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Lucy Dacus, Mal Blum, and Addy at Johny Brenda's

By: Jordyn Lyric

Lucy Dacus played the upstairs venue at Philadelphia’s one-of-a-kind Johnny Brenda’s on New Year's Eve to deliver all the feelings. The show brought her three-night residency to a close, a sold-out and tightly packed end to the year and to her trio of performances.

The show kicked off with a dreamy set by Richmond, VA locals Addy, a pop band with a nostalgic image and a sound to match. Their music is sweet and heartfelt, like a handmade valentine, and their performance brings the emotional and contemplative to the stage. They’re sure to win hearts-- the crowd swayed along with them until they brought it to a close.

Mal Blum, an artist who hails from NYC, brought a vibrant, DIY-reminiscent sound. Backed by a full band, the live performance was a departure from Blum’s solo work. Blum and their band created an upbeat space for dancing and singing and shouting. Both their sweet softer works and their dynamic full-band releases find Blum and their guitar musing about life’s great joys and sorrows, optimistically of course, in a way that reminisces upon the stylings of the great Kimya Dawson (you know her from Juno). Blum’s song “Fine” made its rounds as a popular audio track on TikTok; it’s a kindhearted and honest track that many have set their video clips to.

After Dacus took the stage, she gave a sweet and simple hello and thank you. She brings her whole self to her performance, through and between each song, and it’s always her genuine attiude and her talent combined that bring tears to the eyes. That’s right, I admit to crying to her records sometimes. Who hasn’t? Covers and originals alike (she’s signed to Matador records), Dacus puts her whole heart and persona into every release.

The venue was a perfect choice, albeit tightly packed-- she certainly could have filled a larger room, but as the nature of her music is intimate, the nature of her performance-matched, and the smaller space led only to a stronger connection between Dacus and the crowd. The tiny cherubic statues in the corners and the high ceilings, with their billowing curtains, created a theatrical environment where the performance could speak for itself.

The indie singer-songwriter also from Richmond has a beautiful voice and a truly heart-wrenching style. They combine in an emotional performance that lacks nothing but pretentiousness-- she is no fuss, all feeling. Her releases are a one-of-a-kind exploration of what it’s like to move through the world with lots of feelings, something that relates across a listenership.

The crowd adores her, gazing down from balconies or standing shoulder to shoulder, packed to the doors, to get a glimpse of her fun yet fully moving performance. It was a pleasure to watch her play-- she is one of the great talents of this generation, and continues to make gorgeous, haunting works and perform them in a graceful, honest, heartfelt way. Dacus is a treasure in the industry today, and I look forward to seeing what the new year will bring her.


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