Having played at the Voodoo Rooms a few years ago, Lucy Dacus asks if any of the 100 or so people there had come back tonight, and only myself and one or two others give any sort of response. She then gives a quick thanks and smile, a seeming recognition of her meteoric rise over the last three years. Along with other breakout singer-songwriters like Phoebe Bridgers and Tomberlin, Dacus has carved out a niche as being particularly confessional for someone working in a genre that practically demands it. But she’s also on the rockier end of the spectrum when it comes to the introspective peers she’s lumped in with. It’s a dichotomy she’s comfortable flitting between, showcased wonderfully this evening at Leith Theatre.
Triple Dog Dare is a teasing opener, withholding its chorus for almost four minutes before finally letting its hair down and allowing the band to flex its noisy impulses. Almost the entirety of last year’s Home Video is played (only Cartwheel is missing), but given the enthusiasm (and average age), it doesn’t seem like this is a crowd interested in the oldies. Hot & Heavy, Brando, and VBS all get big reactions and mass sing-a-longs while emotional hard hitters like Thumbs are met with reverent silence punctuated by just the occasional sniffle. Special mention is due to Partner in Crime, which Lucy tells us was written while in Edinburgh – a fact casually dropped while giving props to the city.
The sole song from Dacus’ debut album, I Don’t Wanna be Funny Anymore is raw compared to the synthy polish of the new ones, but tees us up nicely for Kissing Lessons and a delightful cover of Cher’s Believe (the crowd may be young, but know when respect is due to a legend). Night Shift is one of only two songs from her album Historian (Addictions features early on), which makes a total of three songs that are more than 18 months old. Still, this slow burner is on its way to classic status, exploding into a melancholic fever that gives the band one last chance to live out those classic rock dreams.
The encore is a single, simple song which is just Dacus on acoustic guitar. It’s a new one, possibly named Bus, about burgeoning love on a conflicted New Year’s Eve (with LCD Soundsystem references). The lyrical directness is reminiscent of Thumbs, though not quite as harrowing, and it’s a sweet moment to end on, reinforcing Dacus’ connection with her fans, and their obvious reciprocal love.