Lucy Dacus at White Oak Music Hall (9/18/21)

Photos: Brenna Mata | Review: Tammy Chang

My first show back was also my first time reviewing a concert on behalf of HTXVOX. I was a little anxious at first because I’m someone who hasn’t gone out very much during the pandemic even after getting vaccinated, for fear of bringing the virus back home. However, after hearing from friends who had recently attended concerts, and reading that about the precautions in place for Lucy Dacus’ tour, I felt much more confident. In her Instagram tour announcement, she actually wrote: “Y’all know that we are requiring vaccination or a negative test within 48 hours and ~strongly encouraging~ masks, but what I would really love is for everyone attending to be vaccinated, have a recent negative test, and wear a mask the whole time.”

By 9 pm, the downstairs at White Oak Music Hall was packed and the laid-back crowd from earlier had started buzzing with energy, hyped for the show to start.

After the opener Palehound played and 10 minutes before Lucy Dacus was set to hit the stage, the giant analog television screen on stage whirred to life. Vignettes of a young Lucy played on loop: her as a baby, as a young child singing into a microphone, eating birthday cake, and playing with Winnie the Pooh. Each time a particularly cute video popped on screen, the crowd would “aw” together. It was a very special touch to share these literal home videos on the tour supporting her newest album, “Home Video.”

Static broke up the last snippet of video, which indicated that Lucy was about to walk on stage with her band – Dominic on bass and guitar, Sarah on keys, Ricardo on drums, and Jacob on guitar – to exuberant cheers and whoops. “Triple Dog Dare” **began, the perfect song to ease us into the night. Slow, steady, and cinematic, Lucy began to sing. The crowd joined in for the first few lines, but fell soon fell silent as they decided to just watch her do her thing.

“First Time” played **next and took us up-tempo, to everyone’s excitement. This song features a bumping beat that had the crowd swaying around. I wondered what Lucy and the band saw from the other side of the stage – if even under the lights they could see how much they were affecting people, or if they could see everyone singing along. I hoped they knew how much fun we were all having.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that in response to Texas passing some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, Lucy Dacus has spoken up and literally put her money where her mouth is. On September 2nd, she tweeted the following:

Lucy has elaborated on her thoughts further in an article from *Rolling Stone* and **doubled up on her promise to donate “everything [they’re] going to make at these shows on merch and from tickets.” At Saturday’s show, the merch tables also featured “FGA” t-shirts, designed by local artist Miranda Oxendine and produced by Mister Teej’s Print Shopin Houston. Lucy shouted them out at various points throughout the night, encouraging fans to buy the shirts with all profits going towards Lilith Fund. You can buy one HERE!

Each time the crowd joined in on the choruses for “Hot & Heavy” and “Yours & Mine,” I was filled with emotion. Right before “VBS” started, Lucy asked: “How many of y’all went to vacation bible school?” A large part of the “Home Video” album details Dacus reconciling her religious upbringing with a youthful journey of sexual and self-discovery. Here in the Bible Belt, this theme hits hard. It felt very healing to be in a room full of queer people from the South, with their hands in the air and singing about church, in a space filled with unconditional acceptance and belonging. In her red blazer and matching lipstick, Lucy stood on stage like the cool camp counselor we all needed growing up.

Lucy rocked through a pink-toned cover of “La vie en rose” by Édith Piaf, which made my friend turn to me in shock, yelling “IS SHE SINGING IN FRENCH?” Each song was performed masterfully and showcased how talented the band was in creating a spellbinding live show. Lucy herself would frequently switch guitars according to the music, and at one point even picked up the bass and said with a smile, “I play bass now.” Her bandmates also backed her up on vocals, and my favorite part was when she and Sarah, the keyboardist, harmonized. Their voices together were so sweet and soothing.

“Partner in Crime” marked a shift in sound – on the album, it’s a moody, auto-tuned track that translated into a sparkly, live Owl City moment with Lucy’s voice filtered through a digitized mic. The crowd hushed when the band played longtime fan-favorite “Thumbs.” An animation of friends holding hands played in the background as Lucy clasped her own and sang intently: “I would kill him, if you let me. I would kill him, quick and easy.”

“Going Going Gone” was the highlight of my night. The band stripped it back and circled up around an imaginary campfire to play the sweet little ditty on acoustic guitar. This was the most interactive song of the night – even those unfamiliar with the lyrics could sing along to “going out, going out, ooh, going, going out.” It was really heartwarming to see the back and forth between Lucy, the band, and the audience.

“Night Shift” was the last song before encore. Lucy, lovely as ever, took a minute to say: “Thank you for singing and being so gracious with your attention. This just the coolest job ever and I’ve missed it a lot,” vocalizing the same feelings that we all felt about live music being back.

Finally, Lucy closed the night with a brand new song, which I found listed on setlist.fm as “Bus” – and that is all I am at liberty to share at the moment, because she made us all pinky promise not to record it.

At 11:45 pm on the dot, the show is over and Lucy walks offstage, clutching her blue water bottle. The crowd files out slowly, as we all readjust to reality. For 2 hours and 45 minutes, we were all in an entirely different place, but together. On my way home, after I drop off my friend, I queue up a Spotify playlist of tonight’s songs, already nostalgic about the experience and waiting for the next show.

lucydacus.com