On Wednesday July 26th Brooklyn-based band Big Thief played a massive sold-out show at the Old National Centre's Egyptian Room, taking the 2,000-plus fans in attendance on a lo-fi indie rock and alt-folk journey via eighteen of their well-crafted songs.
Opener Nick Hakim's mega-mellow husky-voiced indie-soul stylings were well-received by the crowd, who didn't seem to mind that he introduced his backing band twice during the set - possibly forgetting he had already done so after only a few songs. With a drummer, bass player, and guitarist behind him, Hakim went back and forth between being seated at his keyboards and standing to serenade the crowd whilst playing guitar.
It was an understated set, although quite soulful. What the stage show lacked in unique lighting and decoration it made up for a tight performance between the four band members. You can purchase music by Nick Hakim from Indy CD & Vinyl HERE.
The Big Thief crowd could be divided into two distinct groups: the front half being quite young and focused on holding their spot of carpet for the duration of the concert, and the back half of the room reserved for older beer-drinking urban professional alternatives - just as much a fan as a younger audience member but possibly not as invested in hanging on every word, every note, seen by the fans hugging the front rail and happily crying as Adrienne Lenker and the band took the stage.
The chef's kiss belonged to Lenker at the outset, playing the solo track "Indiana," a clever homage to Adrienne's Hoosier roots that was not lost to those in the front along the safety barricade. It wasn't a particularly loud performance by the band, at times the crowd in front was more clearly audible with their singing along than Big Thief was themselves; however, this parlayed into a fantastic scene during the encore where Lenker and the crowd sang along together the song "Paul" in a-capella style after the band had been badgered throughout the night requests for the tune.
The show was performed during a typically hot and humid mid-summer night in Indianapolis, creating an interesting, if not unsettling, moment which occurred during the fifth song of the set. The band stopped the tune "Not" about halfway through as Lenker requested help for a fan in the middle of the crowd in apparent distress from the heat. The spotlights from the stage shined on the middle of the crowd as the entire room fell into a hush. Truly the most interesting thing to me was, as security took the cue and rushed to help the overheated patron, that the band members stood still during the entire episode (about a full five minutes) and didn't talk amongst themselves nor to the crowd. They just stood there silently, as the staff did their thing. It matched a bit with the dour appearance of Lenker and much of the subject matter of their songs, the scene had a way of caring about the unfortunate incident in the crowd while keeping fully in character, and then showcasing the playing chops of the band by picking the song up exactly where they had left off with nothing more than a four-count from their drummer, James Krivchenia. Guitarist Buck Meek and bassist Max Oleartchik were right back into the thick of what might have been the meatiest song of the set, with a few flashy solos from Meek while Lenker's full-sounding rhythm guitar on the song filling out the sound. It was impressive.
Big Thief Returns To Indy With Massive Sold Out Show
Review and photos by Andy Skinner for Indy CD & Vinyl
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