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Lucy Dacus, Indigo De Souza bring sad-girl indie to First Ave

Despite Dacus’ back injury, the two artists created a buzzing atmosphere at the sold-out tour stop in Minneapolis.
Image by Ethan Fine
Musician Lucy Dacus performs at First Avenue on Thursday, Feb. 17. Dacus performed with Indigo De Souza.

“Sometimes I think a little bit too much about what’s going on,” said singer-songwriter Indigo De Souza as she looked bashfully across the packed main room of First Avenue. “[Performing] is what I love to do, but it’s a little horrifying.”

Horrifying is not the word I would use to describe De Souza’s hard-to-top opening act, but ravishing, commanding or intoxicating might do the trick.

Almost a year after selling out, Lucy Dacus fans brought plenty of pent-up energy to a long-awaited show. The tour date was rescheduled for Feb. 17 after a band member’s positive COVID-19 test forced a cancellation last fall. This time, even Dacus’ two herniated discs couldn’t get in the way of a night of indie rock joy.

To kick off the evening, De Souza performed a short setlist of songs that needed no explanation: her sprawling vocals and dark lyrics told the whole story. The artist writhed in the pain of heartbreak, belting through gritted teeth and proving her range. She mixed in some old songs from her debut LP “I Love My Mom” and showcased new work with the more recent album “Any Shape You Take.”

Attendees seemed to be rightfully delighted with the budding star’s performance. An extended round of applause prompted the house lights to turn on before De Souza closed her set with the sardonically titled “Kill Me.” The finale built from purely vocals and guitar to an explosive rock ending that properly prepared the audience for the rest of the night’s excitement.

The room buzzed after De Souza stepped off stage and dozens of crew members began preparing for the main attraction. When they pulled out a black leather couch, those who follow Dacus spoke sympathetically while others googled “Lucy Dacus back injury” to get caught up. Finally, the star walked onstage and into the hearts of the cheering crowd.

Musician Lucy Dacus performs at First Avenue on Thursday, Feb. 17. Dacus performed with Indigo De Souza. (Ethan Fine)

Right off the bat, it was clear that Dacus’ injury wasn’t going to inhibit her performance. Anyone who has taken a choir class knows how difficult it is to sing while laying down, but Dacus’ well trained, tender alto voice filled the room from the start.

A sequence of three songs equipped with building vocals, flashing lights and a head-banging guitarist was an appropriate start to Dacus’ set. Although she is typically known for her emotional lyrics and easy-going melodies, this show proved that you can definitely jump and dance to her songs.

When the artist unnecessarily-but-humbly sat up to introduce herself, she told the audience that she’d been waiting for this show for her entire life. It was likely a lot of fans felt the same. Later, Dacus explained: “I’m a big Prince fan so being here is highly emotional. I texted my mom about it.”

It wasn’t difficult to tell that Dacus was having just as much fun as the audience was. She continuously cracked jokes and giggled throughout lyrics, creating a laid-back atmosphere in the potentially-intimidating room of 1500 concert-goers.

The set continued with fan favorites including “Hot & Heavy” and “VBS” before a sweet cover of Édith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.” Although I wouldn’t have been too surprised if Dacus’ talents included speaking French, she sang the English version and dedicated it “to all the lovebirds out there.” She also covered “Home Again” by Carole King, prompting many cheers from all the 70s fans in the crowd.

Dacus described “Going Going Gone” as a sing-along and “a little bit of serotonin” before simultaneously breaking hearts and putting them back together with “Thumbs.” The slow song about a lousy father obviously struck a chord with the audience — you could hear the whole room collectively exhale as it began.

Although she mainly performed songs from her most recent album, “Home Video,” a few oldies were thrown in the mix to satisfy the longtime fans in the crowd. Dacus’ newest single, “Kissing Lessons” was performed, with the singer explaining to the crowd that it was the first song she wrote for “Home Video” but ended up not including it because it was “too cute.”

In lieu of the time it would take to pull off the pre-planned encore typical of non-injured performers, Dacus chatted with the audience and introduced her final song, “Night Shift.” She belted out, “You’ve got a 9 to 5 / so I’ll take the night shift / And I’ll never see you again if I can help it.”

I can’t speak for the rest of the attendees, but I’ll certainly do everything I can to see Lucy Dacus again.

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