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Archive for the ‘Lucy Dacus’ Category

[POSTPONED: June 16, 2020] Bright Eyes / Lucy Dacus [moved to July 29, 2021]

indexI’ve never been much of a fan of Conor Oberst.  Although after seeing him in Better Oblivion Community Center, I gained a new respect for him and foudn I actually liked him.

I don’t know a lot about Bright Eyes (except that the songs sound strangely like The Replacements to me).  I wasn’t planning on going to this show (even though Steelstacks is a cool venue).

However, I kept getting notifications that Lucy Dacus was playing at Steelstacks.  I have seen Lucy a couple of times and would be more than happy to see her again.  When I got the notification, I assumed it meant she would be playing inside in one of the smaller venues (which would be outstanding).  I didn’t realize it was because she was opening for Bright Eyes.

This show was in fact postponed until next July–over a year away.  I have no idea what my calendar will be like then, but I think maybe by next July, I could be ready for Conor and Lucy again.

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SOUNDTRACK: LUCY DACUS-“In the Air Tonight” (2019).

For 2019, Lucy Dacus has been releasing songs that correspond with the holidays (to be pt out on an EP soon).  For Halloween she decided to cover Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.”  I have heard the original song a million times.  I loved it, then I got sick of it and then started to really hate Phil Collins and really never wanted to hear it again.

So it’s fun that Lucy has dug it from its grave to release for Halloween.

In a n interview she was asked why on earth it was this song.  She said that she knew this song from her childhood–it was one of the first songs she remembers hearing with her mom (who used to sing along with the radio in the car all the time).

Lucy–like everyone–could never hold back on air drumming to the big drum part in the middle.  Her band was listening to it one day when everyone air drummed along and they knew then they had to record it.

She also said you never realize quite how dark the song is until you really listen to the words.

Well if you told me you were drowning, I would not lend a hand
I’ve seen your face before my friend, but I don’t know if you know who I am
Well I was there and I saw what you did, I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been
It’s all been a pack of lies

Lucy’s version is pretty great–understated and whsipery.

It starts with the drum machine and some distant keys.  Lucy’s voice is quiet with a soft echo–possibly with a different take in each ear?

The synths stay quiet and subtle throughout the verses.

By the midpoint the music grows louder–to good effect–and there’s some creepy echoing on her voice.  Her delivery lets me understand lyrics that I never knew before (and her vocal processing is much more subtle too).

The big drum part is pretty great and the live drums continue throughout to the end.  I don’t honestly recall what the music of the original end part sounds like (apart from that prominent bass) but Lucy throws in some cool distorted guitar noises throughout to add just some more chaos to the proceedings.

And then the chilling matter of fact ending.

[READ: October 20, 2019] Fake Blood

Lots of times I don’t know what graphic novels are about before I read them.  Usually if someone in my family likes it, I’ll check it out.

I didn’t really even give much thought to the title (and cover) of this book before reading it.  I just read it because my daughter liked it.  So I didn’t really think to much about how vampires would appear in this book until people started talking about them.

AJ is entering sixth grade and he believes things are going to be different.  But things aren’t.  As he heads toward the bus his friends Hunter and Ivy race past him–seeing who can be first–because everything is a competition with them.  Like always.  When they reach the bus stop, Hunter is thrilled to be first but AJ is upset because they actually missed the bus…again.

As they walk to school, Hunter tells his story about his wild summer bungee jumping.  Ivy talks about hiking to the top of Mt. St. Helen’s.  And AJ… read like ten books. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 27 & 28, 2019] Newport Folk Festival

Back in 1998, I won a radio contest (not through luck, I knew the name of a song and couldn’t believe no one else did!) and scored a ticket to the Newport Folk Festival.  It was in a lull back then and also, I believe there was only one stage (it’s hard to remember).  Now it is at full power, selling out before artists are even announced.

S. and I have talked about going and finally this year I saw when tickets were announced and I bought 4 tickets for us.  I knew that our son wouldn’t want to go, but I decided to make a long vacation out of it–a couple days in Rhode Island and then about a week in Maine.  He couldn’t say no to going to that.

