Lucy Dacus | Live Review
Photography: Kim Phan | @averagecabbage.mp3
Lucy Dacus charmed audiences at Oxford Art Factory on Wednesday 27 March, the first stop on her debut Australian tour.
Opening with fan favourite ‘Fool’s Gold’ was definitely a win, seeing Dacus alone on stage with just a guitar and that stellar voice. Despite a few hiccups—bassist Dominic Angelella briefly left the stage to get a completely different guitar—the band worked well together and complemented each other to create a polished and unique sound, somewhere in between folk and indie rock. Dacus repeatedly expressed surprise that anyone even knew her or her work, and grinned incredulously whenever the crowd sang as a whole.
The 70 minute set started with slow, moody tracks mostly off the 2018 album Historian. Songs like ‘The Shell’ and ‘Nonbeliever’ were intimate and low, showcasing the poetry and personality of Dacus’ lyrics and the effectiveness of her voice. ‘Green Eyes, Red Face’ from the 2016 record No Burden demonstrated the sleepier, hypnotic side to the band, drawing the crowd in with a crescendo from quiet and soft to warm and wry.
In between songs, Dacus pivoted between making jokes and giving insight into the creation of songs, to allowing ambient soundscapes wash over the audience, flowing from one track to the next.
The band’s cover of ‘La Vie En Rose’ was a set highlight, Dacus singing in both English and French, only adding to the comparison to Edith Piaf. A pumped up and beat-heavy rendition, the true hero was Dacus’ voice, which buzzed with emotion and nostalgia. To an untrained ear the French sounded perfect, although the singer apologised to any native speakers in the room.
Tracks like ‘Timefighter’, ‘Night Shift’, and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore’ rallied the crowd, as they erupted in sound and energy. The tight accompaniment complemented Dacus’ smoky vocals, climaxing with a true rock moment epitomised by a synchronised dance between the lead singer and guitarist. ‘Night Shift’ especially, possibly because it was one of the more well known tracks, had audiences trying to meet Dacus’ range as they sang along.
Lucy Dacus and her band achieved something great in their live show, they had an easy rapport with audiences; wonderfully confessional without oversharing, humble but not false-modest. While the lyrics and vocals lended themselves to folk or even blues, the fuzzy guitar and strong percussion were decidedly rock, creating a beautiful mix of spare accompaniment and intimate moments with other heavier tracks.
Dacus ended the night as she started it, alone on stage with just her guitar for company. She finished with a new song (I peaked at the set-list on the stage floor for a title, but it literally just said “New Song”), one that was somehow even more poignant and personal in lyrics than those on the 2018 record. If this is any indication, the sky’s the limit for Dacus’ talent.