Frontwoman Lucy Dacus toes the line between timid and poised as she tackles guitar riffs and shares her frank commentary.
A small red lipstick smile escaped as Lucy Dacus looked down at her guitar, humming to herself as she tuned. A tiny butterfly clip pinned back her dark brown hair, preventing strands from mingling with her guitar strings.
It had only been a few months since Dacus graced the Sinclair stage opening for Car Seat Headrest, one of the year’s most hailed wordsmiths. But it was clear that much of the crowd was there to hear her just as much as the night’s headliner, Hamilton Leithauser; Dacus and her three bearded bandmates were welcomed onstage with enthusiastic cheers.
Lucy Dacus is a guitarist and vocalist who has garnered comparisons to the likes of Courtney Barnett, and as the band kicked off the night with “Troublemaker Doppelganger,” it became clear she shares more with Barnett than lyrics that ponder the ordinary. Both have a similar nonchalant manner of performing that sometimes underwhelms, and may prompt concertgoers to underestimate their guitar shredding talent.
Most of the movement onstage came from stage left, in the form of the bassist’s exaggerated swaying. Ducas has a timid stage presence; even her ruby lipstick smile seemed to blend into the background when the stage was drenched in red light.
However, Dacus shared new songs that hinted at livelier future performances, the first of which took a blusier direction. What began as a slow, booming bass drum, with low vocals from Ducas to match, grew over the course of six minutes: a guitar solo was rolled into the mix, then the smash of cymbals and additional percussion. Ducas voice rose as she sang “I’ll get old and I’ll get tried,” before the song culminated in the gritty shriek of an effects-riddled guitar solo.
“This is our first show doing that so y’all are guinea pigs,” Ducas explained as she began “Map on A Wall,” a sleepier number that Dacus sang with the fragility and quiet tenderness of Daughter. “Oh please don’t make fun of me” she sang with furrowed eyebrows, as if the Sinclair was actually room filled with middle school bullies, rather than an audience.
As the night came to a close, Dacus clasped the neck of her guitar, holding it close to her chest. “Is there room in the band? I don’t have to be the front man,” she sang. Apparently, there was room. And good thing there was, because the crowd at the Sinclair exploded in hollers and clapping when she finished.