It’s rare I get to trot out the phrase “a transcendent experience,” but I’ve seen Lucius live at Memorial Hall in what is ostensibly an acoustic performance, and I’m hard pressed to come up with a phrase more apt that doesn’t stretch into hyperbole.
Pure Bathing Culture opened the show, a duo consisting of one half of the band’s members - vocals and guitar mixed with simple drum sequences and moody synth and layered vocals. Their lyrics were dreamy, there stage presence subdued. The lights felt considerably brighter as they meandered through a set of 7 or 8 quiet dream pop tunes, by design I’m sure, but they moved quickly in and out of a few somber, twinkly numbers and more upbeat 80’s influenced pieces. The lights came up, everything and everyone moved.
Lucius arrived on stage to thunderous applause. The crowd - packed into Memorial Hall, at capacity - ranged from kids very obviously out on a school night to those more in line with the age of my grandparents. Two fans in matching, sparkly silver wigs sat in the balcony - Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe did, as well, recognized them as fans dressed similarly to one of their earlier incarnations. We cheered their rightful appreciation, maybe even their obsession.
This is a group anchored by two women who are in absolute command of their craft. Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig are the undeniable focus of the band, two voices singing in perfect harmony. Intensely cutting, resonant and clear, yet deeply and unapologetically theirs.
Those frontwomen, standing face to face only a microphone between them, sparkled in sequened, frilled red dresses, tight buns in their hair and glitter on their hands. Upon their arrival - standing atop a platform that reminded me, fondly, of indie pop upstarts Tilly & The Wall both in use and in sound - Lucius presented a beautiful, stirring, personal and unique version of neo-Soul, soaked in Americana and Pop.
It can’t be overstated just how incredible the band behind them, often in the shadows, truly is. Providing backing vocals for such dynamic frontwomen, while keeping the tone of each track consistent, dialed in, is no easy feat. Multi-instrumentalists, their work filled out a stage already threatening to collapse under the weight of personality and talent.
The group wended their way through tracks of their own, reworked and reimagined as even more thoughtful renditions of already pensive and soulful, sometimes soul wrenching songs. Mixed in were arrangements from their eponymous LP, Nudes, each eliciting applause and starry eyed adoration. Rightfully so, I feel. Their rendition of “Feels Like a Curse,” although humorously prefaced by an ill-timed fit of giggles, was a highlight of an evening meant to highlight everything Lucius excels at: Soulful, often pristine complementary vocal arrangements buoyed by impeccable instrumentation and a sense of purpose. Tracks like “Right Down the Line,” “Tempest,” “Something About You,” and “Madness,” were memorable, but each moment was meant to be savored and catalogued, filed away to be revisited later.
The Nudes Live tour was interesting, and arresting, way to experience a band like Lucius. It had been 5 years since the last time I’d seen them perform - with Tegan and Sara - which was actually the last time they had come through. Since then, they’d released to full-length albums, including Nudes, toured with the likes of Sara Bareilles and Jack White, and provided backing vocals for Roger Waters, Jeff Tweedy, and more. It struck me upon entering the gorgeously intimate setting of Memorial Hall how diverse the crowd was, and how devout they were. Lucius has struck a chord with a wide and varied cross-section of people. It was lovely, and moving, to see that evolution coalesce into a night like Wednesday night. For me, a casual fan, it was truly beautiful way to experience such a unique group. For those more faithful, singing along, eyes closed and simply… feeling. I can only guess how truly transcendent the evening really was.