Ever since they embarked on their incredible U.F.O.F./Two Hands two-album run last year, Big Thief have been making the promotional rounds, playing on every TV show that’ll have them. Most of the time, when bands do this, it gets boring fast. It does not get boring with Big Thief. The band’s performance of “Not” on Colbert last year, for instance, was one of the best music-on-TV moments in recent memory. Big Thief seem to have the gift of summoning spirits every time they play together, even in the tackiest of contexts. They always do something tingly and incredible. They did it again last night.
Last night, Big Thief were the musical guests on Jimmy Kimmel Live. They played “Shoulders,” the exposed-nerve domestic-violence song that was a live favorite even before they included it on Two Hands last year. The Kimmel stage, so full of neon and product placement, is a strange place for that. It didn’t matter. They crushed it anyway.
Part of the thrill is that it’s cool to see wiry weirdos like Big Thief getting the chance to play repeated TV performances in the first place. But part of it is also that Adrienne Lenker always seems like she’s got hellhounds chasing her, whenever and wherever she sings. When this performance reaches its cathartic ending, she is once scratching at your soul. Watch it happen below.