Posted by: Andrea Busch
Adrianne Lenker walked out with an acoustic guitar and a tan ceramic mug, the first was strapped around her torso and the other she carried in her left hand and promptly set down next to the microphone stand. She stood on the stage alone with a single spotlight on her.
The venue was sold out, and the crowd was completely silent while she played. Everyone stood completely still, eyes glued to the stage, as Lenker flawlessly moved through her songs. Every couple of songs there were long pauses when she had to tune her guitar, and Lenker would make small talk to fill the long gaps.
A few songs in, under a blue spotlight, Lenker reached down for the mug and started to talk about a dream she had the night before.
“I was standing in a field with a little girl…and she was looking at me. It took a minute but I saw that she had a pair of scissors in her right hand…and she lunged at me and took off a good chunk of my hair! Right here!” She tugged at the left side of her forehead, “and it was so visceral, the feeling was so strong…it’s not like you can make your hair grow faster! Hurry up hair! And anyway, I was wondering if this means I should get a haircut.” She then launched into her song “Cut My Hair”. It would feel very rehearsed, except Lenker says everything with a kind sincerity that makes it hard to think it’s planned.
The opener, Luke Temple, joined her for a couple songs in the middle of her show. After they played “Cradle,” she declared “That was my one political song…no it wasn’t. But what if it was! What if it more that was it is on the surface…not that it matters…borders and people blend…we’re all just one blob, actually.” She paused for a moment, and then asked where she should get breakfast in the morning. The crowd immediately started to yell their suggestions.
After they played a bluesy version of “out of your mind” Temple waved goodbye to the audience, the single spotlight returned.
Lenker played “Pretty Things,” a song from one of the Big Thief albums, towards the end of the show. After it ended, she looked up from her guitar strings and sounded both playful and pleased when she said “Oh, look at all of you. You’re all still here!”
Towards the end of the show people were yelling out songs they wanted her to play, and one of them screamed “Kerina! Kerina! Play Kerina!”
Lenker paused in the middle of her tuning, looked up and said, “Oh! That sounds fun.” She called out to the soundboard operator to see if she had enough time, he held up two thumbs. She played it, and then left the stage without an encore.
After the show I went up to the soundbooth and asked, in a kind of overly hopeful way, if there was any chance they had a setlist I could copy down. The one who signaled to her earlier shook his head at me, “Adrianne always kinda goes with whatever she feels like.”
On my way out of the venue, I heard someone excitedly say “I just knew she was going to play ‘Capacity’ tonight! She hasn’t played it all tour, but I knew that it was going to happen.” And I understood why they felt like that. Lenker played a sold out show at Lincoln Hall like it was an intimate performance among friends, and everyone in the crowd went along with it.
Adrianne Lenker’s latest solo album abysskiss was released in October, 2018