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Courtesy of Katie Sims / Sun Senior Editor

March 17, 2019

Lucy Dacus and Mal Blum Perform at The Haunt

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I almost couldn’t make it out to the show. I typed and deleted and typed and deleted messages to my editors that I just couldn’t hack it tonight. I was sorry, so sorry, that I wouldn’t be able to follow through, but I didn’t expect to get in an accident. But I’d waited for this show for months; Lucy Dacus is one of my favorite artists. I couldn’t just miss it.

So, three hours after being thrown off my bike onto Tower Road — broken rib, sprained wrist and all — I was at The Haunt and loving every second of it.

It’s hard to overstate the grace of Dacus’ voice. She wraps elegant melodies around exceptional poetry, the form of each intertwining with the other. Truly the only critique I could have for the show is that there were a few times where I could hear her voice more clearly.  It’s hard to say whether the sweetness of her voice or the aptness of her words is the more defining factor in her brilliance, but from both emerges true exceptionalism. I think she could have been successful with just one or the other, so the combination really stands out. While I usually write arts columns about bad media, Lucy Dacus is an artist I will unequivocally assert is amazing, incredible, wonderful and outstanding.

In addition to the actual musicianship, the poise with which Dacus took the stage was exquisite. She was simple and sweet, taking a few seconds to discuss her songs and stories, successfully endearing herself to the audience. The audience’s eyes were on her in the most admiring way.

Dacus started off the show with an unreleased song, that stuck with the style of her second and most recent album, Historian, and assured that there should be excitement for things to come from her. She played a mix of songs both from Historian, and her first album, No Burden, as well as a cover of “La Vie En Rose,” which she recorded and released for Valentine’s Day.

One of the most spectacular moments of the show was the song “Body to Flame,” when the musical prowess of Dacus and her backing band — Jacob Blizard on guitar, Dominic Angelella on bass and Ricardo Lagomasino on drums — was on full display. Skillfully working through the waltzing song, with alternating understated and bold verses, it was a real wonder to see them bring it to life.

For the song “Historian,” Dacus took the stage with just Blizard, the lead guitarist, for the encore. Somehow, remarkably, he made a guitar sound like an organ, somberly accompanying an arresting and solemn song leaving all of Dacus’s voice on display. It was show-stoppingly beautiful.

Fenne Lilly, an English artist who released her first album in April of 2018 after years of releasing singles and playing shows, kicked off the show. Songs like “I Used to Hate My Body, Now I Just Hate You” and “I, Nietzsche” were accompanied with funny stories during long re-tuning breaks between songs. Her irreverence and charm were fun and funny, capturing as much attention as can be hoped for as people milled in. She did a great job too, with great songs and impressive musical skill.

Mal Blum was up next and was also a true joy to watch. Bringing nonchalance and earnestness on stage with them, they chatted and sang without as much formality and stiffness as artists can. The lack of theater was amiable and fun, breaking down the barriers between reverent audience and performing artist, instead more like hanging out and listening to friends playing — you know, if your friends were on stage with lights and microphones and commercial amplified sound. Blum’s jokes and stories were sincere and untampered, and their energy onstage was superb.

One more incredible thing happened Thursday night. You know how, when people sing along at a concert, they usually sound really bad. Like, you always hope the speakers in the venue are loud enough to cover it up, because if you hear the dude next to you wrecking another one of your favorite songs, you’re gonna flip. Well, the singing back actually sounded pretty good. It was sweet and wholesome and — to my ears — pretty on-key. Even the people who decided to take it upon themselves to follow along singing one of the pitchy oooh-oh-oooh sequences, which I generally regard as one of the most depraved actions you can take at a concert, didn’t totally butcher it. It was sweet, pleasant even, and pretty impressive.

It’s easy, for me at least, to forget during the hustle and bustle of college that the same concerts that brought me so much joy in high school — for which I would buy tickets for the second they went on sale, hype myself up for months and wait outside for hours before doors opened — still exist, and they’re still as good. Lucy Dacus reminded me of the way I used to stand in the crowd, awestruck, staring at the stage with wide eyes and a full heart. It’s euphoric, it’s fulfilling, it’s invigorating. And I don’t think that staying home to study for a genetics prelim — or going to the hospital to get your ribs x-rayed — is ever going to be worth missing a chance to see something that beautiful.

 

Katie Sims is a junior in The College of Agriculutre and Life Sciences. She can be reached at ksims@cornellsun.com.