Words & Photos: Alex Wood
Lucius built a fan base by making music as unpredictable as their live show, with each song and performance full of surprises. Their show at the Metro was no exception, notably featuring guests Jeff and Spencer Tweedy.
For those unfamiliar, Lucius’s set-up isn’t that of your typical indie band.
Two female singers harmonize constantly on vocals, backed by two guitarists and a drummer, every member sharing percussion duties. The drums are performed standing upright, the lack of bass drums or a bassist forcing the band to rely on heavy floor toms and keyboards to fill in the lower register.
Though this could seem like a gimmick, the band’s truly unique songs work so well in a live setting that any such thought quickly dissipates.
Opener “Genevieve” featured light guitar chords performed on the off-beats, the focus on the singers’ powerful vocals. A percussion breakdown featuring all five members on drums was followed by an explosive electric-guitar jam, an ear-splitting blast of indie-rock that proved just what the band could do.
Loud, thumping percussion continued into “Tempest,” the ever-present harmonies never missing a note.
The band announced that it was a “Wildewoman Wednesday,” where half of merchandise sales go to support a cause. Profits for the night went to Susan Tweedy, wife of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, in support of her participation in the Light The Night Walk for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This was the first hint of Tweedy collaborations to come, as singers Jesse Wolfe and Holly Laessig recently provided vocals for Tweedy’s Sukierae.
“Wildewoman” remained a high point in the set, its Chicago-based lyrics confirming the band’s love of the city, something the singers gushed about throughout the performance.
“Her eyes are light and clear and fearless like Chicago winds in the wintertime,” they sang to huge applause. The climactic sing-along section dropped out to soft a capella, only to return bigger than ever, the crowd yelling the melody back at the band.
“Nothing Ordinary” was a chugging, anxious blues song, its focus on electric guitars making it among the most ordinary of their tracks. “Hey Doreen” contained a danceable, almost disco shuffle, the singers climbing into the crowd by its end.
“The fact that you’re all here is a dream come true,” the singer said after the song.
To end the set in the biggest way possible, Lucius then invited Jeff Tweedy to stage, the audience predictably screaming and cheering as the songwriter walked out, dressed casually and smiling. As he began strumming the opening notes of Wilco’s “Jesus, Etc” the audience fell so silent you could have heard a pin drop. The band remained tentative, offering a soft, percussive backing as the singers harmonized beautifully with Tweedy. Jeff hugged the singers humbly and happily and walked off stage.
“It’s hard to follow that,” the singer joked, “but we might as well bring another Tweedy out.”
Jeff’s son and Tweedy collaborator Spencer walked out to an additional set of drums for set closer “Turn It Around,” Spencer performing on an upright set, standing as Lucius does.
The song sounded huge with the extra percussionist, the opposite of the stripped down “Jesus, Etc,” as though ending the set with a reminder of how hard Lucius actually rocks. Its drumbeat begs for dancing while the catchy vocals beg for a sing-along, the excessive percussion blasting throughout. Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” was interpolated naturally into the song’s ending.
As is tradition for Lucius concerts, the encore was performed acoustic in the center of the audience, only the vocalists using amplification. The gorgeous “Two Of Us On The Run” opened on a soft note before The Kinks’ “Strangers” closed on a familiar, catchy note, a nod to the kind of breezy pop-rock that clearly influenced the band’s writing.
With innovative songwriting, an unlikely combination of performers, covers and guest spots, Lucius continued to prove themselves among the best up-and-coming acts in the scene today, only confirmed by the growing audience’s admiration and enthusiasm. Though the band only has a deluxe edition of their debut full-length in the works, expect big things to come from them in the future.
3. Don’t Just Sit There
5. Nothing Ordinary
6. Go Home
7. Until We Get There
8. How Loud Your Heart Gets
9. Hey, Doreen
11. Jesus, Etc. (with Jeff Tweedy)
12. Turn It Around (with Spencer Tweedy)
13. Two Of Us On The Run (acoustic, in crowd)
14. Strangers (acoustic, in crowd)