Watch Lucy Dacus & Tomberlin Cover Sufjan Stevens’ “Casimir Pulaski Day”

The Stereogum staff is in Raleigh this week for Hopscotch Music Festival, and we saw a lot of awesome music Thursday as festivities got underway. First was our own day party, about which we’ll have more to say later today. Then came the night’s big featured showcase with Snail Mail, Kurt Vile, and Sleater-Kinney’s first concert since Janet Weiss left the band; we’ll soon have more on that too. After that, the majority of us stopped off at the Lincoln Theatre to catch the end of a rousing Injury Reserve set before making our way to the Pour House for Lucy Dacus.

I was not prepared for how good Dacus would be. I’ve long admired her records and her work with Boygenius, but for some reason I didn’t expect her live show to hit as hard as it did. Whether rocking out (“Timefighter”!), inspiring a full-room sing-along (“Night Shift”!), or delivering painfully raw solo performances (a set-closing new one about offering to murder a loved one’s deadbeat dad), she continually proved herself to be one of her genre’s greatest working artists. It was the kind of tour de force you hope to encounter at a music festival.

Perhaps the most notable moment came near the end of the set when Dacus welcomed Sarah Beth Tomberlin to the stage. Tomberlin, who we named an Artist To Watch last year, had already stunned many of us earlier at our day show with her trembling, sorrowful balladry. When she appeared onstage with Dacus, they announced they’d thrown together a special performance just an hour beforehand. They then proceeded to cover “Casimir Pulaski Day,” a heartbreaking and hyper-specific highlight from Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois. It was incredibly moving, and I invite you to watch it below via my humble iPhone footage.

Some context from Tomberlin: