A sell-out crowd packed Tipitina’s last Wednesday to take in the sounds of Lake Street Dive and Lucius, two bands from the Northeast with strong fan bases here in New Orleans. Each band was given equal stage time, which allowed each to show off its unique take on modern pop, featuring impressive harmonies and strong female lead vocalists. This was the third and final show the two bands have played together, and the camaraderie from only a short time on the road together was apparent in the collaborative, positive spirit of the night.
Lucius took the stage first and proceeded to blow the minds of the crowd with their percussive, guitar-driven pop songs lead by the double-headed harmonizing monster of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laesing. The two lead singers showed their innate ability to weave in and out of each others’ voices and craft beautifully playful harmonies as the three guys behind them played slide guitar, synths and floor toms with precise abandon. The result was catchy and energetic, with the perfect amount of unexpected and bizarre flourishes to keep the listener on his toes.
Last time Lucius was in town, they played an incredible show at Gasa Gasa that won over tons of new fans and ensured a packed house for their return stop here. The show at Tip’s did not disappoint, as the band sounded even more confident than last time, tearing through tracks from their excellent debut album Wildewoman. Lucius effortlessly shifted from inserting a brief tease of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” into their standout track “Turn it Around” to acapella five-part harmonies during the emotionally intense “Go Home.” The band ended the set on the floor surrounded by the crowd for an acoustic finale of “Two of Us on the Run” and The Kinks classic, “Strangers.” The pair of songs, both describing lovers on the run, have become a standard closing for Lucius and prove the group is just as comfortable playing stripped down as it is among chaotic electronics.
Since forming at the New England Conservatory of Music in 2004, Lake Street Dive has been steadily garnering a surrounding buzz with its country-soul take on modern pop. This year has been especially great for the band, with the record Bad Self-Portraits receiving universal acclaim and leading to a string of sold-out shows across the country. The crowd at Tip’s was clearly full of hardcore fans, evinced by a floor packed woth folks mouthing the lyrics to each of Lake Street Dive’s songs. Lead singer Rachael Price has a smoky, sultry voice that recalls some of pop’s best divas while retaining a unique style that’s all her own. The band, which includes an upright bass, drums, guitar and trumpet, effortlessly fed off the Tipitina’s energy and powered through a set that demonstrated a range of sounds and styles.
Pairing bands on a co-headlining tour is always a gamble; the genres should align enough so that fans of each band will enjoy both the music and following of its counterpart. However, you don’t want the pair to sound too similar and lose the crowd’s interest. Thankfully, Lucius and Lake Street Dive are unique enough that the two-hour show never felt redundant, yet every song proved engaging for both sets of fans in the space. Both bands are on tour for the rest of the year, but after the warm welcome they received at Tip’s last week, don’t be surprised if they pop up in NOLA again fairly soon.
If you missed the show, you can catch a sample of each group’s music below:
Lake Street Dive doing a seriously soulful rendition of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”:
Official video for Lucius’ “Go Home:”