ACL Live Review: Big Thief

Adrianne Lenker and company cradle the human condition

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.

Adrianne Lenker (Photo by Gary Miller)

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.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Big Thief
SXSW Music Live: Big Thief
SXSW Music Live: Big Thief
Day party robbed by Masterpiece maker Adrianne Lenker!

Libby Webster, March 19, 2017

More by Isabella Castro-Cota
ACL Live Review: Amber Mark
Live Shot: Amber Mark
Main stage opener preps for headlining status

Oct. 15, 2018

ACL Live Review: IamDDB
Live Shot: IamDDB
Brit MC prompts instant loyalty through strut, charm, and XOX

Oct. 14, 2018


Big Thief, ACL Fest 2018, ACL Music Fest 2018, Adrianne Lenker

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle