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Lucy Dacus @ The Hi-Fi, Indianapolis (4/7/18)

There may be no major indie rock act today who is quite as well  suited to a cozy small venue as Lucy Dacus. At her Indianapolis debut in  Fountain Square, the singer-songwriter proved that she is worth every  ounce of hype her new record has brought. The two wonderfully fun,  high-energy opening sets from Adult Mom and And the Kids would have made  for a perfectly good concert on their own, and the crowd seemed to be  satisfied even before getting any sight of the headliner. But as it  neared 11:00p.m., Lucy Dacus and her band emerged from backstage in a  single-file line with uniformly greyscale apparel and were met with warm  applause.

Image by Ryan Fine

Dacus arrived at the Hi-Fi in support of her near-flawless sophomore album Historian: a  patient, sugar-sweet record released just over a month before the  concert. She opened her set by playing eight songs from the album in a  row, beginning with its most upbeat rock single “Addictions” and  progressing almost sequentially through its tracklist.

This effectively put several slower tracks together in the setlist,  taking the already-intimate barroom venue and making it feel more like a  coffee shop. By the time she got to the blues-tinted ballad “Yours  & Mine,” each audience member was fully focused on the performance  as if she were singing directly to them. She introduced the song as  being about things in the world that suck, and thanked the crowd for  singing along and creating a “healing moment” for her.

The energy picked up a little bit after that with a transition to the  quicker guitars of “Body to Flame,” a beautiful track about the ongoing  mystery of getting to know other peoples’ internal struggles.  “Timefighter,” which filled the next slot, was one of the clear  highlights of the night. One of the show’s loudest and most intense  moments, the song brought a boomy, disgusting bass tone to a night that  risked sounding a bit too uniformly pretty.

Once Dacus finished her Historian run with the tragic and  stunning “Pillar of Truth,” she announced that she would shift to play  some older songs from her first album No Burden. Tuning her  guitar by playing a chord that could have pointed to any number of songs  from that album, she eventually began playing “Map on a Wall.” This  song, along with the companion songs “Dream State…” and “…Familiar  Place,” led to a segment that leaned heavily on the quieter moments of No Burden. Though it was nice to hear those songs, it would have also been nice to hear some of the more upbeat songs as well.

Image by Ryan Fine

But even with the absence of “Troublemaker Doppelganger” and “Strange  Torpedo,” she did have time to include her first mini-hit “I Don’t  Wanna Be Funny Anymore.” Unsurprisingly, this was one of the best  singalong moments of the show, only topped by the next song on the list.  After the song’s final trailing moments, Dacus said that her next song  would be the last one (but acknowledged with air quotes that she likely  had an encore planned).

Every good musical artist needs a song that can turn their live shows  into a warm community experience, and for Lucy Dacus, that song is  “Night Shift.” Sprawling and emotional, “Night Shift” is the first and  best song from Historian, and in the context of the album it  pulls the listener in right from the beginning and guarantees a gorgeous  album to come. At her Indianapolis show, she closed her main set with  this song, and by the time the climactic chorus came around there was  hardly a mouth in the room that was not full of its words. When it was  over, Lucy Dacus and her band thanked the crowd and walked offstage to  an applause thunderous enough to carry through to the encore set.

The song she chose to bring the show to its genuine conclusion was  “Historians,” the final track from the album of a similar name. This is  maybe the mellowest song in her catalogue, and for the first time that  night, hardly anyone in the audience even attempted to sing along.  Instead, Dacus was greeted with a deserved wide-eyed reverence as the  audience absorbed the reserved atmosphere for the last time. Though in  many ways it was different from the rest of her set, it made for the  perfect epilogue to an impeccably crafted, well-told story.

Featured image from The 405

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