There is a lot to be said for sticking to your strengths. Katie Crutchfield was at her bare, emotional best at the Button Factory on Saturday, but only for three songs; the only point at which she took to the stage without her backing band.
For the majority of the evening Waxahatchee played a solid set of succinct alt-rock songs, and a lightweight and docile crowd at the Button Factory swayed along. Satisfaction seemed to be at a solid medium, though it was difficult to tell as the crowd was unresponsive for the most part.
The band performed well, but there was little to really set them apart from their peers, and no song for the first half an hour of the set truly stood out. Power chords grew repetitive, and difficulties with the sound made it tough for Crutchfield’s vocals to truly resonate and leave an impression.
They started out brightly with the short but sweet Under A Rock from her most recent release ‘Ivy Tripp’. It is a traditional alt-rock song, but it has Crutchfield’s persona stamped all over it, adding effortless charm.
This was followed by a couple of cuts from 2013’s ‘Cerulean Salt’, Misery Over Dispute and Waiting; both of which clocking in at under two minutes. This set a pattern for the first half of the evening that would grow tiresome quickly, as the charm seeped out by the gallon as similar song after similar song carried on.
Crutchfield herself cut a fine figure for the entirety of the show, emerging every now and then between two backing lights that shone at the audience; almost celestial. She appears to be one of these people that is just effortlessly cool, clad in a sleeveless top that reveals that reveals an indistinguishable tattoo.
One of her only interjections between songs was to express gratitude for the audience maintaining silence throughout the quieter parts of the set; though it is yet to be confirmed whether or not a majority of them were in fact medically dead, zombies frozen into a shrug of ambivalence; a possibility which would take most of the weight out of this accomplishment.
Thankfully the band save the stronger, more distinctive songs for the latter half of the show. Air seeps in with memorable lyrics like “I left you out like a carton of milk” and a resounding chorus amidst a flurry of “ooos” . ‘Ivy Tripp’ highlight La Loose tries to liven things up, but the electronic keyboard sound and beat of the record are not as effective live. They are, however, a pair of songs that exhibit the versatility and character that had been missing from the first half of the show.
The power of Crutchfield’s three song solo berth at the encore only serves as a reminder of what we had been missing; a truly distinctive, powerful musical performance. At the heart of this is I Think I Love You, a raw and heartbreaking lament on unrequited love, a song that would be sure to silence much rowdier audiences than the one she had in front of her on this occasion.