Brooklyn band Big Thief have had a recent upsurge of popularity. Their recently released album Capacity has been met with critical acclaim, and it’s no wonder; the album is flooring. It’s one of the most stunning and heart-wrenching albums I’ve heard in a long time, and the opportunity to see them at Millennium Park on July 17 was dizzyingly exciting.
They were supported by the folk-electronic duo Overcoats, who put on a lovely show, full of smooth harmonies and coordinated dances. They even had matching pink overcoats. They performed much of their debut album, Young. Their performance was energetic and fun, and it’s clear that the two singers are close friends who love performing together.
I was curious to hear Big Thief’s live show, as frontwoman Adrianne Lenker’s voice is quiet and sweet in most cases. I wondered how their sound would fill Pritzker’s bandshell. But of course, there was nothing to worry about, because every moment of Big Thief’s performance was so full of feeling and intensity, even the quiet moments filled the evening air. The four piece came out and began playing without introduction. Adrianne Lenker seems like the kind of person who is slightly uncomfortable with herself, but simply allows herself to be herself while performing. She wore a simple hoodie, the hood pulled up over her grown-out buzzcut. When she did speak, it was in an endearingly soft-spoken way.
Despite the venue’s large stature, there was an incredible intimacy to every part of the performance. Lenker’s writing is unique and lyrical, and her songs pull you in close. They can go big as well, with Adrianne performing off-kilter guitar solos, creating interesting textural moments. Her bandmates, including guitarist Buck Meek, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia, share in her quiet intensity. Meek frequently filled in on backing vocals, and Oleartchik’s face often reflected how much he was enjoying the performance. Often, I feel that so many current rock/folk bands are completely contrived. Big Thief is not this way. There is so much genuineness that pours out of this band. When they played my favorite song from the album, “Mary,” tears came to my eyes.
This band is a true privilege to see live, and they put on nothing short of a perfect show that night.
Catch them on tour this summer.