I didn’t get Friday tickets because three days seemed excessive.  Plus, you never know who is going to appear until long after you buy the tickets. and that actually worked out pretty well.   Turned out, there wasn’t anyone I really wanted to see.

So we rolled in for Saturday.  I was told that if you wanted to get the poster you had to get their very early.  We arrived at 12:30 and they were long sold out.  Oh well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 28, 2019] Lucy Dacus @ Newport Folk Festival

I have seen Lucy Dacus twice and she has been really amazing both times.  I was very excited to see that she would be at Newport.  But I was really bummed to see that she would be running into Jeff Tweedy’s set.  I had to decide who I wanted to see more, Lucy or Jeff.  Since I had seen Lucy twice and more recently, I decided to pick Jeff.  (It also seems more likely that Lucy will tour again before he does).  That meant I could only see a few Lucy songs.

S and T came and we all sat under the big tent.

She sounded great (of course) and her band was in great form.

She opened with “Addictions,” a fantastic song.   I knew there wouldn’t be much that I hadn’t heard from her before.  Neverthless, I was delighted that we got to hear “La Vie en rose” which is tremendous live (and which S. liked very much). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BETTER OBLIVION COMMUNITY CENTER-Tiny Desk Concert #844 (April 24, 2019).

This Tiny Desk Concert marks another one of those rare occasions where I’ve seen a band live BEFORE their Tiny Desk.

I saw BOCC on April 2.   I assume that this Tiny Desk was recorded around that time (bands usually play DC right before or after Philly), but it takes a week or so to get online.

I really enjoyed the BOCC concert, which rocked more than I thought it would.

But I enjoyed this Tiny Desk even more than that because Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers are having so much fun with this show.  Truth be told they had a lot of fun at our show too, but they experiment more here.  They also have lots of experience at the Tiny Desk.

When this fabulous new duo arrived for their Tiny Desk, it felt like old friends coming home. Both Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers are Tiny Desk alum. Conor’s first Tiny Desk Concert came in 2014. Phoebe has come by twice in the past few years, first as a solo artist in 2017 and then as part of another creative and collaborative endeavor with Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker as boygenius in 2018. So, unlike the bundle of nerves that often come with an appearance at the NPR offices, this one was fun and, at times, silly, like when Conor Oberst sang into a fake rubber microphone on the other end of a chopstick that was sitting on my desk. But there was nothing trivial about the songs or the collaboration.

The first song starts off fairly seriously.  They play their (only?) hit, “Dylan Thomas” with Conor on electric guitar and Phoebe and backing guitarist Christian Lee Hutson on acoustic.  It sounds great–possibly even better than the record.

when their voices intertwine, there’s a radiance that often feels joyful even while singing words like the ones on their opening number, “Dylan Thomas.”

“I’m getting used to these dizzy spells
I’m taking a shower at the Bates Motel
I’m getting greedy with this private hell
I’ll go it alone, but that’s just as well”

For the second song, “Exception to the Rule,” Conor and Phoebe put down their guitars and simply sing (Conor into that fake microphone).  Christian plays guitar and Emily Retsas plays an omnichord.  As Emily sets up the “toy” Phoebe says, we’re going to set it to avoid choreography.”  Their voices really do sound great together, even with this ultra-minimal backing music.  The chorus is catchy, too!

For the final song, “My City” Bob Boilen himself comes out swinging a plastic whistling tube.

So I was whipping a corrugated, ribbed plastic hose over my head, creating a high pitched siren sound, trying to blend in with Christian’s electronics on “My City.” It was my Tiny Desk performance debut, and I was thrilled to be part of this magical act.

Conor and Phoebe pick up acoustic guitars and Christian plays a pocket piano (I gather).  This song feels the most like a folk song and again, they mostly sing together.  But Phoebe gets a solo verse near the end and that little change make a big difference in the overall flow of the song.

For the most part this is a quiet song, but the buildup for the end is pretty great.

