Lucius is a band that has created a vibrant community of fans in Minnesota. They’ve stopped here more than ten times in the last four years, done a Micro Show for The Current, an in-store session at Electric Fetus, free shows in Rochester, and even came as singers on Roger Waters’ most recent tour.
Fans turn out each time because Lucius’ brand of indie pop goes deeper. They connect with the audience through their lyrics and tender musical moments positioned between high energy percussion and otherworldly musical arrangements.
As an ever-evolving band, Lucius chose to do something different for this tour. Rather than playing the arrangements fans know and love the way they always have, they played a more delicate and stripped down set. The tour is in support of their latest release Nudes, where they reflect that same motif and dive deep into the bones of their beloved songs.
Pure Bathing Culture
Pure Bathing Culture are longtime pals of Lucius. They’ve toured together in the past, and are a great match to open up this tour. The four-piece band is playing as a duo for the first time, which gave their songs a similarly stripped down feel to what was expected from Lucius.
Their music is a lush blend of 80s dream pop and indie. Singer Sarah Versprille’s sunny vibrato was the crown jewel of the focused set. Daniel Hindman played atmospheric guitar alongside Vesprille’s synths and emotive vocals. The set flowed seamlessly.
Songs from their new release, Night Pass, were featured prominently during the set, including “Devotion” and “All Night“. They finished with a beautiful tribute to their late friend Richard Swift with “Ivory Coast”. It was a fitting tribute, and wouldn’t be the last of the evening.
As the stage changed over for Lucius, a sparkly steamer background covered the traditional background curtain. Megal string-like beams soared diagonally from the center to the middle of the stage, and a neon sign lit up, reading “Lucius”. The lights came down, and the band appeared through thick fog and light beams.
The crowd roared as Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe met at the single microphone after entering from either side of the stage. Dressed in matching red fringed cloaks, they began to play one of their showstoppers, “Dusty Trails”. Their vocals were worthy of a standing ovation, and it was only the first song.
Laessig and Wolfe were joined on stage by the other members of the band to create the gorgeous musical arrangements behind them. One surprise addition was a trio of classical musicians from local group Laurels String Quartet. Their presence took the performance beyond expectations for the audience and made it truly special.
A few covers were sprinkled into the set and kept things unpredictable. One standout was a version of The McKinleys 1964 single “Sweet and Tender Romance”. They mentioned to the crowd they had recorded a version with Jeff Tweedy. Hopefully, we get to hear it somewhere down the line.
The set largely consisted of songs from their first two albums. “Tempest”, “Turn It Around”, and “Something About You” are all crowd favorites that were extremely well received in their newer forms. The music was incredibly dynamic and exciting with the addition of strings. Laessig and Wolfe used their distance from the microphone to control soft moments in their vocals.
They are typically very tight and concise on stage, but on this format seems to have opened up the doors for a little bit of whimsical chat. Lucius took the liberty to be silly and enjoy themselves more between songs. The ladies playfully chatted with the crowd about everything from sharing oysters and wine with fans before the show, to making jokes after songs.
After “Go Home” Wolfe quipped, “No! Don’t go home!”
Laessig responded, “That was a good one.”
Wolfe coyly smiled at the audience and said, “Do you get it?!”
The pair parted to the sides of the stage to appreciatively feature the Laurels strings again. They came back together at the microphone to hearty applause. “Madness” was up next. It was haunting and dazzling with the instrumentation allowing the raw vocals to shine through.
During songs, they would reach their glittery palms out towards the audience as they sang and swayed. Their palms and cloaks glistened under the stage lights. The whole presentation was carefully planned, and the payoff was huge.
The evening wouldn’t be complete without another tribute to friend and collaborator Richard Swift. Laessig took a moment to let the crowd know about the foundation in his honor called “Fug Yep“, which supports awareness for those struggling with substance abuse.
Pure Bathing Culture joined them on stage to cover one of his songs, “Most of What I Know”. The rendition was heartbreaking and healing at the same time. It felt very special to see these friends came together to honor their friend through his music.
“To find some base of silence
Far from all their tongues and venom
Everybody wants for me to see
That most of what I know I can’t believe
But your love will keep my heart alive”
The band received a standing ovation after Nudes opener “Woman”, and they graciously left the stage. The cheers and applause didn’t cease. They returned to stage to begin their encore.
A cover of Daniel Johnston’s “True Love Will Find You In The End” flowed effortlessly into “Two of Us On The Run”. They ended by talking about their goals and dreams for the tour: to spread joy and peace to fans through moments from the show. They hoped that it would spread out into the lives of those around us; even strangers. They urged the crowd to tell the people they love “I love you” because it can make things better.
Overall the show was an oasis from a chaotic world that felt like a family gathering between the crowd and the band. It held true emotional moments, shone through music as art, and it solidified their place as one of the best bands in the indie world.
Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty cover)
Something About You
Sweet and Tender Romance (The McKinleys cover)
Feels Like a Curse
Turn It Around
Most of What I Know (Richard Swift cover)
How Loud Your Heart Gets
True Love Will Find You In The End (Daniel Johnston cover)
Two of Us On The Run
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes