Music Review

Lucy Dacus turns understatement into something beguiling

Lucy Dacus performs at the Sinclair.
Ben Stas for The Boston Globe
Lucy Dacus performs at the Sinclair.

CAMBRIDGE — As the stage lights came up at the Sinclair Wednesday night, 22-year-old Lucy Dacus quietly said, “Hello. Well, there are a lot of you.”

“There’s only one of you!” a male voice shouted back from the sold-out crowd of more than 500. That seems to be the general consensus that has propelled the singer-songwriter-guitarist from private bedroom recordings to a music label bidding war and national press attention in less than three years.

“I’ve been looking forward to this show the whole tour,” said the Richmond, Va., native three songs into her 75-minute set. Dacus came bearing the modest trappings of underground rock success to make the most of it — a hollow-bodied Gretsch guitar, an opening splash of dry ice, and three expert backing musicians, each bespectacled like Dacus and dressed in shades of gray to match her black-striped sweater and jeans. The setting tastefully complemented a set of earnest, searching songs so beguiling that many of the college-age female fans who dominated the crowd sang back their slow, winding intros as well as their rousing, catchy choruses.


On the surface, Dacus herself seemed hardly convinced of her gifts. Every song was delivered in the same warm yet thoroughly restrained monotone, an affectless style she shares with successes from Mitski to Courtney Barnett. In reaction, the fans sometimes seemed to restrain their sing-alongs, just as lead guitarist Jacob Blizard held back on his clean solos.

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Even so, the restraint was also part of the allure, and Dacus revealed her secret self-assurance by committing the show’s first 45 minutes entirely to her month-old second album, “Historian,” from the easy-rolling “Addictions” to the slow-building “Pillar of Truth.” A set of meandering older songs followed, until Dacus revived the set with her first hit, “I Don’t Want to Be Funny Anymore” and the new album opener “Night Shift.”

“I wish I could copy-paste you for every crowd,” said Dacus before her one-song encore, “Historians,” proving she does want to be funny, at least a little bit.

Adult Mom opened with a simple set of confessional indie-rock that broke no molds. Massachusetts’s And the Kids followed with an excellent set that showed indie-rock can also be about creative interplay and oddball playfulness.


With And the Kids, Adult Mom


At: The Sinclair, Wednesday

Franklin Soults can be reached at