On Saturday evening, Big Thief put on one of the most memorable shows I have ever attended. Throughout the set, Adrianne Lenker was speaking to the crowd with the bare vulnerability reserved for old friends and therapists. She disclosed how she has been having trouble being on the road. It puts her in a strange head space. When she would forget the words, she would simply laugh and ask the crowd if they could help her out.
The raw humanity of the band reverberated through their set, which felt less like a staged performance than it did a quiet moment in a living room. Their shows bring to mind the moment when a friend shows you something they've written, when it has yet to be fully actualized. This aspect of their performance is what I look forward to most in a Big Thief show. The band previews songs that are in their first stages of life. Being exposed to the skeletons of songs is a rare practice with established bands. Yet, Lenker entrusts us with entry into her world through her creative process. To connect in such a way is remarkable, and is the main reason I love the band.
There were dialogues contained within songs. And even songs within songs. During Mary, a song that acts as a reflection upon the fragile moments of life, Adrianne told the crowd that she would be playing a song written by Mary herself. Then, addressing her, said that she hoped she would play it right.
This moment, was probably one of the most mesmerizing live-show experiences. You could see that bassist, Max Oleartchik, and drummer, James Krivchenia, were sorting it out as they went along. Their eyes fixated on the position of Adrianne's hands, tentatively, they put together a cohesive performance. It was all very spur-of-the-moment and honest. Drawing from their folk-influences, Big Thief taps into the expansive magic of improvisational interludes. It is impossible not to be drawn in by the swirling, underlying frenetic energy of Big Thief, both live and in their aptly named albums, Masterpiece and Capacity. They are one of the great bands of our time.
Opener and Virginia-native, Lucy Dacus, put on a kick-ass show as always. She has a voice that consistently gives me chills and demands my attention. Unfortunately, I missed Molly Sarle. However, I've been revisiting Mountain Man as a way of making up for it until she releases her own music.
The next stops on tour will be Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY (9/11 + 9/12) and Gateway City Arts in Holyoke, MA.
(Photo Squiggles by: Ana Vlajnic)