Concert Review: Lucius @ Lincoln Theatre (3/23/18)

Lucius 3
Lucius (Photo from FB @ilovelucius)

From an on stage marriage proposal to incredible harmonies, Lucius gave the sold out Lincoln Theatre crowd a night we won’t forget.

As Ethan Gruska finished his affecting opening set, he remarked that Lucius ‘is one of the best live bands out there.’ We were about to find out just how right he was.

Lucius is a four-piece band from Brooklyn, New York, with Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig on vocals (oh the harmonies they evoked together!), Dan Molad on drums and Peter Lalish on guitar.

Jess and Holly entered the stage to considerable applause and took up positions facing each other at a single microphone stand, Holly on the left, Jess on the right. Dan and Peter were in the back, each flanking one side of the stage. A stylized ‘Lucius’ logo in changing neon lights hovered above, giving one the impression of an angelic halo radiating down from the heavens. Jess and Holly wore matching green robes (bathrobes?) with flower prints and straight, blonde hair. As is their custom in recent years, they were twins in appearance, and in spirit.

I set this image in your mind*, more because it remained unchanged throughout the evening as they sang brilliantly over 17 songs. Sure the lights dimmed or brightened or altered the mood with color, but this indelible scene could have been rightly immortalized as a DC mural.

Lucius started with “Go Home” before moving into six consecutive songs plucked directly from their latest album. With “Tempest” the audience was already transfixed by the dual harmonies of Jess and Holly, and possibly had the first inkling that this was more than a mere concert, but rather an unequaled and sublime musical experience. Then they played Jerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line”, and as the brightest lights shined, we had no doubt, Lucius, it was them right down the line. Sorry, yeah this is my way of telling you, their cover was so good.

After two studio albums over 13 years, Lucius released a collection of songs called NUDES in March. Each song was chosen to showcase their ‘soulful, powerful voices and gorgeous harmonies’, and includes new and old songs and covers. They played seven songs from NUDES. They also enjoyed performing covers, from The McKinleys’ “Sweet and Tender Romance” (Jeff Tweedy introduced them to their music) to “Strangers” by The Kinks to “True Love Will Find You in The End” by Daniel Johnston to the final song in the encore, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” by Ilene Woods.

Many of their own songs included revival-style hand-clapping (they like clapping!), possibly to stir the audience members from their induced musical reveries.

The highlight of the many highlights for me, was the old one-two of the emotional songs “Feels Like a Curse” and “Until We Get There” midway through the show. The juxtaposition of Jess and Holly singing together center stage did indeed bring out the desired ‘gorgeous harmonies’ with deeply resonating melodies. Both songs were fantastic, and from the audience nary a pin drop was heard.

A little later they pretended to hold a surprise raffle based on seat number, and since Lincoln Theatre is first-come, first-seated, the place erupted with activity as everyone tried to determine their golden seat number. But it was all for naught in the end, as it was a pre-designed charade to get a lesbian couple on stage, where one of the women exclaimed her love for the other and got down on her knee to propose.

During the encore, Jess and Holly each gave an impassioned thank you for the fan support over the years, highlighting the first time they came to DC only 50 people showed up. Someone yelled, ‘Stay forever!’ but Jess demurred, ‘That would be a lot of singing!’

I’m rambling a bit here, but let me bring it back to the point. Lucius’ concert is already on my ‘best of’ list for 2018, and I can’t imagine I’ll witness enough shows in the next nine months to displace it.

Take a moment to acquire a copy of NUDES and enjoy. You deserve good things.

Setlist
Go Home
Tempest
Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty cover)
Something About You
Neighbors
Feels Like A Curse
Until We Get There
Sweet and Tender Romance (The McKinleys cover)
Turn It Around
Madness
True Love Will Find You in The End (Daniel Johnston cover)
Two of Us on the Run
How Loud Your Heart Gets
Woman

Encore
Dusty Trails (with Ethan Gruska)
Strangers (The Kinks cover)
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes (Ilene Woods cover)

* You can also watch the video below…

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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