Lucius Gig, Dublin
60 min • Workman’s Club, Dublin • April 19, 2014
Andrew Darley reviews
At first glance of the Brooklyn-bred quintet, you may think you’re seeing double. The three men of the band arrive on Dublin’s Workman’s Club stage dressed matching striped long-sleeved t-shirts, quickly followed by twin-like lead singers, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, sporting identical bleach blonde bobcuts and ’60s-leaning polo neck dresses. It’s a strong physical statement that instantly draws in the audience’s attention and declares Lucius as a unit.
There’s an additional buzz in the air on the night with the occasion being Record Store Day. Lucius’ beginnings are rooted in 2008 when Jess and Holly met in music school, however the outfit took time to develop their sound and ensure their music was as strong as it could possibly be before putting it out to the world. The night’s set is in support of their embracive debut album, Wildewoman, released last fall. With a stage set-up of two guitars, two keyboards and each member armed with microphones and drums at their disposal, the band make maximum impact out of minimal setup.
The merits of taking their time to develop as band are undeniable. They own the stage with unwavering confidence and identity, armed with solid pop songs and a thirst to connect to the audience. There’s something revitalizing about witnessing a band completely unconcerned with genres or music labeling. Their sole mission is to create great songs in whatever way or shape they see fit. ‘Nothing Ordinary’ rides on a stomping, almost tribal-like rythmn and takes a completely thrilling turn halfway into a grungy powerpop bridge as they sing in synchronicity “You can’t glue it back together”. ‘Go Home’ asserts an understanding of silence and restraint in songwriting. Its sparse, blues-twinged slinkiness bottoms out on the chorus, giving way to the singers charged shouts “I don’t need you anyway, Go home!”. It’s such a simple touch with full-on emotion. Elsewhere, during ‘Genevieve’ the band throb with pure adrenaline, banging their drumkits out with everything they’ve got with airtight precision.
It’s abundantly clear that all members involved are musicians through and through; fascinated by sound and taking care in creating atmosphere onstage and not simply reproducing the record onstage. ‘How Loud Your Heart Gets’ reaches a glorious height and volume, as the title suggests, before the song peters out and Jess and Holly step to the side of the stage. Andrew Burri and Peter Lalish tamper with guitar and reverb to make this unexpected ambient moment as the songs plays out. Another highlight was ‘Until We Get There’; riding on a floaty guitar melody and its lasting soaring chants, it was a moment of pure elation for the band and audience. Their joy and optimism in performing is instantly infectious and I couldn’t help smiling to myself at several points throughout the performance.
To celebrate Record Store Day and show their appreciation of live music, the band moved into the midst of the audience floor for their acoustic encore. It felt somewhat uncanny they took the oppurtunity to do this in Ireland’s capital with its lineage of pub music sessions, where performers are one amongst the crowd. Performing the gorgeous ‘Two Of Us On The Run’ and a cover of Paul McCartney’s ‘Goodbye’, the relationship they made with the audience was an eye-opener to the hot air that exists in the digital age of music; downloads (legal and otherwise), iTunes chart positions, smart viral campaigns and the elitist, sometimes scowling, attitudes of blogs and online forums. There was an authentic and reciprocal bond between the musician and the listener. That’s what music is and should only be about. I left the Workman’s Club that night with that reoccurring smile and the life-affirming spirit of music.