Dazzling musical duo Lucius took the stage at Boston’s newest venue, Roadrunner, with a prismatic tour de force performance of their new album Second Nature. Lucius, headed by founders and lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, delivered their trademark tight vocals in a disco-drenched evening of sparkles and dancing queens (yes, they did give out dancing queen sashes to the sparkliest and danciest of the audience).
Calling Lucius’s vocals “tight” is a definitive understatement: Wolfe and Laessig’s decade-plus collaboration boasts a distinctive mirror-image harmony that gives the impression of a supernaturally resonant single vocalist. (Wolfe and Laessig graduated from Boston’s own Berklee together in the class of 2007.) That is to say, their duet-vocals something to behold—especially delivered live with continuous choreography and what must have been like twenty-pound costumes.
Charlie Hickey, with his debut album Nervous at Night to be released May 20, opened the show with a pop ballad, Phoebe-Bridgers-vibe set. A singer-songwriter with pop energy, Hickey’s soft harmonies and young feel was a distinct counterpoint to Lucius’s metallic precision. His lyrics has a soft sentimentality, and not in a bad way, making his eerily precise Ben Gibbard/Death Cab cover late in the set a comfortable guest in good company.
Then Lucius took the stage in a wash of raw pink neon and sequined, feathered jumpsuits, wearing their customary mermaid-long blonde wigs. Absolutely everything on the stage was bedazzled: the risers, the keytars, the piano, the mic stands… And it’s quite a statement to say that didn’t distract from the performance in the slightest.
The duo opened with Second Nature’s first tracks in order: “Second Nature” and “Next to Normal,” two explosive, soaring numbers that instantly enthralled the whole of Roadrunner’s cavernous performance space. There was a total sense of immersion. In an ultra-Stevie Nicks move, Wolfe swayed with a silver-streamered tambourine for “Promises”; audience dancers were summoned to the stage for an ecstatic dance-off during “Dance Around It,” in which the winner was…everybody! Several members of the “Dance Around It” crowd-sourced quarantine music video were in attendance, including local burlesque darling Femme Brulée.
Second Nature is a very short album, with only ten tracks, and every one of them a finely-honed jam. The truncated album necessitated the interweaving of some older material, which isn’t unusual (how do you get away without playing the songs that made your audience fall in love with you in the first place?) but in this case had an interesting edge. The disco-pivot of Second Nature is a distinct swing from Lucius’s past work, which was more vocal-forward, pop-indie, next-to-Americana tunes—at home among the likes of Brandi Carlile and Yola.
However, like Yola, Lucius took a disco-dive during COVID-19, which meant bringing slower-indie catalogue favorites like “Dusty Trails” back to the fore might have felt like something of a departure. But the raw force and talent of Lucius’s collective voice gave a genre-various show the cohesion of sound and spirit that it needed to feel consistent.
A roaring encore (with costume change!) came to a close with a transportive rendition of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” leaving Roadrunner awash in neon brilliance and good vibes.
Lucius’s high-production, high-glitz show felt like it was barely keeping up in splendor to the talent showcased at center stage. (Did I mention how everything was bedazzled?) This is one of the most unique, consistently brilliant, and consistently surprising groups I’ve seen. I have no idea what direction they’ll go next, but I am waiting with baited breath to find out.