Waxahatchee at Arts at the Armory: Event Review

Before opening up for Jenny Lewis next week, Waxahatchee is hitting up the northeast and performing at some quaint venues. Her stop in Somerville this past Thursday was at an ex-infantry and militia building that also housed the Massachusetts National Guard. Ten years ago it was restored to be an all-purpose local arts center and renamed Arts at the Armory. Opening act, Sam Cook-Parrott of Radiator Hospital remarked on the oddity of playing at such a peculiar venue: “I’ve never played in a room that used to store guns before.”

The first opener was Alison Crutchfield, who is the lead singer of Swearin’. She played new songs off her recent début, Lean In To It. Utilizing a keyboard with pre-set drum loops, GarageBand-level recording, and the help of Radiator Hospital on backup vocals and bass, Alison set the familiar tone of the evening. Making the night even more intimate, Katie Crutchfield is the lead singer of Waxahatchee, Alison’s twin sister. She played a short and sweet set, to which Radiator Hospital came back with a guitar and his adorable humor. Understanding the bizarre night between the venue, the heavy storm weather outside, or the fact that everyone was sitting on wooden foldout chairs, Radiator Hospital made everyone laugh and eased the crowd by finding comfort in their unusual circumstances. With a booming voice and his quirky guitar playing, Radiator Hospital commanded the presence of the audience and won over some new fans.

Waxahatchee looked as comfortable and confident as ever in a flowery dress. She sang quite a few new songs off her forthcoming album; some that were played on a piano, without reverb. She played with boyfriend and bassist of Swearin’, Keith Spencer. One of the most heartfelt moments of the night was when Alison joined her sister on stage to play a few songs together and harmonized. These moments were commanding and rather remarkable. It felt like we were in the Crutchfield’s living room watching the family play some songs for each other. It was a warming moment.

Waxahatchee played a very full set, equipped with a five-song encore, in which she performed some more new songs. Although I wish she had brought her sister on stage to perform, “Peace and Quiet,” she sounded really prepared and strong. It’s going to be just a matter of time before Jenny Lewis’ fans swoop up Waxahatchee.