[READ: April 20, 2019] “Brothers and Sisters Around the World”

This story is set in Madagascar.  Michel is a French-Italian white man who is married to the narrator–an African American woman.  They live in Cannes where it is always sunny.  But on vacation they travel the world to get hotter and wilder.  Islands are what Michel prefers.  “Any place where the people are the color of different grades of coffee.”

She says he loves her for all the wrong reasons.  He thinks she has some of that island wildness inside of her, but she grew up in Massachusetts and has a “steely Protestant core.”  Her parents never thought it would last.  But they have been together for eight years and they have a child.

As the story opens, he is telling her about how he drove “those two little whores” on the Zodiac.  “You should have seen their titties bounce!”

She admits:

It’s no surprise to me when Michel tries to share the ribald thoughts that run though the labyrinth of his Roman Catholic mind.  He doubtless thought that I would get a kick out of hearing about his boat ride with a pair of African sluts.

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[ATTENDED: April 5, 2019] And the Kids

Almost exactly one year ago I saw And the Kids open for Lucy Dacus.  They put on a great show, but I had heard that they would be even more wild if they didn’t have the time constraints of that show (there were two full sets that night, so the earlier one was kind of rushed).  Back in November they opened another show that I wanted to get to but couldn’t.  But here they were headlining, which is what I really wanted to see.

I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale.  But then I found out that Voivod was playing the same night across town.  Voivod is a band I have loved and never saw live.  So I chose Voivod.  During the headliners, YOB, I decided if I left I could get over to Johnny Brenda’s (about 10 minutes away) in time before And the Kids started.  I listened to one heavy YOB song and then took off.  I got on street parking a block away from Johnny Brenda’s and walked in a few minutes before And the Kids were to go on.  All signs indicated that I had made the right choice.

I was surprised at how crowded it was (good for them!)  But I managed to get past the drunken clumps and got right up at the edge of the stage, but to the side–near the steps where the band comes in.  It’s not a great vantage point (and the sound really isn’t as good, but it was better than standing in the middle of tall people.

Then the band came out.  Last time And the Kids were a four-piece.  But for this show they were only a duo.  I gather the core of the group has always been Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums and Hannah Mohan on guitar and vocals.  I have yet to find out why they were touring with just the two of them and not a full band.  I’m also not exactly sure how the bass and other sounds were handled.  I know it had something to do with Lasaponaro, but whether she was triggering them live or just starting them on a laptop, I don’t know.

In some ways this hindered their improvisatory nature.  But not really, because Mohan is a born entertainer and she was a ton of fun throughout the night–and made me glad I was standing where I was.

They played eleven songs in about an hour.   Five were songs from the new album, which I hadn’t heard yet. I hadn’t heard much by them when I saw them last time either, and I feel like hearing them live–even new songs–is absolutely the way to go.  The recorded versions are good, but the don’t quite capture the vitality and energy that their live set has. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 20, 2019] Lucy Dacus

Less than a year ago I saw Lucy Dacus at Johnny Brenda’s.  In that time, she has been in boygenius and has catapulted to a slightly higher level of recognition.

Last time when I saw her, she played two shows that night.  (She was already popular enough to sell out two shows on the same night).  I saw the first show, which was one song shorter than the later show.  (Boo).  But she was great and very personable.

Tonight’s show was quite different.   I’m not sure what it was.  Last time, perhaps because she dressed a bit more casually (she wore glasses and no lipstick–see bottom of post), or maybe because it was an early show, it felt a bit more mellow.

But this show felt like it was important (whatever that means).  She had coordinated the whole tour–dates, support acts, hotels, eveyrthing.  She also said she was pretty excited to play New Jersey (and we were happy to have her).  She even wore her now characteristic red lipstick.

What really impressed me was during the final song she stood up on stage with no guitar, facing the crowd.  She stood there confidently as her guitarist swelled music around her.  It wasn’t an act of defiance, it was an act of acceptance and the power she exuded standing up there.  She didn’t move, she didn’t sway, she didn’t speak, she didn’t fidget.  She knew we were there to see her and she was there to be seen.  And she defined our gaze.  It was stunning.

And that doesn’t even talk about the music. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 20, 2019] Fenne Lily

I was unfamiliar with Fenne Lily before this show.  I looked her up and found that she was a British singer-songwriter who wrote some pointed lyrics.  And frankly, I found out very little else.  Even after the show.  I’m not even sure if Fenne Lily is her real name.  But it’s all irrelevant, because she was a delight.

She came out onstage with a guitar and a co-conspirator named Joe.  Joe played leads to Fenne Lily’s chords (she had all kinds of interesting tunings on her guitar, which, although time-consuming, was certainly appreciated as it left lots of time for amusing stories.  And Fenne Lily had lots of them.

She told us that she has self-released her album last year. She had done everything by herself.  It was like her baby.  And now, after some time she is sick of it, just like a real child.  I’m very excited to hear what her next album will sound like as the new songs were terrific.

 

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LUCY DACUS-“Ma Vie en Rose” (2019).

Lucy Dacus has been on a roll lately.  Her album Historian is fantastic.  She has put on some amazing live shows (I’ll be seeing her again in March), she did some amazing work as 1/3 of boygenius and now she has made a delightful version of “Ma Vie en Rose.”

The original is swooning and slow, allowing for the words to linger and tickle every inch of the listener’s ear.  But sometimes love isn’t slow and languorous.  Sometime, it hits you hard and runs fast with your heart.

So Lucy has recorded a version with this tempo in mind.  She says

I want someone to listen to this while running at top speed to the doorstep of the person they adore, ready to profess their deep, undying love.

Musically the song is pulsing beat and piano–electric guitar and bass and it is just relentlessly chipper.

She sings the song first in French and then in English in her gorgeous quiet(ish) voice in under 3 minutes–that’s a minute faster than the original which is only in French.

And she released it just in time for Valentine’s Day.

[READ: February 11, 2019] The City on the Other Side

The book begins on the other side of the veil that separates our world from the fairie realm.  It is a very thin but very powerful veil and virtually no one can cross it.

This is a story of fairies and humans.  And how our worlds impact one another.  When we build buildings, the fairies feel the digging and when the fairies had a war, it caused earthquakes,   The massive San Francisco earthquake of 1906?  That was caused by a massive fairie war.  That fairie war started when the Seelie (the creatures who bless brightness–birds, ferns, humans) and the Unseelie (who celebrate darkness-worms, rotting logs etc) couldn’t agree on a ruler.  They are expected to rule the underworld in equal parts–six months at a time.  But recently there had been trouble. The leader of the Unseelie didn’t like the way the Seelie seemed to be taking over (because humans were becoming so powerful) so he captured the Seelie leader’s daughter and waged war.

Back on earth we meet a young girl, Isabelle.  She is the daughter of a wealthy aristocrat who wishes her to be perfect–clean, respectful, and quiet.  In the summertime, she is shunted off to her father–an artist who is more interested in his work than his daughter.  But at least she can relax and play and get dirty.  It is while she is here that she sees a Seelie with a magical necklace. The Seelie is supposed to get that necklace to the kidnapped daughter of the Seelie leader.  But he has been wounded.  Since Isabelle is allowed to cross dimensions he pleads with her to help the Seelie.

While heading into the city with a helpful talking mushroom named Button, Isabelle’s necklace is stolen by…another human?  This young boy is shocked to discover that she is a human.  When he tells his story they agree to work together.

It turns out that the earthquake killed his parents and his discovered a rift between the worlds when the ground opened up.  He was rescued by the now-missing Seelie daughter which granted him the power to cross the veil. But no one has seen the daughter for many years so he–who is not welcomed in Fairlieland and has nothing waiting for him in human land–has become a simple thief.

The thief knows his way around the fairie world and has made something of a name for himself.  But that also means that Unseelie warriors are aware of what he does and where he goes.

How will these two humans find a princess in the fairie realm?  And will they ever even want to go back home?

This story was a little to fast for my liking–everything seems to be very truncated.  Maybe that’s because it’s a children’s book?  And while I am glad that it wasn’t stretched into two books, it just felt like it took on a lot and resolved it all really fast.

