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Waxahatchee Brings 'Storm' to L.A. Show

Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee
David A. Smith/Getty Images

Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee on March 19, 2017.

Waxahatchee almost didn’t make it to their show at Los Angeles’ Regent Theater on Saturday night. “Our van broke down today,” singer Katie Crutchfield explained to the crowd. “We were stranded on the side of the road. The transmission of our van is completely f--ked.”

The car problems had resulted in all of the set times being delayed by an hour, and Waxahatchee didn’t arrive onstage until about 11:30 p.m. Nevertheless, they were greeted by an eager, patient audience, who had crowded into the packed DTLA venue.

On tour in support of stellar new album Out in the Storm, Waxahatchee’s most fully realized and mature album to date, the outfit performed several songs from that recent LP, beginning with “Recite Remorse,” an initially hushed song with a brilliant piano intro, which ultimately gives way to the band’s earlier punk sensibilities, as the drums kick in after nearly three minutes. The lyrics, too, are reflective (“I was shaking like a leaf / I was clenching my fists / I was losing my mind”) before giving way to the ultimate release (“I was halfway out the door”).

Out in the Storm has been described as a breakup album, a meditation on a failed relationship, and Waxahatchee’s popularity is partly attributable to Crutchfield’s gifted ability to write relatable, honest lyrics. For instance, “Silver,” reminiscent of ’90s indie rock, contains the lyric from which the new album takes its name: “I went out in the storm/ And I’m never returning.” It perfectly encapsulates the feeling of braving a storm — or, in this case, a troubled relationship — enduring whatever damage it might bring and seeing who and where one is in the aftermath.

For the longtime fans, the band delved into their back catalog, with “Misery Over Dispute” (2013’s Cerulean Salt) and “The Dirt” (2015’s Ivy Tripp) -- both of which, at only two minutes, were quick jolts of punk-inspired energy. Before segueing to a slower number, Crutchfield joked, “I was about to say that we’re going to shift gears now, but that’s kind of a sore subject for us, you know?” The comment elicited laughs, a brief moment of levity, before the group tore into “Sparks Fly,” a gorgeous song about self-realization (“I'll leave it all behind / See myself clearly for the first time”).

The band effortlessly moved from fast-paced rock numbers to quieter piano melodies, each one sounding pitch perfect. And whether backed by loud drumming and guitars or piano keys, Crutchfield’s strong voice shone through. “I like [my songs] to move around a lot, for one to sound super-folky and then the next one to sound like a ’90s indie-rock song,” she has said. “That’s where I feel the most comfortable, keeping it open.")

As the night neared its conclusion, Waxahatchee reappeared for a three-song encore, and Crutchfield thanked the enthusiastic audience. “We’ll do a few more,” she said with a smile. “It’s Saturday night.” The encore began with “La Loose,” whose live version was a more subdued variation of the studio track, which is accentuated by a synth beat. The song featured Crutchfield’s musician twin sister, Allison, who provided lovely backing vocals and harmonizing throughout the night, in addition to playing the keyboard and guitar.

After performing the beautiful Out in the Storm track “Fade,” which reflects on how a relationship can change who you are (“For three years shedding my skin / Dreaming about the potential / The person I could have been”), Waxahatchee concluded on a more upbeat note with “Under a Rock.” The Ivy Tripp track is a perfect illustration of Waxahatchee’s talents: the declarative intro (“Maybe you got your head caught in a ditch last night”) that gives way to an explosion of guitars and drumming, highlighted by a soaring chorus and smart lyrics (“Maybe I let on that I was interested / In your brand of lonely”), with everything punctuated by the repetition of the noncommittal word “maybe.” It had the audience dancing to the show’s conclusion, at almost 1 a.m., and thankful to share in the “storm” of Waxahatchee’s music.

Set List:

Recite Remorse
Silver
Poison
Misery Over Dispute
The Dirt
Sparks Fly
8 Ball
Brother Bryan
Lively
Never Been Wrong
Hear You
Air
Waiting
Coast to Coast
Brass Beam
A Little More
No Question
Peace and Quiet

Encore:

La Loose
Fade
Under a Rock

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