“Big Thief is for bisexual women and men with mullets,” I uttered to my friend on a Wednesday evening at A.C.L. Live theater. Within this state-of-the-art venue, fans with every form of mullet, shag, and mustache found an escape from the cold weather in the warm voice of Adrianne Lenker, singer-songwriter of Big Thief. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the fairytale-like opening act that is Buck Meek, who also plays an essential part in Big Thief as the guitarist. Buck Meek welcomed the crowd with soft melodies that emphasized the soothing beauty of folk music. Shortly after the opening act’s dazzling performance, we met guitarist Buck Meek again, to the right side of Lenker, bassist Max Oleartchik, and drummer James Krivchenia.
The foursome began their performance with an unreleased track, “Ruined.” Although this song was entirely unbeknownst to the crowd, the theater was filled with delighted cheers and applause at the mere sight of the band. However, when “Simulation Swarm,” commenced immediately after, the pool of fans went crazy. Lenker’s performance matched the crowd’s intensity; she sang fervently, and the veins on her neck appeared as if they would break free from her skin. As the most streamed song from their new album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You, it was no surprise that those around me were screaming their hearts out to the lyrics “I wanna drop my arms and take your arms and walk you to the shore.” Admittedly, I was screaming too, but “Simulation Swarm” was not the song I most anticipated with excitement; that one came shortly after when Lenker graced us with yet another unreleased track, “Vampire Empire.”
Throughout the days leading up to this concert, I hoped and prayed that Big Thief would perform “Vampire Empire,” the song I streamed exclusively from others’ concert videos. This heartfelt love letter has developed a virality on TikTok, yet there I was, experiencing it in person. The verse I was dying to passionately yell alongside anyone else who abuses the video-sharing app was: “I wanted to be your woman, I wanted to be your man, I wanted to be the one that you could understand.” While standing there in the Moody Theater, I was enveloped in sincere admiration for Lenker’s talent; she yelled into the mic as if the subject of this profound song was right in front of her. Not only does she share her complex, emotive self through songwriting, but Lenker also invites fans to witness her unbridled passion through her stage presence.
Since leaving the concert, I have been listening to the foursome even more. When streaming their new album, I picture the passion illustrated by every band member and feel the weight of their artistry even deeper. Big Thief epitomizes the power of sincerity, fervor, and love not only through their lyricism but their performances as well.