Waxahatchee recently released their first album, Ivy Tripp, with Merge Records. It’s the third album overall. They opened their emotional set Wednesday night with the new album opener “Breathless.” The simple, droning keyboard notes echoed along the walls of the Sinclair with a cathartic anticipation. The band and the crowd stood with all eyes heavy on singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, ready to dive into her introspective songs. Since her bedroom-recorded debut album American Weekend, Crutchfield has built a devoted following with common narratives of feeling lost and dealing with life’s confusions. Filtered through her bold, forlorn voice—it’s powerful stuff.
So it was a bit upsetting when the live show didn’t stack up to the recordings. In depressing music, perhaps stage presence comes as a difficult task—with little movement on stage or interaction with the audience, the set felt stale and brief. On many songs, the band was fighting for tempo, and not in synch with the drummer. While “Breathless” introduced the night like the beginning of a booming voyage, the rest felt over-played, as though the band was just playing the songs to get them done. Great tracks from Cerulean Salt were incorporated with Katie’s twin sister Alison harmonizing. It was a perfect synergy at times reminiscent of the Deal sisters a la The Breeders. The songwriting is some of the best being made today, but missed it’s mark on stage.
Fellow Wichita Recording artists, Girlpool set the stage with humor and well-executed, awkward banter. With new album Before the World was Big coming out in a couple of weeks, their giddy enthusiasm charmingly rounded out their stage presence. Smooth bass riffs and plunky guitar notes added complexity of their shrill harmonies and shoe-gaze aesthetic. Highly tongue-in-cheek, duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker consistently touted “Go Red Sox” to ensure the crowd they were on their side.