Lucius at Cedar Cultural Center, 2/20/14
Photo by Mark N. Kartarik
With You Won't
February 20, 2014
Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis
While Thursday night might have been nothing short of harrowing outside, inside the cavernous Cedar Cultural Center, Brooklyn-bred Lucius tried to melt just about everything within earshot with a lushly-arranged, fairly tale-like batch of songs that seemed borne from the heart of David Byrne and the brain of Andy Warhol.
The band began with a fantastic new song, of which the title was never deduced. Singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig had dressed identically with what appeared to be matching blond wigs as well. They were ably backed by guitarists Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri and drummer Dan Moland, also dressed alike. "Tempest" from last year's Wildewoman, showcased Wolfe and Laessig's phenomenal harmonies, as well as the rest of the band's formidable prowess.
The folk-dusted "Don't Just Sit There" came next and with that there was no question that Lucius had the crowd in the palm of its hand. The proof was easy enough to point out: there was hardly a person either looking at or holding a phone in the air, everyone stood transfixed on the Cedar's stage -- what exactly might come next?
Photos by Mark N. Kartarik
The title track, with its almost country bent gave way to the post-punky "Nothing Ordinary, " and while it was one of the night's highlights it also served as the key to unlocking the band. They're impossible to pigeonhole, the songs sounded like a great many influences and different bands but, really, all they sound like is themselves.
Instead of jostling for space in an already crowded room, Lucius seems to have succeeded in building a room that's just for them. They attacked like a pack of velociraptors, conning you into watching one thing, while the rest of the band is slowly sneaking up on you in the periphery to knock you senseless. It's a neat trick and never got old over the course of the night, during which it happened no less than five times.
"Until We Get There" got the crowd swaying in unison, while "How Loud Your Heart Gets" ratcheted the energy level up once again, underscoring the bands ability to throw everything at the wall and amazingly have it all stick. There were passages in "How Loud" that sounded like heavy metal that quietly extinguished into folk-rockish territory. It wasn't the only time the band magically transitioned as such on Thursday, it was certainly the most compelling example.
Photos by Mark N. Kartarik
"Turn It Around" began the night's sendoff, with openers You Won't joining them onstage -- complete with blonde wigs to match Laessig and Wolfe's. Lucius's latest single, "Go Home," was a fine example of why people started to and should continue to pay attention to what they're offering. They ended with the ambling "Genevieve" and that would have been enough; should have been enough, even. But Lucius wasn't through with the crowd just yet.
Armed only with a microphone and a drum, Wolfe and Moland hopped onto the middle of the floor in the capacity Cedar and as the crowd gathered around them, they offered up an encore that people will be discussing for days. They slowly, quietly launched into a cover of the Beatles' "Goodbye" that they made all their own, the crowd singing along the entire time, almost everyone with a phone in their hands, filming or taking photos for the duration.
Photos by Mark N. Kartarik
Lucius had already won the crowd's adoration, but they succeeded, on a night like Thursday, to thaw everyone in attendance from the inside out. As they packed up, Wolfe mentioned her happiness in having a new family here in Minneapolis and we were more than happy to welcome her and the rest of the band back as soon as possible.
Critic's Bias: Lucius is not a band that would usually be in my wheelhouse, but they are one of my favorites of late, which is as good an illustration as any of the power this band wields at the moment.
The Crowd: The usual mix of people from many different socio-economic backgrounds that is usually present at a Cedar show. I saw at least five people old enough to be grandparents and a several kids, as well.
Overheard in the Crowd: My Gimme Noise editor arguing with, and ultimately trying to shoo away, a man who ostensibly wanted to debate socialism vs. capitalism. Really, he seemed to want an audience while he debated with himself. I and two other people with us were also dragged into the fray. It was unpleasant and occurred just before Lucius started, but any lingering bad feelings were quickly put aside after the band got going.
Notebook Dump: These songs fading away rather than burning out at the end seem to be the first legitimate argument against that Neil Young lyric from "Hey Hey My My."
Don't Just Sit There
Until We Get There
How Loud Your Heart Gets
Turn It Around
Encore: Goodbye (Beatles cover)
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