Big Thief at the Horseshoe Tavern; Wednesday June 28, 2017

The girl in front of us excitedly typed “@BigTheif…” over a dimly lit Snap Chat video. After an unsuccessfully attempt at finding the band, she erased her spelling error and changed it to the excitedly punctuated “Big Theif!!” I turned to Adam and we shared a chuckle about our Snap Chat concert buddy’s struggle to put I before E except after C. Full disclosure – I always fuck up spelling Big THIEF.

My second time seeing Big Thief and my first time seeing them knowing their material. Last October I took a risk on an empty Friday night to see them open for Frankie Cosmos, two bands I knew nothing about other than the highest regard a la Lucy Dacus. Big Thief’s twenty-five year-old vocalist/guitarist Adrianne Lenker’s taken her projects to Toronto four or five times, playing as Big Thief three times and on her own opening for Here We Go Magic in 2015. I feel the luckiest to have even caught her for half of those gigs.

A part of me hates seeing bands get big. As a teenager I used to hoard music and share it with select people I felt deserved knowing it. Now, I still enjoy music independently, but without the possessive tendencies and I’m amazed to see that a band that I only seem to like is able to sell out the Horseshoe Tavern. Perhaps I’m not socializing enough with Big Thief fans. It’s weird feeling to look around and think your little secret, the record that won’t move at your record store, is able to draw 400 people.

Big Thief played for an hour and a half, now drawing from two albums Lenker told the crowd that it’s so nice to finally be able to share the album with everyone. The newer songs almost sounded better than those played off of Masterpiece. The tunes off Capacity felt more rehearsed and cleaner – perhaps better, less risky arrangements. Capacity is noticeably absent of the grit and edge that songs like “Real Love” and “Masterpiece” have. In the second guitar solo of “Real Love” Adam turned to me and suggested they were offering a sneaky launch into “Shark Smile.” Not quite, while it was the next song, it was the almost painfully long live rendition of a recorded guitar solo.

Adam and I have spent the entire week prior to the gig singing the catchy chorus of “Shark Smile”: “And she said woo, baby, take me. And I said, woo, baby, take me too.” The show did not let us down – a reverse of what you’d expect, guitarist and backup vocalist Buck Meek shadows Lenker’s vocals throughout the verses and allows her to sing independently throughout the chorus.

Lenker isn’t a talker, which is surprising because her vocals are so strong and her singing voice is very deliberate. She throws her voice in a way that is her own and sets Big Thief apart from other folk acts. This was very apparent with Julia Jacklin’s version of “Paul,” which is beautiful, but lacks the perfect pacing that Big Thief gives it. See:

Beyond all this, Big Thief has the best lyrics that are minimal and poetic:

“Paul” – A series of promises that come off effortlessly. There are two songs in Big Thief’s set list where Lenker’s vocals come off as rapping at times (she hits in the gorgeous song “Mary” off of Capacity). I feel like audiences are drawn to this song because it comes off as a big defeat and accomplishment for singing it all the way through in one breath:

I’ll be your morning bright goodnight shadow machine
I’ll be your record player baby if you know what I mean
I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whiskey breath
I’ll be a killer and a thriller and the cause of our death

“Real Love” – the lyrics alone don’t offer much, but listening to Adrianne Lenker belt this nearing the end of the tune makes it for me:

            How much blood is worth the draw?

Advertisements

Gush: Lucy Dacus post number 32488390249302


Strong bridge game:

“No child is born knowing there’s an ugly or evil thing. When did my folks stop covering my eyes? Was it my brother who taught me about jealousy? Was it my sister who taught me about vanity? Was it that girl, that beautiful girl, thirsty for love and eager for attention. Was it that girl who taught me about destruction?”

And after all that transcribing, I found Dacus’ lyrics on her Bandcamp.

Gush: “New Slang” by the Shins

I first saw the Shins at the tender age of seventeen. They were in between Chutes to Narrow and Wincing the Night Away pushing no album in particular.

Eleven years later I’ve caught myself listening to the gorgeous tune “New Slang” over and over and over and over. I’ve never really listened to lyrics until now – descriptive and imaginative.

Ty Segall three: Lyrics

Ty Segall’s undoubtedly got good hooks (see the album Melted). His sound is fuzzy and lo-fi making it hard to decipher his words. I look up the words for two or three songs off of Melted to find simple, meaningless music. My favourite nothing song is “Sad Fuzz” with the ridiculously catchy line – “Please don’t be sad my baby no/Please don’t be sad you know your mine/Yeah you’re mine.” It’s the ultimate anthem for expiration dating.

Melted is so damn catchy and it’s only 30 minutes long!

 

Gush: Track Toronto

Hot off a Master’s degree in geography , I feel like I have a special kinship with maps or at least people think I do. I think I have a special love for places and people, which is as much geography as any map is.

Meet Track Toronto – a visual representation of musical references made of different pockets of the city. For now, information is primarily showcased on a easy-to-navigate map with some signs featured around the city. According to the website, the project hopes to showcase more signs and feature apps that allow you to see who’s playing at what venue as you walk by.

Track-Pole-Image-2-for-Awesome-Foundation