ACL Live Review: Big Thief
Adrianne Lenker and company cradle the human condition
By Isabella Castro-Cota,
8:30AM, Sat. Oct. 13, 2018
Big Thief didn’t return to a second weekend of ACL to invigorate. Instead, they offered decompression. On the festival’s second Friday, the Brooklyn indie rock quartet congregated unassumingly in the center of the Barton Springs stage, with no adornments aside from an assortment of amps and speakers that made them appear smaller.
This provided a crutch at first as the group struggled to gain momentum in the noontime hour, glancing past songs as if only to pass the time. Midway through, “Not” acted as the turning point, with frontwoman Adrianne Lenker slowly powering up. Her three-minute guitar solo catalyzed a live rejuvenation for Big Thief.
“Capacity” followed, leveling out the energy as she breathed gently into the microphone, “I am a beautiful bird, fluttered and floating.” Each lyric curled around the microphone ever so delicately, so much so that even unenthused onlookers began to circle around the stage front. She paused before continuing onto the next song, wondering about the frailness of the human condition.
“Never do I lose the feeling that I need to be cradled,” she told the crowd. “It’s really tender to be human. I hope you experience love today.”
Her sentiments made some onlookers clutch their loved ones, so she continued to serenade the assembly with lowly, stream-of-consciousness ballad “Mary.” The band thanked the crew and the audience before walking away, but the fuzzy riffs floated in that space long after their exit.
Big Thief’s power never centered on their grandeur. Quite the opposite, actually. They just want you to know they care.