Lucy Dacus came to the Teragram Ballroom Thursday night and played a show that was better than Cats.

On tour in support of gem LP Historian, the supremely understated Lucy Dacus was one member of a four-person outfit, each dutifully contributing an even share to the sturdy performance. There was nary a sour note. It was that type of impeccably clean sound where the negative space mattered as much as the instrumentation.

This was only the second LA gig ever for the Richmond, Virginia native, who confessed that our city can be “intimidating.” But any timidity in her gentle, doe-eyed presence belies the confidence in her lyrics. The sound of her songs may have a lot of forgiving, rounded corners, but the thematic territory covered can be heavier and more sharp.

Lucy’s lilting vocals, which at times call to mind a register similar to Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom, mostly communicate a sense of introversion. The band, however, backed her up with extroverted thump.


Photo by George Lopez

Take “Yours & Mine,” for example, when Ricardo Lagomasino’s yeoman drumming ushered in an unexpected blaze of a solo from (most aptly-named) electric guitarist, Jacob Blizzard. Or the bona fide buzzy hard rock edge found in “Timefighter” that flirted with the industrial, grew frenetic, then stopped on a dime.

Another defining characteristic of many of Lucy Dacus’ songs is the way in which they blossom after a slow burn ascent. Kicking off with a deliberate, arm’s length pace, the tunes eventually relent with a warm release; like a glimpse of blue sky on an overcast day, or the slightest grin that surfaces in the midst of an otherwise serious conversation. Sonic easter eggs for the patient and weary.

In “Pillar of Truth,” Dacus & co. tiptoed at first, then they galloped. Spread over seven minutes on album, “Pillar” stretched its legs even further at the Teragram. In the song’s earnest reflection on the loss of her grandmother, a woman “raised in the age of the milkman,” you got the feeling that Lucy Dacus has never told a lie in her life.

“Dream State…,” a cut from her first album, 2016’s No Burden, opened with a bright and sunnier pace that could’ve fit right in on Wildflowers – but it too evolved. By its terminus, Blizzard was on his knees, knob-turning like a third brother Greenwood, lost in the thick of weird effects.

“…Familiar Place,” another older tune, was the canvas for the band’s best and most nuanced interplay. Sadie Powers dropped a few well-timed reverberating bass bombs, then reached for a tom to strike both the strings, then the body of her bass guitar. These additions were as masterful as they were subtle.

Set closer “Night Shift” became a microcosm of the entire show. Once the tune busted open, Dacus began to let operatic howls loose, then finally belted out at full strength. Seventy-five minutes deep, it was like the entire night had been scripted to arrive at this moment.

Lucy’s coda was also the new album’s closing track, the delicate and majestic prayer of “Historians.” Performed by Dacus and her guitarist, the selection was the only song off Historian yet to be played. The meditative number hovered in a celestial plane, its poetry hinting at how a life long devotion may still end up haunted by human insecurity.

As Blizzard generated organ sounds from his instrument, the front woman exercised her patented rock move; just singing humbly and honestly. When finished, she stepped straight back from the microphone, tapped her heart twice, and walked off stage.

Look out world, here comes Lucy Dacus.

Lucy Dacus at Teragram Ballroom Setlist

Addictions
The Shell
Nonbeliever
Yours & Mine
Body to Flame
Timefighter
Next of Kin
Pillar of Truth
Map On A Wall
Dream State…
…Familiar Place
I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore
Night Shift
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Historians