Big Thief Deliver a Powerful Set at TNK Fest Night One
The Brooklyn-based band headline a sold out Schubas as part of Chicago's annual Tomorrow Never Knows Festival
“Best song of 2017!” exclaims at audience member, after the Brooklyn based band Big Thief finish their popular track “Paul.” It’s a Wednesday evening at a completely packed Schubas Tavern, and the first night of Chicago’s annual 5-day festival Tomorrow Never Knows. “We’ve got a long way to go….I hope we can make it,” lead singer Adrianne Lenker responds.
Forty minutes prior to this exchange, give or take a few minutes, the usually four-piece Big Thief made their way on stage sans guitarist Buck Meek, opening with a new track “Cut My Hair.” It’s nearly midnight by the time the band starts, headlining a stellar line up of Campdogzz, Hoops, and Sam Evian, but from the minute Adrianne sang out the first line of her narrative-style lyrics, the crowd was mesmerized. After playing new tracks called “Those Girls” and “Shark Smile,” Big Thief played some crowd favorites, “Vegas” and “Real Love” from their debut album Masterpiece. The title track of the debut album immediately followed, the crowd singing along with Adrianne’s cutting, yet delicate vocals.
The streak of older tunes ended and more new tunes followed, each still possessing Adrianne’s signature story-telling structure and emotive delivery. Before playing the tune “Parallels” from the first album, Adrianne addressed the heavy presence of new songs on the set list, saying “We’re doing a lot of new songs, and we’re gonna do a few more…but not at this moment.” Cut to the band playing “Paul,” and the exchange that happened between an enthusiastic fan and Adrianne.
Despite the fact that they were missing a band member, the remaining three bandmates all displayed incredible musicianship, with a no frills stage set up (they even had handwritten set lists) that allowed for the crowd to focus solely on the music. Adrianne chatted briefly a few times between songs, connecting with the audience, but the rest of the time it was like Adrianne, James, and Max were in their own world with a magnetic energy coursing between each of them on stage. The band managed to further lure in their audience by being so well connected and in-tune with each other.
The hour-long set winded down with a couple more older tracks, including “Velvet Ring” and the single “Humans.” Adrianne chatted to the still-mesmerized crowd before their final song, thanking everyone for coming out and mentioning they already have a new record finished. “We’re just getting ready to make some copies of it. It’s gonna come out in the spring, and a lot of these songs will be on there,” she continued. The set wrapped up around 12:50AM, with a new track shown on the set list as “Terminal.”