The evening began as Molly Erin Sarlé took the stage with a quiet poise, her ghostly voice carrying a simplistic, hymnal quality. She opened her set with a handful of folky solo tunes and later invited out her band, showcasing a more confident and lush side of her songwriting. While Sarlé is known to many for her contributions to dream pop group BOBBY and Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man, her solo performances feel dynamic and expansive as they balance those influences and more.
Big Thief returned to Richmond for the first time since their appearance at Friday Cheers with Conor Oberst earlier this year. The June 9th show fell days before the release of their sophomore album, Capacity, which propelled the group to critical acclaim and tours across the US and UK.
Regardless of the venue, watching vocalist/guitarist Adrianne Lenker perform feels like she’s sat you down next to a warm fire to play and sing just for you. Big Thief combines dreamy, light-and-dark storytelling with heavy, melodic riffs that seem to wax and wane in all the right places. Their performance at that night felt even more moving than their already fantastic Friday Cheers show, perhaps due to the band’s nonstop touring between then and now.
“We played here about a year ago and haven’t put out another record since, so we aren’t really sure what you guys are doing here,” Lucy Dacus joked near the beginning of her set.
Dacus always makes her hometown shows unique with a mix of special guests and other fun surprises, which explains why folks are just as excited for their tenth time seeing her as their first. During the first half of her set, Dacus’ younger brother Charlie joined her on drums. Charlie Dacus had never played with the band on stage before, and seamlessly slipped into the pocket during the first three songs.
“Turning around and seeing Charlie playing was just crazy,” Dacus said shortly afterwards. “Dreams do come true!”
Later longtime friend and collaborator Hayden Arp joined Dacus for a hauntingly beautiful duet of Prince’s “I Would Die for You”. Dacus was also joined by the local supergroup Whateverhoney, made up of Ali Thibodeau, Hannah Goad, and Angelica Garcia. The audience was treated to covers such as The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Long Walk Home.”
Dacus of course played the hits from her first record, which all sound as vital and sincere as ever. But for those who have watched those songs evolve from solo house shows in Oregon Hill to full band spectacles at the National, it is obvious that the best of Lucy Dacus is always on the horizon.
Molly Erin Sarlé