Words By Morgan Fecto, Photos By Ryan Kelly
Sharon Van Etten and Jana Hunter at 930 Club last night filled the venue with humor, good-sad tunes, and let’s face it, class out the ass.
When I was on the floor of the bathroom, charging my phone, I heard Hunter start her set and thought to myself, “Oh, it’s just some Chrissie Hynde sounding broad with a guitar.” I didn’t realize until I got up and peeled the paper towels off my upper thighs that she is far more multi-faceted (and multi-plugged.) Sitting on a stool with a guitar on her lap and a laptop at her side, Hunter probably seemed like some filmmaker’s ideal of what the uber intimate singer-songwriter looks like in their future reality (I’m looking at you, Spike Jonze,) but she sounded nothing like this new cliche. She opened her set with a rich, eerie cover of “Maneater” and continued with new songs from her band Lower Dens. Everything she played made me want to drive through the twilight with Ryan Gosling and his stab wound, or marionette Bernie’s dead corpse to the synthy sounds– the perfect combo of impending doom and 80’s throwback. And she did it all while sipping a glass of red wine.
Hunter’s set made me long for an alternate reality where I’m in movies, sure, but SVE’s set hit me in a special, nostalgic sweet spot. When I was young enough to not have control over the radio, my parents begrudgingly listened to “Alice,” a radio station that played exclusively Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morrissette and (unfortunately) Tracy Bonham, because there was a drought in “good rock stations” at the time. To my mother, this meant stations that exclusively played Godsmack, but I digress. SVE sounds like an updated version of those jazzy, disgruntled songstresses with a dash of 70’s folk and an organ. She played new songs like “Taking Chances,” the single off her most recent album “Are We There,” with the same entrancing warble she gave to her old standards, like “Don’t Do It.” With this latter track especially, she totally engrossed her audience with the unrequited love story it tells. She might as well have kicked Dave Coulier in the crotch while ribbon dancing on the stage. After she finished, someone yelled out, “You’re really good!” so SVE asked the audience to shout their favorite adjective. “Sexpocket? That’s not even an adjective,” she protested. When two audience members started arguing near the front, SVE referenced Seinfeld: “Stop fighting! We live in a society.” The guy behind me creamed: “Now I really love her. She’s perfect.” A rapport with her audience and stellar indie folk? He ain’t lying.