchee’s performances started growing bigger and stronger – pulling up the audience with them. The mellow sounds of Less Than saw everyone sink into a comfortable groove, with a killer heavy section towards the end of the song.

Grass Stain kicked it up a notch and had a dynamic energy previously missing from the set, Peace and Quiet followed, and the band eventually finished on American Weekend complete with grunge-y guitar riffs. These songs proved to be Waxahatchee’s most engaging of the night, encouraging fans to get up, get moving and get loud. An encore of three acoustic folk songs by Crutchfield alone ended the night on a high, as her crystal clear vocals finally had time to shine.

Set List:
Under A Rock
Misery/Dispute
Waiting
The Dirt
Lively
Brother Bryan
Grey Hair
Less Than
Lips And Limbs
Air
Poison    
La Loose
Coast To Coast
Grass Stain
Peace And Quiet
American Weekend

Encore:
Swan Dive
Bathtub
Summer Of Love