Watch Big Thief Play Their Great Unreleased Song “Vampire Empire” On Colbert
If you go see Big Thief live these days, you’re going to hear some new songs. On Sunday night, when the band played in Charlottesville, Adrienne Lenker told the crowd that Big Thief have a policy of performing whatever new songs they’ve written on tour, and given how quickly this band works, that means they’re probably going to hit you with something amazing. At that Sunday-night show, Big Thief debuted a sort of pop-country love song that just killed me. I feel like it needs to be a single as soon as possible, and there aren’t even any videos of that one online. There are, however, videos of “Vampire Empire,” another great new song that’s been part of Big Thief’s live set for a few months now. Last night, they played that one on Colbert.
Right now, there is no studio version of “Vampire Empire,” but the song is already fully realized, and it already kicks ass. Big Thief are already one of the great televised live bands around; they’ve got a rare ability to generate actual live-show electricity in the confines of a late-night studio. Playing Colbert last night, all five musicians were fully locked-in and intense. (I forget the name of the fifth guy, but he’s been touring with the band lately, alternating between flute and fiddle for part of the show.)
“Vampire Empire” is a ragged, surging love song with some huge harmonies and a great sense of slow-build catharsis. Buck Meek gets in a triumphantly messy guitar solo, and Adrienne Lenker lets loose with a great ragged scream at the climax. It’s a great performance of a great song. Watch it below.
Big Thief’s 2022 double album Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You is out now on 4AD, and it’s only a year old, so Big Thief would be well within their rights to keep promoting it on TV, but it’s cool that they did something else instead. Hi to Adrienne Lenker’s meemaw.