October 26, 2021

Lucy Dacus played Brooklyn Steel

Lucy Dacus returned to Brooklyn for the first of three sold-out headlining shows in support of this year's wonderful Home Video. Bartees Strange opened.

Taking the stage promptly at 8:00 PM, Bartees Strange wasted no time crushing through his opening set which was largely comprised of songs off of last year's great record, Live Forever. His tunes are high impact and high energy and with a solid backing band, it was clear that Bartees had been harnessing the energy from this past year and was ready to let loose on stage. At one point, I had to think to myself, "does he know he's not the headliner here?" He was non-stop action for his entire 30 minute set and spent time rushing around the stage jumping through the air and unleashing some high kicks along the way. His take on indie rock pushes the genre's limits and with that, he makes something totally his own. His vocals at times recall Kele Okereke of Bloc Party and his angular guitars meet up with shocking synths to give him sharp textures and lightning fast melodies that make sure the party never stops. "Mustang" was high velocity with a cruising guitar riff and new song "Weights" also brought the heat. His cover of the National's "Lemon World" was a fun addition to his excellent originals and his unique take on the track was a perfect fit to his set. He's already playing a set that would easily fit the bill of a main stage festival performance or a headlining slot at this same venue, so it'll be a wonder to watch him progress over time and draw a crowd that can handle what he brings to the table. For now, he's not one to miss on the small scale so you can be there to say you saw him way back when.

Even with a triumphant opening act the night clearly belonged to Lucy Dacus and she relished in every moment of the evening. It's always great to see an artist get their due and this is exactly what has happened for Dacus. In 2018, she was the first on the bill for sold-out shows with her friends Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker at this same venue and pre-pandemic, I caught her as one of the first acts of the day at Primavera Sound in Barcelona. This week, she has three sold-out nights at the venue where she's been regulated to opening duty a few times prior. Now, however, with the release of her fantastic new record Home Video, she's entered the spotlight and proving that not only has she earned it, but she is ready to seize the moment. Wrapping up seven weeks of tour is a rather demanding task, but seeing her on stage made it seem like it could've been night one as the energy and caliber of the performance were top notch with no signs of slowing down. The crowd also spent the entire night in the palm of Dacus' hand as they sang along to nearly every word with resounding force. It's been so long since I've heard a crowd echo back the lyrics to every song with such fiery passion, but it was instantly clear that people have been waiting a long time for this moment and they weren't going to let a single second pass without showering Dacus with endless praise and support. Sticking mostly to the newest stuff (she played all but one from the new album), there were a sprinkling of older tracks woven into the set and while they got some of the loudest cheers, the new ones felt just as relevant and meaningful to the crowd as the ones that date back furthest in her career. She opened with "Triple Dog Dare," a rare move where the closing track of an album is played first, and set the tone for the night. "VBS" was an early highlight and the sudden burst of distorted guitar felt as massive in-person as it has on home speakers and clearly lived up to the hype so many have been dreaming of since first hitting play earlier this year. "Brando," "Hot & Heavy," and "Addictions" were all strong numbers as was her striking and upbeat cover of Edith Piaf's longtime classic "Le Vie en Rose," but as she made her way towards the end of the evening, it was a particularly delicate and graceful "Thumbs" which really showcased her impeccable talents. Her lone voice over a very subtle, tranquil reverb of synth made for one of the most vulnerable and intimate moments of the night, everyone in the crowd hanging on each syllable and with a slight tear in their eye. Her pronunciation of the word "burst" in this track may be of the my favorite musical moments of the year and I was fearful as to how it could sound live if not mic'd properly. Luckily (and obviously), it did not disappoint. Everything culminated with the stunning closer of "Night Shift" and this was when she let everything rip and sung the absolute hell out of it while shredding away on her guitar. It was without a doubt her rockstar moment and hearing the reaction of the crowd won't be something anyone in attendance will soon forget. She left the stage briefly (with just enough time to spill tea all over herself she mentioned) and returned alone. She quickly clutched an acoustic guitar and asked "was anyone at shows when I played 'Thumbs' before the album came out? Ok, I'm going to do that again and ask that no one records this. I kinda trust you all, but if you see someone recording it, be mean to them so they stop." What came next was an incredibly tender and soft acoustic number about a New Year's Eve spent in Brooklyn with a shoutout to the Williamsburg Bridge and an LCD Soundsystem reference. Everyone lost it for each mention of the city, a final goosebump moment and a stellar end to a magnificent evening.

Set list:

01 "Triple Dog Dare"
02 "First Time"
03 "Addictions"
04 "Hot & Heavy"
05 "Christine"
06 "VBS"
07 "Cartwheel"
08 "La vie en rose" [Édith Piaf cover]
09 "Nonbeliever"
10 "Yours & Mine"
11 "Partner in Crime"
12 "Brando"
13 "Thumbs"
14 "Going Going Gone" [with Bartees Strange]
15 "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore"
16 "Night Shift"
17 New song

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