It was Monday night when NY-based Big Thief took the stage, but it didn’t feel like it.
The High Noon Saloon was as packed as it will ever be, with an eclectic mix of concertgoers present, varying between stoned-looking college students, quiet mid-20’s folk and stoned-looking adults.
Before Big Thief could come on with a big surprise in tow, though, a singer/songwriter by the name of Twain took the stage and almost stole the show entirely. Twain’s music has the feel of being wholly original yet painstakingly familiar. He uses all the conventions of a folk singer/songwriter, but has drawn up entirely new formulas to create his own sound. The tension between his vocals both evoked and soothed heartache all at once.
During Twain’s last song, members of Big Thief made a quick cameo in the crowd. Those close by were lucky to hear a sort-of duet as frontwoman Adrianne Lenker sung along during the final song.
A sizable gap then broke up his and Big Thief’s performances, and this is where the crowd really started to thicken. It was practically wall-to-wall by the time the four-piece band took the stage.
And then, Big Thief announced they were going to play every song they had ever recorded for the first time ever. That’s nearly 40 songs across one night. One Monday night to exact.
But Big Thief was serious. So serious, in fact, that Lenker felt the need to tell the crowd that they were welcome to leave the concert at any point if it got too late or too overwhelming.
And they just dug-in. At first, it was easy to differentiate track by track, but soon they just started to blend together. It was almost like they mixed all these different colors together, but instead of getting brownish-black, it was a color that was at once every color but also no color ever seen before.
Their music, that night, had this essence to it that seemed to transcend this realm, as if it had been “Interstellar-ed” in from another dimension, not by all-powerful beings looking to save us but just to impart some calming good vibes upon us.
The show was also testament to the fact that performing live is an art form in itself. In lieu of conventional stage charisma, all the members of BT simply had this look of contained passion that was downright intoxicating. They exuded a warmth sort of artistry that reflected all at once of love of their music, a love of their band and a love for their audience.
What was all that special to it, is that it didn’t really matter if you stuck around for the first hour or stayed around till the very end — very single moment of their performance encapsulated the whole.
Admittedly, I took up the offer to leave early. It was getting late, and Big Thief showed no signs of stopping. Still, there was a sense of completeness that resonated with the very first notes they plaid.
Live music often manifests emotions and a very grounded sense of existence — a connection to a whole and a community. What Big Thief managed to do was even more special. Instead of making the individual gain a sense of the whole, they allowed for the whole to feel like an individual. Everyone felt connected as if we were all listening, playing music and remembering it all in real time.
What a Monday night it was.