Thursday, September 17, 2015
The Music Hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
I never miss an opening act. Some of my favorite musicians today were people I was lucky enough to catch open for someone else—Glen Hansard for Damien Rice, Brandi Carlile for Ray LaMontagne, Gregory Alan Isakov for Brandi Carlile, and the list goes on and on. I got to Boston embarrassingly early to catch Milo Greene at Brighton Music Hall (who I’d seen open for The Civil Wars—sigh) in October of 2012 and Brooklyn’s Lucius was a phenomenal, totally take-you-by-surprise opening act. I was hooked. Jess and Holly’s harmonies are show stopping and their songs catchy. I bought their EP and listened to it hundreds of times.
I caught Lucius again in December of 2013 at Port City Music Hall in Portland. I will never forget that show, because I rushed to the show a little late after the best first date ever. Nearly two years later, and my sweetie and I got to see our first Lucius show together. He had a huge smile on his face all night. They are so impressive. Lucius was decidedly the sweetheart group of last summer’s Newport Folk Festival, sitting in with lots of groups (including my beloved The Lone Bellow) and even getting to sing with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd.
Our friend Marian is a Lucius super fan, and she emailed the gang to remind us that tickets were going on sale to see Lucius at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Ten of us snagged seats in the first few rows and got there early to catch Pavo Pavo, the eccentric opening act. I honestly don’t know how to describe that experience. I’m just glad I had friends there to witness it with me because it was a bit of a spectacle. The lead singer wore a black onesie jumpsuit complete with stirrup pants and a mock turtleneck. If they are trying to distract from their music (which I genuinely can’t recall at this point), with their look, then they’re succeeding brilliantly. I feel like I was the worst audience member ever for the opening because we were all texting (subtlely, and with our screens fully dimmed, mind you) our disbelief and discussed going out on Halloween dressed as Pavo Pavo in matching black mock turtleneck onesies. I laughed to tears at one point when the absurdity overwhelmed me. And even though they were absolutely not for me, I am so glad I got to see them that once.
Lucius took the stage and was flawless. Their percussive, harmonic, powerful sound impresses and left us breathless. There wasn’t a stray voice in the crowd all night. We were spellbound. Guitarist Peter Lalish is from New Hampshire, and got a hometown welcome from the crowd. I was happy to hear “Don’t Just Sit There” and “Go Home”—both from their four song 2013 EP and their full length album, 2014’s Wildewoman. “How Loud Your Heart Gets” is another stand out. They tried out a handful of new songs on us, too, and I am pumped for their next release. They are so insanely good.
I was sad, and I’ll admit, a bit grumpy, when people stood up to dance and were welcomed to the front of the stage to dance. A mass of eager dancers blocked our second row view of the show for the rest of the night and it was frustrating. I was bummed, especially for Marian, who’d been on the ball and bought a front row ticket just to have her view blocked by other fans.
After they wrapped their set, I excused myself to the back of the room so I could actually see them, and caught one of my favorites, “Two of Us on the Run,” from there. The quintet unplugged for their encore and stepped in front of the stage curtain to play around one microphone. It was beautiful. I feel like the days of getting to see Lucius in intimate venues is dwindling as their popularity grows, so I’m grateful for even an obstructed second row view of this phenomenally talented powerhouse group.