SAN FRANCISCO — In a seemingly lonely world of crippling isolation, Sharon Van Etten provided hope for healing and growth when she performed on a rainy Monday night at the Gundlach Bundschu Winery’s Historic Redwood Barn.
The New Jersey singer-songwriter and her band launched into ecstatic optimism with “Jupiter 4″ before moving seamlessly into the indie pop extravaganza that is “Comeback Kid.” She seemed at home strumming her guitar while dancing and grooving in her vulnerable demeanor as cuts like “Seventeen” and “You Shadow” reached full volume. The stage lighting had a vintage old folksy style you might see on a picture-perfect Pinterest wedding, complementing Van Etten’s bare-bones songwriting style.
Van Etten’s modest but dry humor acted as a counterweight to her otherwise deeply sensitive performance. While the set leaned heavily on Remind Me Later, she shared older tunes like “One Day” and “Tarifa,” as well as “Every Time the Sun Comes Up,” from 2014’s Are We There. But it was the sweetly disarming cover of Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys on Mopeds” that really impressed. Van Etten dedicated the song to her son, who she hadn’t seen in two weeks. She then dove into the heavier side of the new record with the unhinged and unfiltered “Hands.”
Sharon Van Etten blended older songs with newer ones like the synth-heavy “Malibu” and the Portishead-influenced “Memorial Day.” It was this confident and stoic personality that came from a woman with a new lease on life, even without mentioning the specifics.
Her encore managed to amp up the energy even more with “Serpents,” from 2012’s Tramp—as well as “Love More,” from 2010’s Epic. These were the perfect conclusion to a night that slowly, impeccably, drifted off to the sound of torrential downpour from outside the Sonoma barn doors.
London’s Nilüfer Yanya opened the night in a shimmery silver & gold jacket. It was appropriate garb, considering her musical influences from the likes of Goldfrapp and Memoryhouse. Yanya gently launched into “Melt,” one of the newer tracks off her forthcoming record, Miss Universe. Her vocals were soothing alongside some saxophone licks on songs like “Safety Net” and “Heavyweight Champion Of The Year.”