(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) — Brooklyn-based indie-rock group Big Thief brings its ethereal guitar-rock – think Cowboy Junkies crossed with Sonic Youth – to Club B-10 at MASS MoCA on Saturday, November 5, at 8pm. The group also performs at BSP Kingston in Kingston, N.Y., on Thursday, November 3, at 7pm, in support of Damien Jurado.
Led by singer-guitarist-songwriter Adrianne Lenker, the band shifts nimbly between lo-fi acoustic and throwback rock hooks. Lenker and guitarist-singer Buck Meek began their creative friendship after meeting in Brooklyn, culminating in a pair of collaborative albums titled “A-Sides” and “B-Sides.” Lenker and Meek took the show on the road, spending years performing in backyards, barns, and basements, and living the rubber-tramping road life together. On this journey, they gained a couple partners and Big Thief was born.
Meek’s single-line leads curl around Lenker’s achy, vulnerable, high-pitched vocals and anxiety-laden lyrics (“real love is a heart attack”) for a kind of beauty-and-the-beast effect that recalls Nico and the Velvet Underground.
Complemented by Max Oleartchik on bass and James Krivchenia on drums, Big Thief builds a montage of memory, life, love, and the heartache of human experience. In Lenker’s words, Big Thief’s debut album “Masterpiece” tracks “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.” She may be talking about the songs themselves, but this is as good a description of the music as any.
In June, NPR listeners voted the band the best new artist of 2016’s first half. “The power of Big Thief lies in the stunning voice of Adrianne Lenker — as well as the band’s intense rhythms, the guitar playing of Buck Meek and, right, the lyrics. Come to think of it, everything this band does serves the muscular warmth of these brilliant songs, which are not only memorable, but meaningful” (NPR Music).
Lickety Spit, MASS MoCA’s café, serves up crisp salads, hearty soups, and lip-smacking pub fare. A full bar serves Bright Ideas Brewing beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $10 for students, $12 advance, $18 day of, and $24 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.