Live Review: Lucy Dacus - EartH, London 05/06/2019
EartH is somewhat of a strange venue. The multi-arts space launched a crowd-funding campaign at the end of last year, in order to revive the old Savoy cinema that sits on the cusp of Dalston and Stoke Newington. The music hall looks like an old roman amphitheater – and whilst it has been ‘restored’ it still maintains that rustic, deteriorating, feel. I think it takes a very specific kind of performer to shine on this stage, and Lucy Dacus comes close.
EartH has a kind of half-moon shaped stage which makes it impossible for there to be anywhere to hide – it is exposed in a way that is almost dauntingly inescapable. This works in Dacus’ favour as it perfectly mirrors her alarmingly honest and personal lyrics, which allows her charming presence to be felt. Since everybody is technically sat on the floor, it feels as though we are at a hippy commune waiting to be serenaded by one of our own. After playing the unreleased ‘Fools Gold’ Dacus explains to the crowd that this isn’t an “ideal venue” as she normally prefers to sit whilst playing, but understands that there is always a dispute between fans wanting to sit or stand so she absolves us all guilt in the matter.
Whilst the shape of the venue allows for beautifully crisp acoustics, there is something quite harsh about the way the cymbals reverberate around the room. ‘Addictions’ and ‘Nonbeliever’ are delivered with sincere perfection and what was first exposing and daunting shifts into an intimate experience to the point of feeling like you’re bearing witness to a polished rehearsal session. The rattling guitar intro to ‘La Vie En Rose’ incites a whoop from bodies in the crowd who are clearly well-versed in every sound that belongs to Dacus. Whilst the set is uncomplicated and a seamlessly perfect performance, Lucy shines during moments in which she’s tuning her guitar and her witty humour comes into play.
Before introducing the hopelessness that she felt whilst writing ‘Yours & Mine’, Dacus stops to ask whether or not Donald Trump is still in the UK. “Fuck that guy. I would’ve said it if he was here or not, cause he’s definitely not here.” She goes on to say that she feels like the US is a cool place that sucks – much like her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. ‘Yours & Mine’ is a swinging bluesy prelude to the show-stopping ‘Timefighter’. Bathed in fluorescent magenta, the whimsical guitar riffs whirl around Dacus’ sultry breathy words that grow with urgency as the song develops. “I’m just as good as anybody” she announces before the band erupt into a scratchy and intense communal screaming through instruments.
Cunning lyricism is rife throughout Dacus’ set, and it couldn’t be more subtly displayed with the poignant ‘My Mother and I’. This is one of the newest songs that she has written. When her drummer departs the stage, her bassist and guitarist sit on the floor as though around a campfire, whilst Dacus plays with a machine that appears to be projecting the whisperings of ghostly apparitions. “My mother hates her body. We share the same outline; she swears she loves mine.” This leads into ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore’ with lines like “I don’t wanna be funny anymore. I got a too-short skirt, maybe I could be the cute one?”
‘Night Shift’ brings the communion to a head with Dacus asking everyone to stand and sing along because despite not wanting to be an “audience participation bro” the song sounds “really silly when the energy is low”. After a shiver-inducing performance of one of her best songs, Dacus announces that she is going to play another new song that is yet to be recorded and politely requests the crowd not to record it, and also informs the crowd that she will not be doing an encore as she thinks that they are “corny”. Finishing the set as she started it, Dacus is alone with her guitar and her shimmering presence is heart-warming.
Words by Tyler Damara Kelly