On Monday night, I arrived early to the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow and watched as the crowed trickled into the venue. Quickly, I went from standing alone in a mostly empty room to being swallowed by a crowd and pinned awkwardly between two groups of friends and one young couple. The room swelled as the sold-out venue waited for Big Thief to take the stage.
As a band, Big Thief toes the line between alternative, indie, folk and country. Solid, strong guitar tones evoke a true country twang, while lead guitar lines keep it interesting, modern and alternative. From the very start the band was in true form. Adrianne Lenker showed an incredible and artistic vocal range, while also crushing it on guitar. Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass) and James Krivchenia (drums) left nothing to be desired. The chemistry of the band, as well as each member's talent, created a beautiful symphony of sound. At points it seemed impossible that all the different tones could be coming from only four instruments.
Big Thief released two albums in 2019, U.F.O.F in May and Two Hands in October. Yet, throughout the set, the band played not one, but three brand new tracks. It was clear that the poetry that drives Big Thief's lyrics pours out of Lenker. Their story of writing 'Not' in Scotland, on a travel guitar in the bathroom of a house in the country side, painted an even bigger picture of the pure talent and raw emotion the seems to flow unimpeded into Big Thief's music.
With an extensive catalogue, Big Thief could have comfortably filly the show without ever going back to their most famous, older tracks. Instead, they did the complete opposite. Not only did they play many of their most famous songs, including 'Shark Smile' and 'Masterpiece', but they rejuvenated them in a way that inspired fun. The band was having fun, the crowd was having fun. I have been to shows where the band drags through their most famous songs because they see it as an obligation. Big Thief turned this idea on its head and we all got to party together to the tracks that everyone loves. The stand out song of the night was 'Mythological Beauty'. It was the song we all know and love, but made even bolder, louder and more energetic.
After well over an hour of music, the band left the stage. When they returned for one final encore track, it lacked energy and created a mildly confusing finished to the night. Then the lights came back up, it was suddenly all over and the packed room was filing out the doors and onto the street.