BIG THIEF SHOWCASES ARTFUL LYRICS AND MELODIES AT UNION TRANSFER

Words & Photos by Doug Dresher

October 5, 2021

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A packed venue, Silent. Listening to every word, every note being offered by Big Thief. The quartet, bathed in golden-brown light, started with a subdued soft tone that could at first fool you into thinking that this might be more like a coffeehouse gig. Like many bands who understand that the wide dynamics of a performance make for a great show, Big Thief slowly turned up the lights, the sound, and most importantly, the passion. As they did, the audience soaked it up, and they too began to sway and raise their hands in support of the group.

Every one of Big Thief’s songs sound as if the topics were taken from our collective diaries of high school, college, and beyond. To their credit, they take those raw emotions, the feelings of loneliness, the weight of a heavy heart, and the fright of not understanding our relationships and puts them into artful words and melodies. The night is long and dark, but there is hope after realizing that the sun will rise tomorrow.


Adrianne Lenker’s voice is a perfect vehicle to sing about such topics. While there is the apparent influence of Kate Bush, Lenker’s voice is just as strong, vulnerable, and confident, but with a hint of unsureness. This band could not exist without Lenker’s voice and insight.

Any thought of this being a somewhat subdued show was gone when the band performed, “Not.” By the end of the song, Lenker was wrestling their guitar and amp and dragged out the sounds of heartbreak and anger. Apart from the human voice, the electric guitar is ideally suited to make such a painful guttural scream. But at no point did Lenker ever lose control of the guitar or the sound. Her power over the instrument was evident in every cry for help that came out of the amp. That song was a lesson of how to go from zero to full blast and back. The song itself was a statement, a cleansing, a baptism, a giving of everything they had, the gentle asking for a helping hand, and a begging for understanding and clarity.


And at the end of the evening, we were left with one significant and straightforward request - “kiss me like you used to in the January night.”


Perfect.


Just perfect.


Have some pictures.

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Born from an existential argument between the modernists and postmodernists, I have found my home with the post-punks and those who love a good slice of pizza. I live in a world of art in the age of mechanical reproduction and the ever-elusive decisive moment. Punctum and Stadium aside, I like to take photographs of people and things to see how they look photographed. While I miss CBGBs, I think Asbury Park is as close as we are ever going to get to making punk whatever we make it to be. The future is unwritten and I owe it all to Mr. Bradley and Mr. Martin. Let us now praise famous men and ask the little prince for his thoughts. Sometimes I'm on the road, but If it wasn’t for the honor of the thing, I’d rather walk. My loving wife supports this albatross of an obsession and my kids put up with me well. BA, MFA, M.Ed., BCEA, Tri-X, and Nikon.

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