Lucy Dacus opened Thursday’s Park West set with “Trust,” a cut off her first album No Burden that she wrote when she was 16. It’s unfathomable how a teenager could have been responsible for a song this rich and insightful—“If beauty is the only way to make the nightmares go away, I’ll plant a garden in your brain and let the roots absorb the pain”—but you watch 24-year-old Dacus in present day and she’s so fully formed as a performer that it all begins to make sense. She’s simply very wise beyond her years.
The Richmond, Virginia native—and one-third of the boygenius trifecta with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker—found a proper balance of everything, aligning the stars just right. The quiet songs (“My Mother and I,” honoring her own mom, a fellow Taurus whose shirt she was sporting) had their moment between jangly drawn-out rockers (“The Shell”), the originals shined brightly alongside perfectly plucked covers (“Dancing in the Dark”) and she sprinkled in just enough adorable banter to let each song breathe.
Most attention was given to Dacus’ 2018 masterpiece, Historian (Matador Records), which she claims is “the album [she] needed to make. Everything after this is a bonus.” It fixates on hope, which feels less and less available these days. Even in breakout hit “Nightshift,” Dacus manages to turn a seven-minute breakup song into an empowering earworm. She turned over one of the later choruses to the crowd to have a go at singing—a nice moment, but luckily she came back in with her sweet, soulful voice for the big key change at the end.
“This feels like a hometown show. Thanks for making me feel so comfortable and happy.”
A show topper was experiencing “La Vie En Rose” in all its happy glory as Dacus beamed out at the swaying crowd, singing the “Édith (Piaf) part” in flawless French and switching back to English for the “Louis (Armstrong) part.” It released in time for Valentine’s Day this year and joins her series of holiday-centric songs including “My Mother and I” for Mother’s Day and “Forever Half Mast” for the Fourth of July.
Georgia folk singer Liza Anne opened and then returned for the finale’s closer “In the Air Tonight,” the beloved Phil Collins hit, adding gorgeous harmonies and depth. Like Dacus, she also got an early start to her music career, releasing her first album, The Colder Months, at age 19.
Austin five-piece Sun June began the show with a great batch of slow-burning songs dubbed as “regret pop.” Their newest tune, “Monster Moon,” is a dreamy one to get lost in.
All photos by Juan Montano.