There was a lot going on in the Twin Cities Saturday night. At First Avenue there was TOMERLIN in the Entry, Shellack in the Mainroom. The Fine Line hosted Sunflower Bean and Amy Grant was at the State Theatre. Art A Whirle was in full swing, with tons of the area’s best bands playing several different venues. Then you had The Sugar Hill Gang at the 331 Club.
But if you really wanted to get your dance on, the hottest ticket Saturday night was Lucius at the Place Theatre. The self described “pure pop” duo of singer songwriters Holly Laessig and Jess Wolf brought a spectacular show to the packed venue. They are on the road supporting their third record Second Nature, out front and amazing after spending some time supporting the likes of Roger Waters and providing vocals to The War On Drugs, The Black Pumas and The Killers. Second Nature is produced by Brandi Carlile, and while there are a few Americanaish tunes on the album, the real bangers s are the upbeat danceable songs that turned the Palace into Studio 54 for a while on Saturday night.
First up was Celisse. While you may not have heard her name, chances are you have heard her music. Her resume is more inclusive than a Coexist bumpersticker. Mariah Carey, Gram Nash, Melissa Ethridge and Trey Anatasasio are just a few of the people she has collaborated with. She even played guitar for Lizzo when she appeared on Saturday Night Live. And she just shredded Saturday night. Sultry, bluesy and sassy, Celisse just commanded the stage with her voice and guitar. Highlight of the set was a smoldering cover of Bill Withers “Use Me”
The dark stage was backlit with a huge spiral tunnel pattern when Lucius sauntered onto the stage and broke into the title track off of their latest release “Second Nature”. Bouncy and upbeat. The ladies brought the heat on the next tune “Next To Normal”. Donning keytars, the duo belted out the the chorus in perfect harmony as a smoldering bass riff brought the stank that made the band groove on all cylinders. Slowing it down for a minute, they each took positions opposite each other on a 2 sided keyboard and brought the harmonies into the stratosphere with “Calling Out Your Name”.
The lights went down between songs, creating a dramatic effect. They broke out and “oldie” next with “Tempest”. The influence of Brandi Carlile could be heard in the live version of “Promises” performed Saturday night. When you think that the harmonies cannot get any more transcendent, its next level perfection, two become one. The Nashville influence continued with “The Man I’ll Never Find” and “Lesson in Leavin”. While “Heartbursts” was super funky, the highlight of the 2 hour show was the set ender “Supernatural Girl”. It just all came perfectly together at that point, the harmonies, the music, everything just peaked at the exact right time. They brought out The Cactus Blossoms for their encore, then closed the evening with a Donna Summers cover of “I Feel Love”
Lucius ended the evening just like they started the night, with a giant dance party at the Place Theatre Saturday night.