Sharon Van Etten - Turner Hall - Milwaukee, WI
About a quarter of the crowd left after the opening band, Tennis, played their set. Unfortunately for them, they missed a captivating and compelling show by Sharon Van Etten, Thursday night at Milwaukee’s Turner Ballroom. Tennis commented that only 200 tickets were sold during the pre-sale, in contrast to Van Etten who exclaimed “Milwaukee came out tonight” when she walked out. My introduction to her music is her latest release Tramp, a beautiful sounding record, but one that did not quite convert me fully as a fan. My initial preconception of her music changed the moment she took the stage. She immediately took command of the room, mesmerizing the audience through her incredible vocal and instrumental talent. Van Etten is truly a fresh face in the singer-songwriter genre. She had the crowd entranced and she knew it. She has cultivated a strong relationship with her audience, a captive and adoring public. The crowd was immersed with attention Thursday, as she focused on material from Tramp. Opener “All I Can” started slow and dark, a little angry and edgy. Gradually, the music grew denser, slowly building, full of intensity engrossing the audience and longtime adoring fans for her performance. That was it. Those who stayed were there to the end. Ballads like “Leonard” put the listener in a trance, with haunting sparse instrumentation, emotional vocals and off kilter harmonies. While the concert was all business, between songs was filled with playful banter and storytelling. At the end of the night, she had a new fan. By the look of the crowd and the crowds at the merch table, Van Etten gained many new fans from Milwaukee and the surrounding environs.