On Tuesday night, March 7th, Big Thief played the Rickshaw in San Francisco. Driving into the city to hear music on a weeknight is my version of bliss.
Adrianne Lenker states on the band’s bio page that their music speaks to “the masterpiece of existence, which is always folding into itself, people attempting to connect, to both shake themselves awake and to shake off the numbness of certain points in their life. The interpretations might be impressionistic or surrealistic, but they’re grounded in simple things.” Lenker’s voice and Meek’s guitar playing connected last night.
What makes Big Thief unique is their connection, their blending of tones, improvisation, poetry, rock, and of course Lenker’s voice. On stage the group goes in and out of huddles around drummer Krivchenia in a dance that mirrors their dynamic shifts and accents. A feather dangles from Max Oleartchik’s bass. The sellout crowd and the drunk in the back stop talking.
Lenker is on the record about listening to her dad’s Pat Metheny albums as a child. When I asked, Lenker named One Quiet Night her favorite of Metheny’s albums. Upon first listen, it makes sense. Mood landscapes and reverb guitar wash over you.
A few years back I went to a jazz composition workshop hosted by my former UCLA teacher Anthony Wilson. He wanted us to check out how Judy Sill uses harmony in the song “the kiss.” Lenker does too. Apparently jazz musicians like rock and rock musicians like jazz.
Songs on tonight’s set list:
“Paul”– “I’ll be your record player baby if you know what I mean. I’ll be your real tough cookie with the whisky breath.”
“Masterpiece”-The guitar intro makes me feel the entire song in 2 measures. Is that possible? Fits with the opening lines “years, days, makes no difference to me babe.”
“Real Love”– “real love makes your lungs black, real love is a heart attack.”
“Indiana”– How much can be done with guitar and voice? A lot. Not sure they will play this song tonight, but I hope they do. Sound can be a warm blanket, this is proof.(update-didn’t play it and didn’t have the lp)
PS How does Meek get that sound on his guitar? (Learn more about pedals). Bring sharpie to concerts.