- by Mark Moody Rating: Release Date: Label:
Not a lot of touring bands make the commitment to venture down into Florida on a regular basis, but in the days following Atlanta’s Shaky Knees festival a virtual cornucopia of acts came south of the Georgia border. In the Tampa Bay area the following week there were shows by Shaky Knees' alumni Tyler Childers, Interpol, Foxing, Slothrust, and maybe more. But the easy pick for us was the combination of Lucy Dacus and Mothers the Tuesday following.
It’s not often you get to see two artists off of your top five albums list from the year before, so it was a no brainer to catch these two at one of the more cozy indie friendly clubs in town. First up was a forty-five minute set from Georgia born, but Philly based Mothers. Totally mesmerized with their sophomore album, Render Another Ugly Method, last year and having heard great things about their live set as well, I was anxious to see leader Kristine Leschper and her band perform. Leschper both began and ended the set solo with guitar and synths. First off on the older ‘Too Small For Eyes’, Leschper sung in a higher register to an appropriately hushed audience. Accompanied by only the hum of the A/C on full blast, it was a captivating start. With her band joining her, it was easy to see the jazz like precision that drummer Matthew Anderegg brings to the table. ‘FULL CIRCLE’ from Render played out with a stop/start rhythm coming to a crash at the end. The group moved to a fuller power on ‘No Crying In Baseball’, but the set highlight was ‘FAT CHANCE’ from Render. The song evidenced what made that album so powerful - a psychedelic drift carried by Leschper’s vocals somehow underpinned with the band’s thread of urgency. The interplay of Leschper’s guitar line with the fast twitch of Anderegg’s drumming on ‘PINK’ was a good one to close out the full band’s set. And if you like obscure covers, how about Leschper’s solo take on Doopees’ ‘Love in Gas Music #2’. Not your typical indie band, it’s nice to see Mothers taking a more challenging, but no less compelling route.
After a very quick set change, which was much appreciated by me after three days at Shaky Knees and some travel delays on the way back, Lucy Dacus and her three piece band took the stage. Having seen Dacus at the festival and as part of the boygenius tour in the past, it was great to see a full set that let her range a little more with less tight time confines. Dacus opened and closed with unrecorded material which she asked the audience not to film. I won’t give away much, but safe to say that her insightful songwriting is in tact - whether singing about “the fall of man and the evening news” or devastatingly detailing a friend’s toxic family relationship.
After opening with the new song, the rat-a-tat rimshots from drummer Ricardo Lagomasino called out the opening of ‘Addictions’ that was followed by ‘The Shell’ and ‘Nonbeliever’ - all from last year’s Historian. Given the longer set, Dacus pulled a few songs from her debut including a bluesy and smoky voiced ‘Green Eyes, Red Face’. Another three song run through ‘La Vie En Rose’, a hotly played ‘Yours and Mine’, and ‘Body to Flame’ gave her bandmates some time to stretch out. In addition to Lagomasino, Dacus was accompanied by longtime guitarist and production partner Jacob Blizard and bassist Dominic Angelella. Dacus broke the build in power long enough to play a spare take on the revealing ‘My Mother and I’.
The latter half of the set included the anthemic builds of both ‘Map On A Wall’ and audience sing-a-long on ‘Night Shift’. While the rush of ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore’ had her dancing a few steps with Angelella (with his slyly hidden Buccee’s sticker on his bass he’s okay with me). A few days on from wearing an empathetic “Who Taught You How To Hate Yourself” t-shirt, Dacus’ closing song was an emotional stunner where she portrayed strength to ward off a friend’s familial abuser. The nearly sold out crowd clearly came knowing all of Dacus’ songs by heart and hanging on every word it was one of the more attentive local crowds I’ve seen lately. Though Dacus isn't doing encores these days, her and Mothers' sets made for a perfect dessert on the heels of the feast of Shaky Knees.
Dacus has wrapped her U.S. dates for a while, but will be touring extensively in the U.K. and Europe this Summer including at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival.
All photos: Christa Joyner Moody (link to live music photo gallery here)