Seeing Katie Crutchfield perform live might make you fall in love with her immediately. Although her lo-fi recordings are just as powerful, there’s something about hearing her croon her devastatingly raw, honest lyrics in person that can’t compare to at-home listening. The Birmingham, Alabama native has been hard at work crafting indie punk jams since her teens, notably pop-punk band P.S. Eliot with her twin sister Allison. After P.S. Eliot called it quits in 2011, Katie went on to form her solo project, Waxahatchee. Debut album American Weekend was a bedroom project of my dreams, featuring Katie’s quiet, fuzzy voice soothing your ears with candid stories of her life on the road. Now joined by a full band, Katie’s on tour promoting her latest, equally strong LP Cerulean Salt. I’ve seen Katie perform too many times to count, but I was lucky enough to catch this past Thursday’s show at 285 Kent, where she turned up the volume with Keith Spencer on drums and Kyle Gilbride bringing the bass.
Waxahatchee began the set with the opener from Cerulean Salt, “Hollow Bedroom,” a soft, slow confessional starring just Katie’s vocals and guitar. “Be Good” came a little later, a stand-out track from the first Waxahatchee album. Over the catchy riffs and steady drums, we can barely makeout Katie’s inner dialogue, “You don’t wanna be my boyfriend/ And that’s probably for the best/ Because that, that gets messy/ Or you will hurt me/ Or I’ll disappear.” It’s clear that Crutchfield’s relatability is part of what makes people love her music. It’s no wonder she has a tattoo of “The Execution of All Things” on her arm.
Next up was the bass-heavy “Brother Bryan,” a reflection on a friendship that paints a vivd portrait of memories in classic Crutchfield fashion (see: “Catfish”). Katie then traded her guitar for a beer when the band covered Journey’s “Every Generation,” which fit in well as she roamed the stage, wailing out the chorus with gusto. One of the best parts of the night came with “Peace and Quiet,” which begins with Katie cooing and a simple strum of the guitar. Crutchfield shows off her lyrical genius in this one, with the heartbreaking lines, “Some cosmetic illusion, you’ll rest your callow bones/ And blame my hardworkin’ father, for harm you cannot atone.” Shivers.
“Magic City Wholesale,” another from American Weekend, reveals Crutchfield’s anxieties while meeting a stranger on the road. Katie’s deep voice rumbles with the booming guitar and kick drum over “Waiting,” a song off Cerulean Salt about ending a volatile relationship. The title track of American Weekend, one of the last performed, was incredibly worth the wait. I get chills whenever I hear Katie’s short and not-so-sweetness, like when with quiet defiance she sings, “We degrade ourselves/ And then expect help.”
Pick up Cerulean Salt right over here from Don Giovanni Records or at a Waxahatchee show! (Where I snagged the vinyl for 10 bucks + free digital download!) And even better yet, if you go to a Waxahatchee show BUST-y lady Katie will probably be selling her zines, where she tackles relevant issues involving feminism in the punk scene today. She even contributes to International Girl Gang Underground! A woman after my own heart. We love you, Waxahatchee!
Images via Don Giovanni Records, Spin, and the author herself