In their first of two sold out London shows at The Lexington, Big Thief brought their fantastic debut album Masterpiece to life, and grabbed the opportunity to air new material in an impressive signal of what’s to come.
Before Big Thief’s headline slot, support came from the bizarre and dazzling Mega Bog. Frontwoman Erin Birgy sits between Laura Marling and Regina Spektor in terms of style, and does so with ease. Backed by complicated synths, jazz-infused licks and even gorgeous wind chimes, her wispy voice and meandering stories nestle perfectly to pack a much firmer punch than you’d first expect.
It was a tough act to follow, and appearing on stage, Adrianne Lenker & Co. of Big Thief described themselves as “overwhelmed… in a good way”, and this was palpable throughout as they flitted between Lenker meticulously delivering acoustic-folk numbers with great care, to the band driving full-throttle into rock and roll tracks such as ‘Real Love’ and ‘Masterpiece’. The contrast was stark and a delight which kept the crowd captivated throughout.
Between each song, the sound technician was asked to make tweaks, or they’d have to pause to retune, making clear the fluctuation in the style of the tracks they were playing, and the perfection they were trying to achieve. This was no surprise from what is a noticeably tight group of musicians, though almost all attention is absorbed by Lenker. With moments of delicacy her voice leaves the audience spellbound, only to suddenly change gear, effortlessly belting notes that must have even caused a stir in the bar downstairs.
It’s possibly hackneyed to say, but even in the heavier songs, Lenker’s powerhouse of a voice, pierced through the jarring guitar riffs and rhythm section, like a lighthouse across stormy seas; it seems to tie it all together and bring order to moments of chaos. Lenker has previously discussed the confidence that her band affords her, saying, “these guys feel like a pack of wolves at my back. They make the songs howl and bark with a fierce tenderness that gives me courage.” This was particularly clear in the new tracks which hinge on this growing confidence.
Both Mega Bog and Big Thief are brilliantly innovative bands and ones with plenty more to offer. You can expect them to be staples of the festival scene for years to come, as they sell out even larger shows and belt out even stronger vocals.