It was a dark and stormy night. At a Bay Area venue, thousands of brightly colored hair adults descended in the night lighting the way with their dollar store glow sticks. This was not that place. Outside The Independent, rain did nothing to make the mood soggy. Instead, people were willfully lining up along Divisadero Street eagerly waiting to enter the sold out show.
Upon my arrival, the opening band, You Won’t, were already a few songs into their surprisingly delightful set. I have a bad habit of missing most openers (distractions, public transit and multiple outfit changes playing major contributing factors). This was one of those times I was very pleased to find that my effort at arriving mostly on-time was rewarded with a band that didn’t only sound great, but were funny and entertaining to watch. The duo was front man Josh Arnoudse and drummer Raky Sastri. Although self-proclaiming themselves as “Mass-holes,” Josh and Raky were both charming the crowd over with their respective parts, Josh with his strong, gruffy vocals reminiscent of 50’s Duwop and Raky with his masterful playing of the singing saw. You Won’t certainly did provide an excellent start to a blustery evening.
The evening for me was an education on Lucius and it started with the most appropriate introduction. The backdrop of the stage was a black and white yin and yang of two female faces facing each other. This is the template created by Holly Laessig and Jesse Wolfe, not two but one as the opening song “Strangers” states. Theirs are two voices that meld into one soaring harmonious sound backed by drums, guitar, and percussion.
The set started with Holly and Jesse singing standing opposite each other on stage walking closer to the center until they were both standing face to face, yin to the other’s yang. Sporting an identical mod look of straight across bangs, thick black eyeliner, and coral outfits, they took their respective spots on stage and went into “Tempest,” the fifth song off of their debut album, Wildewoman. At once, the venue was filled with a quirky pop sound fitting of their French new-wave look, rich with harmonies and dance-inducing percussions. Our songstresses swayed back and forth as if miming each other, even using similar hand motions and gestures. At this point I began understanding why the crowd had been waiting with eager anticipation. It is clear that this band is not simply individual components, but one well-oiled and attractive harmony making machine. Bandmates, Dan Molad, Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri all certainly carried their own weight intensifying the sound with their in-unison backing vocals and on-point beats, not to mention style points for also looking just as dapper as the ladies.
The crowd really began to get into the show as soon as “Don’t Just Sit There” started which induced almost everyone standing in front of the stage to sing back the lyrics “did you find love/have you found love/did you find love again.” But it was “How Loud Your Heart Gets” that really demonstrated how well the elements that Lucius brought worked. The synchronicity of Jesse and Holly’s voices against the thunderous percussions were confirmations of what crowd had been expecting. The response throughout the show was so overwhelming that Jesse remarked on how San Francisco completely trumped the previous nights shows in San Diego and Los Angeles. Flattery aside, it was clear this audience was feeling the connection to these two remarkable ladies. Guitarist Dan Molad, wanting to capitalize on the love, very politely laid across tender hands to surf the crowd.
When they left the stage, it didn’t take more than a few moments to realize that the show was about to take on another level of awesome as a stagehand grabbed a single mic from the stage and maneuvered it through the crowd to the center of the room. Lucius was furthering the connection to their audience by treating them to an acoustic performance of “Two Of Us On The Run” and a Beatles cover (brownie points to whomever can identify which one) dead center in the room.
Needless to say, the experience left me waiting in line at the merch table after the show. I was slightly disappointed to see “Genevieve,” one of the set songs I liked the most not included in the album. But my disappointment went away as soon as I realized the record was pressed on white vinyl. With both style and substance, Lucius told the crowd what they wanted to know, we did find love.
- Strangers (The Kinks Cover)
- Don’t Just Sit There
- Nothing Ordinary
- Until We Get There
- How Loud Your Heart Gets
- Hey, Doreen
- Go Home
- Turn It Around
- Two Of Us On The Run
- (Name That Beatles Cover!)