As Lucius moved into the middle of the sold out Larimer Lounge on Sunday to give an acoustic performance of “Don’t Just Sit There” surrounded by its tightly-packed audience, it was clear why this is a band that appeals to romantics. Like any grand gesture of love, the band relies on its own visual aesthetic and carefully controlled theatrics to build a relationship with listeners. Among the crowd taking cell phone pictures was Denver fan Andrew Coate, who you could call the most Lucius of Lucius fans. He recently proposed to his fiance with a little help from the upcoming Brooklyn indie-pop band. The act’s two frontwomen recorded a personalized video for Coate’s new fiance to help him pop the question.
You can watch the proposal video, which the band shared with its Facebook followers on Valentine’s Day, to get a sense of the sentimental attachment that listeners share with Lucius. And part of the reason for this relationship with listeners is Lucius’ ability to play to its strengths.
Fronted by the matching duo of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, Lucius knows that it reaches fans through powerful vocals and a strong rhythm section wrapped in a stylish package. So Lucius does the smart thing and puts those qualities front and center using Wolfe and Laessig. While the two deliver subtle and emotional vocal performances, they pound out drum beats during instrumental breaks, displaying to even the casual fan what matters in this music.
After building the track from a slow groove, Lucius broke out of its soft, controlled shell during the chorus of “Wildewoman,” the title track from its debut album. Screaming the sing-along “hey”-heavy chorus and lifting the drum sticks over their head with every strike, Wolfe and Laessig showed the band’s depth and malleability. So far the set had started with a crowd-silencing a cappella performance, dipped into a little twang, a little motown and during “Wildewoman” some sing-along indie folk.
While much of Lucius’ material can be taken as any well-constructed pop in the recorded product, this is only half of the experience. Down to its visual aesthetic — Wolfe and Laessig wore what appeared to be matching handmade Etsy-esque shawl/cardigans while fronting the suited male band — and its dynamic and tightly constructed live show, Lucius handles itself with a tight professionalism on stage. Other highlights included a bombastic “Nothing Ordinary” and “Turn it Around.” After running through the material on “Wildewoman,” the band ended the night, lights down and surrounded by adoring fans. And like Coate’s proposal, Lucius’ set was a personal gesture, thoughtfully built and executed with the fans in mind.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.