Brooklynite Sharon Van Etten played the second of two sold-out nights at the Independent in San Francisco on June 30th, in support of her new record, Are We There. (Also for sale at the merch table, according to Van Etten: Tissues with her face on them, and umbrellas). Van Etten’s music remains consistently good-to-outstanding, and–having seen her a few times over the past few years–her stage presence has really caught up to her music. Throughout the night she was conversational, funny, and downright charming, and claimed to be attempting to reign in her dry east coast wit for what she deemed a non-dry SF crowd. Random revalations from SVE: She was sporting a sandal tan (“Thanks, San Francisco”), she forgets the words to her mom’s favorite one of her songs, and she responds with a maternal aggressiveness when someone calls guitarist Doug Keith a pretty boy (“You call him doe-eyed splendor!”). Also, her dry wit shone in the intro to the song “Leonard” (paraphrasing): “I changed the name so the guy it’s about wouldn’t know it was about him. I think he knows it’s about him. His name’s Bleonard.”
Also, “Serpents” is an incredibly fantastic song.
In addition to Van Etten’s sublime set, an added treat was opener Jana Hunter of Lower Dens trying out some spooky new tunes, along with a cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater.”