Natalie Prass

Cheer Up Charlie's, Austin TX, March 17

Natalie PrassCheer Up Charlie's, Austin TX, March 17
Photo: Ellie Pritts
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"Okay I guess we're ready!" shrugged Natalie Prass from the stage after troubleshooting her Wurlitzer and finding that, due to technical difficulties, it probably wasn't going to feature in the show. It was the first of many snafus in their set, but Prass is a seasoned professional, and let it roll off her back to deliver an impressive set.
 
She opened with "Your Fool," the first sign that Prass' relatively quiet songs would find new life in a live setting, as her extra guitarist added flourishes in the song's breaks. Prass' voice, too, is less reserved live than it is on her self-titled record, shaking any notion that the noise from the rock band at the venue next door might overpower her performance.
 
"I'm definitely getting dripped on by something here," she noted of Cheer Up Charlie's' leaky roof as the band launched into a slightly faster version of "Bird of Prey" that, without it's lounge-y sway, lent a little more urgency to the chorus accusation, "You are a bird of prey." After "Never Over You," Prass climbed the venue ledge and stood there looking longing for the fairy tale-esque "Is It You," a charming song that is just as jarring amongst her live setlist as in the context of the record; the whimsy of it seems antithetical to her lounge-y '70s rock sound, and yet it's so pretty that it inarguably deserves play and, by extension, the much-debated last spot on her album.
 
Throughout the night, the audible buzzing that affected the Wurlitzer seemed to put Prass at ease. Perhaps because the unfortunate sound already meant the band had to improvise a little (and all of the players were excellent), they were already in a mood to take things as they came and accept the consequences, so there was a feeling of intimacy and camaraderie between Prass and the crowd as she laughed, talked about her new shoes (on which she spent "more than $20") and introduced the band.
 
Album centrepiece "Violently" featured a riffy breakdown to end the show on a perfect note, and though she apologized once more for a lack of Wurlitzer, which cut the set short by a song or two, Prass was onstage long enough to prove that she's not just an excellent songwriter, but an engaging performer.
 
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