Charlie Havenick live review — folk, shoegaze aesthetics rage against orchestral sincerity
Written by Ayush Varadhan on February 21, 2023
Charlie Havenick’s music is like….rain on a blue tarp. A dog blissed out in a patch of sunlight. Like the sweetest part of a Justine Kurland photo. If I could, I’d smuggle Charlie’s music into every memory I have of driving up the Washington coast with my dad. I want her songs sewn through the things I love, the things that bite my tail and rough me up too–how she sings on Slide, “This is my home, try to remove me…I want it all, even the bad parts”. I want to keep feeling that kind of love, that beautiful ache, and mythic yearning.
I feel it, strong and true, when I listen to Charlie.
Last year, I remember hearing Charlie play an early version of Sprinkler Song, and turning to my friend Karina awestruck and wet-eyed. Even stripped-back, it was an endearing, wistful ode to her hometown in the port of LA, and it found me right when I was missing home the most. Each verse glimmers with an image of Charlie’s home so intimately hers, and yet, true to anyone’s. The dog that barks when only you walk by. The kite that’s always caught between branches. The kid in you, that walks around within you.
Charlie’s voice tugged at the kid in me that night.
I jokingly messaged Charlie this winter, “driving home listening to Sprinkler Song, looking out the window at every soft turn. In My Own Private Charlie Movie”, but really, I meant every word. Her song was a quilt thrown over me, sitting backseat. Charlie’s lyrics are so lovingly held by her voice, easy and rowdy as it spills out. Honest, how paper tears by hand, and the raw hem of it is soft–and that surprises you.
As we drove past the house I grew up in, the drums rolled in, and the distortion blurred against the lick of the pedal steel. Charlie’s song was a soft sling around that fractured place.
I couldn’t help but see those memories in a supercut during her show at the Moroccan Lounge this January. Charlie and her all-star band played to a crowd who sang the lyrics back. We were all swaying and humming through it. I felt my spirit tilted in me, brushing against my chest. There was a moment when a spotlight haloed Charlie’s head as she sang “…here’s our rut, good thing we’re friends”, off of her song Rut. That bright alchemy tousled us. Somehow, Charlie made a gauzy home out of that stage. Her bandmates were grinning at one another as they played. There was so much love during Charlie’s set…seeing her wield a baton, LARPing conductor, spinning out a trumpet for an interlude. I’d only experienced that joy and earnestness when I saw Black Country, New Road play. It is real and brimming at the seams of Charlie’s music.
Watching her play reminded me of why I want to make music. Charlie is a powerful storyteller. Be it in a backyard, on top of a parking garage, or on stage at the Moroccan, whenever I listen to her, I feel the warmth of a campfire around me. I feel the worry in me dislodge itself and tuck beneath the good.
Right now, there are hardened sailors out on the Pacific, holding one another in a circle, singing a Charlie Havenick song.
Photos by Paul Ajodha, Anni Spacek, and Moroccan Lounge