I also didn’t love the artwork.  I really didn’t like the fairie characters at all–they seemed hastily drawn and I didn’t really like the main characters all that much either.  The whole book felt like it was done very quickly.

Having said that, it’s a good introduction for kids to know about the Seelie and fairie stories–there are so many they can explore later on.  I did like how the final pages with Button the mushroom (my favorite character) were informative both about the story process and the history of San Francisco and the earthquake.

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SOUNDTRACK: boygenius-Tiny Desk Concert #805 (November 16, 2018).

boygenius have been getting a ton of absolutely deserved press for combining the amazing talents of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.

I wasn’t that upset when I read that the three weren’t touring near me (the tour was Lucy, Julie, Phoebe and then boygenius) because I had seen all three of them fairly recently.

In fact, I saw Phoebe in July, Lucy in April and Julien a few days after Lucy (as well as in April 2017).  But then I heard exactly how the tour was structured and that the boygenius part at the end was just stunning.  My only (sort of) consolation, was that they didn’t tour anywhere near me, so it’s not like it was my fault I didn’t go.

And I first heard about all three of them from Tiny Desk Concerts.

The group is new, but all of the members of boygenius — Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus and Phoebe Bridgers — are Tiny Desk Concert alumae. In fact, Julien has been behind my desk twice before. So when the usual nerve-racking session was over and I shouted out, “So, is it any easier the second or third time?” I had to laugh when I got a resounding “No!” from all of them.

Boygenius only has six total tunes, all from their just-released, self-titled EP, and here they perform half of that catalog. What you get at the Tiny Desk is a frailer version of these more fleshed-out songs from a band that is likely quite temporary.

All three songs are delicate and lovely–somewhat belying at least Lucy and Phoebe’s ability to totally rock out

“Souvenir” opens with Julien singing the first verse while she gently plays mandolin.  Phoebe plays guitar and sings the second verse.  Lucy (no instrument) sings  a wonderful harmony with Phoebe in the second part of her verse and then sings the end solo.  All three sing the end.  It’s amazing how wonderful their voices sound together–they fit like a practiced team.

Bob asks if they have a joke.  Lucy attempts a cupcake joke and messes it up.  “I shouldn’t have gotten into that.  You baited me.”  Phoebe asks where the king keeps his armies (I’m not giving that away) and no one laughs (although I thought it was great).  Lucy says Jokes are not our forte.  To which Phoebe corrects her, It’s totally my forte, Lucy.

On the second song, “Me & My Dog” Phoebe (whose speaking voice is so much deeper than her singing voice its uncanny) sings the first verse and plays guitar.  Julien is on piano.  There’s gorgeous oohs from Lucy and Julien and then all three of them harmonize on the chorus.

For their closing tune at the Tiny Desk, “Ketchum, ID,” Julien, Phoebe and Lucy each take a verse.

Only Phoebe plays guitar on this one.  And they harmonize beautifully on the chorus.

Lucy’s verse ends the song with the line, “Let’s dissolve the band, move to Idaho.” And the chorus to the song, in stunning harmony, echoes the mileage of the lifestyle, how they live and how they met: “I am never anywhere / Anywhere I go / When I’m home I’m never there / Long enough to know.”

This trio is a special gift to us all in 2018.

There is a part of me that thinks it would be best if they simply made this lovely EP, did some shows and dissolved.  What a great stamp to make on music.

And yet I can’t help but think that we all need more from them.  We should just be grateful we got what we did.

Also, listen to their interview on All Songs Considered for more insight and a full retelling of the muffin joke.

[READ: December 14 2015] “Jelly and Jack”

This story is set in 1985, which is what allows its simple premise to be executed so well.

Jelly is a woman who calls men.  Not as a job or for sexual gratification, exactly.  But just to talk to  them.

The details are a little sketchy about who she calls, but it appears to be people she doesn’t know herself but knows about because of other men.  Some of the men are annoyed by her calls.  Some are angry, some even curse at her.  But others are willing to talk to her. (more…)

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