July 22, 2022

Lucy Dacus played Central Park's Summerstage

Debilitating heat couldn't stop Lucy Dacus from bringing her hits to a devoted crowd in Central Park.

I often think about how the first time I saw Hop Along was when they played a loft in Bushwick back in 2009. Now they're playing venues like Brooklyn Steel, but on Thursday they served as the excellent opening act for Lucy Dacus. With the sun still in prime position, the heat was incapacitating at times, but Frances Quinlan's incredible vocals were a balm for the sultry setting and the band's blend of indie and subtle post-rock elements set the stage for a great night ahead. "Tibetan Pop Stars," in particular, felt like a massive triumph in spite of the heat and saw one of the bigger reactions I've come across from an opening band.

Still, the night belonged to Lucy and she was in prime form as she took to the stage in all-white and backed by a killer band that included a string quartet which helped bring some of her older tracks to life and added new textures to her usual guitar-forward numbers. Opening with an album closer is a rare move, but Lucy made the bold choice to start the night with "Triple Dog Dare" and from that moment on, the crowd was in the palm of her hand. Even through the excessive temperatures, Dacus created something pure and full of heart, her words clearly resonating with those in the crowd and the love from the audience never faltered. Much of the night was centered around last year's excellent Home Video and it's clear how much she's found her groove with the tracks while playing them on the road for the past year. Everything was tight and crisp, nothing out of place, and her vocals sounded fresh from the start. Even the more intimate songs sounded bold and full of force and when she got to the glowing "Thumbs," I even felt goosebumps despite the temperature being in the high 80s and the humidity making it feel like the depths of hell. The crowd fell silent and hung on each word as warm synths gave the song its ethereal aesthetics, perhaps making it the pinnacle of the night. Of course there were many other highlights as well as Lucy regularly polled the crowd before various songs. "Who here went to vocational bible school?" she asked before "VBS" and the crowd knew exactly how to reply, hands raised high in the air towards God just as instructed and of course we all responded with head bangs as she got to the distortion breakdown. "Who here is gay?" she asked later before playing her "most gay song," according to her, "Kissing Lessons" which was also met with thunderous applause. Before the night came to a close she also busted out her recently released cover of Cher's iconic "Believe" which ditched the auto-tune in favor of acoustic guitars and sent the crowd into a new frenzy before an epic rendition of "Night Shift" brought things to a close. It was another rapturous song that was surely the most well received of the night with an epic singalong to boot. For the encore she came back and dedicated a cover of Bruce Springsteen's timeless "Dancing in the Dark" to her dad who was in the crowd before gracing us all with a new song. "I'm asking everyone to not record this one," she said of the new track which she said was written the day prior, "and you can do some property damage or break someone's phone if you see them breaking the rules." What came next was another slow, moving song about being back in the loving arms of a partner. It was a wonderful end to a night that was as hot and heavy as they come, but one made better by Lucy's splendid presence and charm. 

Set list:

01 "Triple Dog Dare"
02 "Addictions"
03 "Hot & Heavy"
04 "Christine"
05 "Nonbeliever"
06 "Body to Flame"
07 "VBS"
08 "Partner in Crime"
09 "Brando"
10 "Thumbs"
11 "Going Going Gone" (with Hop Along)
12 "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore"
13 "Kissing Lessons"
14 "Believe" [Cher cover]
15 "Night Shift"
16 "Dancing in the Dark" [Bruce Springsteen cover]
17 New Song

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