Concert Review: Lucius at The Sinclair in Cambridge, MA
Reviewed by: Dorise Gruber
With blue lights blazing on a slick-suited trio of men, one armed with a partial standing drum kit, one with guitar and pedal board, and one with both, they start with a few echoing minor chords and crisp marching snare before the Lucius ladies traipse onto stage. Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe don identical blonde-banged-bobs, Cleopatra eye makeup, twin plaid schoolgirl rompers, and mirrored dance moves. Not actually related, they look like new-age indie fembots, presuming new-age fembots come equipped with more clothes, more class, more talent, and fewer bionic nipple barrel guns.
Masters of space, soul, pop, and synchronicity, Lucius is entrancing. Their songs involve a fair amount of call and response between the gents and the girls, and the ladies produce an impeccable weave of silver melodic threads that are the quintessence of what vocalists seek in “the blend.” Malleable in their approach, they are able to deftly adjust their tonal quality as is appropriate for various tracks, crooning one moment, straining the next. Playfully manipulating song architecture in lofty, intricate ways, Lucius also has a good understanding of how to build momentum in a song. Starting with simple alternating staccato percussion, they sculpt slowly further with instruments and voice until a song feels so full it’ll make your heart ripple. At the height of it, they’ll suddenly drop instrumentation to home in on a particularly melancholy vocal, and will follow it up by filling the space even bigger than before it cut out. They craft songs that breathe, and the inhale/exhale is intoxicating.
This particular Lucius show, a sold-out night at Cambridge’s Sinclair, was a homecoming of sorts for the band, considering they all met as Berklee students before heading off to NYC. A particularly captivated audience, during the quietest moments there was zero chatter – so quiet, in fact, that during “Go Home,” a song originally on their EP and on their recently released debut full-length album Wildewoman, you could hear a beer can clink to the ground and echo through the venue. I don’t mean that as a metaphor – that actually happened. Lucius was so into the crowd vibe that they opted to ditch their mics for the last two songs and finish their set in the middle of the floor, hauling out guitar, drums, and even bringing out Rocky from opener You Won’t on singing saw. Holly and Jess climbed up on chairs so they’d be easier seen, and the night closed with the whole band encased by a totally rapt community of fans old and new.
This band is exquisite, but even if you hate things that are awesome, perhaps you’ll be convinced when you hear that they’re donating 10% of all proceeds from album/merch sales to Oxfam. Incredible musicians *and* benevolent, a winning combination. My only hope is that Holly and Jess aren’t, in fact, bionic. If they do ever begin to use their fame and beauty for forces of evil instead of good, I may still cling to the belief that ultimately, it was still worth it.
1) Free As A Bird (Beatles cover)
2) Don’t Just Sit There
6) Hey, Doreen
7) Until We Get There
8) How Loud Your Heart Gets
9) Nothing Ordinary
10) Go Home
12) Turn It Around (with You Won’t)
13) Two Of Us On The Run (with Rocky from You Won’t)
14) Goodbye (Paul McCartney cover) (with Rocky from You Won’t)