Lucius Ladies

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I went to see You Won’t at The Independent on Friday, and I left a devoted fan of Lucius. If I’m honest, I was so excited to see You Won’t that I didn’t bother to research the headliner. Boy, was that a mistake. Jess Wolfe and Holly Leassig, the ladies of Lucius, are perfectly paired both visually and vocally. Playing up a sisterly vibe, the two came onstage with matching hair, makeup and costumes–all of which were working on every level. So well, in fact, that the fellas of You Won’t opened their set wearing farcical wigs in imitation of their perfect blonde bobs.

Wolfe and Leassig both graduated from the Berklee School of Music, a pedigree that can be heard in the intelligent way they merge an irresistable 1960s doo wop sound with layered western strength and folk friendliness, all wrapped up in a Heart (as in 1980s girl wonder band Heart) bow. Combined with Danny Molad, Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri, Lucius delivered a performance by which the litany of shows left to be seen this year will measured. At one point, the audience–which had been incredibly respectful for the entirety of the show–lost its mind, and collectively gave the loudest and longest applause I’ve ever heard at The Independent. As a nod to this show of respect, the ladies snuck into the center of the crowd and performed a graceful rendition of “Two of Us On the Run,” a fitting end to a lovely night.

After quickly congratulating Josh Arnoudse of You Won’t on a great show, I walked away from the venue in search of an Acme burger with a You Won’t t-shirt shoved into my coat pocket and a copy of Wildewoman on vinyl snugged protectively under my arm. Divisadero Street was wet with rain, and pockets of the bar-bedraggled clogged the sidewalk.  As I waited to cross the street, I smirked a little in acknowledgment of this rare and beautiful night–the kind of night that started with no expectations and then blew my mind. Thank you, Lucius and You Won’t, for an unforgettable experience filled with wind chimes and harmonies. Travel safe and stay golden, Pony Boy(s).

An Optimist, A Pessimist: You Won’t in San Francisco

 

Playing The Independent this Friday is a two-person outfit called You Won’t that you will like, I promise. Well…as long as you’re into the earnest indie vibe. Hailing from Boston, this combination of bffs Josh Arnoudse on guitar/vocals and Raky Sastri on percussion produces infections acoustic folk rock that instantly caught my attention.

 

Skeptic Goodbye, the duo’s 2012 debut released by Old Flame Records, could not be better titled. Every time I push play on this album I’m transported to another place, a better place–one floating on a nostalgic accordion ebb and flow. I find it impossible not to bounce about in my chair as associative images rattle about my personal unconscious–lakeside tire swings, battered back-of-the-bar pianos, and Edison lights crisscrossed along the horizon of a winter-crisp city street. Each song seamlessly transitions into the next without losing its own unique character. Skeptic Goodbye opens with “Three Car Garage,” a precocious track that immediately catches the listener’s attention. In songs like “Old Idea,” the tempo is perfectly paired with the lyrical mood while the eclectic harmonium prevents a simple song from being simplistic. In fact, these fellas consistently call upon a creative assortment of  instruments like the melodica, the saw, and even wind chimes throughout the album. Finally, they cap the effort off with the satisfying song “Realize”, a contemplative piece filled with reverence and wonder.

 

Perhaps what I like most about the music of You Won’t is how it lends itself to relational memory, how something created by another can so easily feel like my own–so easily be the personal soundtrack that was seemingly always present yet fresh enough to incite a creative rush. In this sense, Skeptic Goodbye is both a blanket and a bombshell banishing boredom (often the root of skepticism) in a comforting cocoon. These kids have fun, they’re funny, and if we follow their lead they may just make optimists of us all.

Word on the street is that their shows have converted skeptics like NPR’s Bob Boilen, so I’m giddy with excitement to experience the album live. Hopefully you are too, and I’ll see y’all on Divisadero this weekend!