In the days before the world was forced to essentially shut down as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Ali Barter played one of her last North American shows in Toronto at the Drake Underground. I believe she managed to play a couple more shows after Toronto before heading back home to Australia.
As of March 9th, her SXSW shows had been canceled, and the writing was on the wall for cutting her tour short in the wake of growing concerns over global health and safety. Many of her 2020 dates were rescheduled shows from November 2019; those original dates all having to be rescheduled over delays securing touring visas.
Nobody had any idea the world was going to change over the week following this Drake Underground concert. I certainly had no idea Barter’s show was going to be my last live show for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, it was a great one.
I was sent a few Ali Barter songs to check out in October of last year with a short descriptor along with comparisons to Liz Phair and Juliana Hatfield. After listening to Barter’s songs “Ur A Piece Of Shit” and “Backseat,” I knew I wanted to see her live, and that I’d likely enjoy the rest of her material. She writes cheeky, intelligent, well-crafted songs about an assortment of topics.
Barter went on promptly at 8 pm and performed for about an hour, touching on material from her two albums and debut EP. Barter performed as part of a four-piece band this evening, doing all but one song in this fashion. She treated Toronto to killer versions of tracks like “Ur A Piece Of Shit” and “Backseat.” She performed “January” solo acoustic midway through her show, and finished off with “Girly Bits.” Barter displayed excellent vocal range this evening, livening up her performance with some candid banter about Australian supply chains dwindling around COVID-19; “We’re running out of bum-wipe, how about you?”
As soon as she finished playing “Girly Bits,” Barter walked to the back of the venue and sold albums and CDs to attendees, taking the time to autograph them for anyone who wanted her signature. Hopefully, when she returns, there will be less mania around public gatherings, and more people can then be captivated by her excellent stage presence.