There is a collective sigh of relief as hordes of Doc Marten-wearing, self-dyed hair sporting fans find their place below the twinkling cerulean blue ceiling. Back in June, Lucy Dacus emerged from the wings at The Forum, where I pressed myself against the cool metal barricade, waiting to experience some kind of catharsis – to escape.
When Dacus walks out on stage, she appears like an apparition, glowing under the spurs of red and blue light that beam down over the crowd as she opens with ‘First Time’ from her third album, Home Video. The crowd screams each word of every song with such an urgency that it seems we are all purging something buried deep down. Everyone in the crowd is angry at someone or something.
I hold my best friend as she weeps in my arms during ‘Thumbs’; a track about estranged father figures, it bears a haunting synth and gut-wrenching lyricism which reminds us that genetic connection is all relative. I tell myself that Dacus is speaking directly to me as she finishes the song, the audience echoing her words: “You don’t owe him shit.”
Dacus sings of heartbreak, queerness, religion, and relationships in all their different forms. It is hard to not see myself alone in my room just a year prior, blurry eyes and wet cheeks, bursting with anger as ‘Night Shift’ blares out of my laptop. I feel the anger I thought I left behind begin to surface as the crowd anticipates the thrilling guitar solo towards the end of the song.
There is something cleansing about standing with a thousand strangers, sandwiched between two of your closest friends, being held together in a moment by a mutual need to scream or sob. I remind myself constantly throughout the concert that the last time I was in that very place, I was fifteen, closeted, and harbouring a crush for one of my best friends at the time. That person is everywhere I seem to look. I look for her, drowning in the crowd, rows back where she once was three years ago, begging for her reassurance.
There are sweat stains marking my button-up shirt by the time we are all begging for an encore, to which the band obliges. You can tell by the smile on her face that Dacus has missed our city. As she kindly asks the audience to not record the next song, an unreleased one called ‘Bus’ that takes place as a past Lucy brings in the new year. It feels like being let in on a secret by the girl you had admired silently and from afar during school, like you are the only one that matters to her in that moment. Closing the show with the seven-minute ballad ‘Triple Dog Dare’, strumming softly on her electric guitar, Dacus reminds us that “nothing worse can happen now,” before disappearing backstage.
The audience bleeds out of the venue, an iconic Melbourne staple, all dispersing out in different directions. Each of us cut the tie that was made in the few hours we were together, tethered and bound by the music of a former vacation bible camp-goer from a Richmond on the other side of the world, unfamiliar to the one we bypass on our way home.
Article written by Chloe Bloom
Header image courtesy Ebru Yildiz
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