A de’Lucius’ show

Lucius and You Won't bring rousing performances to the Southern

It’s not often a show’s opener reaches the hype of its leading act. And yet, as the floor of The Southern filled last Tuesday night in anticipation of Lucius, a five-piece group known for its soft melodies, it was opening act You Won’t that really set the show’s tone.

You Won’t, a Boston-based alternative folk duo, features lead singer Josh Arnoudse, whose nasal tones hearken back to Bob Dylan’s sound and a knack for strongly rhythmic guitar. More impressive, though, is Arnoudse’s stage partner, Raky (pronounced Rocky) Sastri, whose multi-instrumental talent proved truly stunning. Playing up to three instruments at a time, Sastri managed to cohesively and confidently navigate the drums, a harmonica, a ukulele and even an old-fashioned saw, which he ran a bow across like a cello. Unsurprisingly, the audience was hooked.

After such a mind-blowing opener, I felt it inevitable Lucius would be subpar by comparison. I mean, come on — he played a saw. Like a musical instrument.

Incredibly, I was proved wrong. Lucius brought such a unique mixture of styles and sounds into the hot, sweaty room that the audience was soon moved into the sort of passionate frenzy only live music can produce.

Lucius’ vocals are provided by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the group’s only female members. Both seem mystic creatures onstage, with enticing, siren-like harmonies and incredible tonal purity. One played the sugary-sweet, innocent persona, while the other brought a hot, soulful sultriness, enhancing their intensity on stage. Wolfe and Laessig’s strong female roles helped legitimize the group, shaping a dynamic similar to that of rock group Paramore, led by frontwoman Hayley Williams.

Still, the band’s instrumentalists were by no means overshadowed. Andrew Burri, Peter Lalish and Dan Molad brought an island-like rhythm to the sound with a metallic, ringing lead guitar, consistent use of a woodblock and broad bass and drum rhythms. The snare drum, at times an overrated instrument, was used with expert subtlety, contributing to the greater sound rather than standing out too much on its own.

Even the progression of the group’s setlist was thoughtfully considered. The night began with a few edgy, poppy numbers, which increased in old-time rock-and-roll flair as the night continued. With growing fervor, the group played an apparent crowd favorite, “Nothing Ordinary,” near the show’s end, only to end the main stage performance with a somewhat slower, feel-good song.

Just when I thought crowd enthusiasm surely peaked, all five members of the group waded into the audience’s very heart to end their show with a short acoustic set. Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and two sets of drum sticks applied to the floor and microphone stand, Lucius serenaded the audience with the melodic “Two of Us On the Run” and a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Goodbye.”

Such a conclusion felt special — both attentive and personal. For this and more, it is unlikely Lucius’ fanbase will forget the show, masterful from start to finish, any time soon.

Published January 29, 2014 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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