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Big Thief // CCA // 6th November With Support from Katie Von Schleicher
Subcity's Jim Walker reviews Big Thief's November gig and is left a little robbed of energy by the end. Read his review to find out the hits and misses of the evening...
'An emotionally intense set that didn’t quite land'
Big Thief are a band of crackling creativity, and their set at the CCA showcased this. Sadly their moments of occasional sparkling brilliance were held back by some meandering guitar solos that left the audience behind.
Opening act Katie Von Schleicher’s melancholy pop was a good warm up for Big Thief. She was helped in no small part by the attitude of her guitarist, who ripped on his guitar as if the whole world offended him for not feeling it like he did. Sadly he had the most stage presence of the night.
Big Thief's lead singer, Adrianne Lenker, came onto the stage alone at first. She didn’t so much as introduce herself to the audience as grab a guitar, and awkwardly explain that the song she was about to play didn’t have a name, as she’d only written it last night. It was a moment of intimate warmth between audience and performer only slightly tarnished by Adrianne forgetting the last few verses of the song, and mumbling an apology. This type of thing is to be expected when playing new songs, but the audience were left feeling slightly uncomfortable due to the singer's awkward handling of the situation.
However, the besotted audience forgave her, the rest of the band came on stage, and the night went on. This pattern of experimentation and forgiveness continued throughout the concert. The band laid out their big hits Masterpiece and Shark Smile, which had deeper strength to them than usual. The sound at the CCA is really good, and the small size of the venue added to the intensity of the performance. However, it felt as though a lot of emotional work had to be done by the audience to keep up with Big Thief. Adrianna often went off on underwhelming guitar solos, leaving the audience behind, who would then have to make a conscious effort to re-engage with the experience. This process of conscious engagement was worthwhile, but draining, and by the end of the performance I groggily stumbled out with an emotional hangover.
Photo: Shervin Lainez Paste Magazine] Words: Jim Walker