Lucius at Ram’s Head Live

Last night I went to see Lucius at Ram’s Head Live. They’ve made some changes there since the last time I was there a few months ago to see Garbage. First of all they put in metal detectors at the entrance. The show last night was far from sold out, so it didn’t take that long to get in but I can see it taking forever if there’s a lot of people. They also took out the square bar that used to have seats around it and now there’s just a bar against the wall with a whole lot more standing room where the old bar used to be.

Speaking of it being a far from sold out show. This is why we can’t have nice things Baltimore. I know there’s issues with clearances from DC and Philly venues, but also what band wants to come to Baltimore and play for a venue that’s not even close to full. Ram’s Head Live can make it a little less obvious by only opening the lower floor and not opening up the upper levels, but still. They obviously know how many of the tickets they’ve sold at a venue and I’m sure take that into account for future tours.

I was surprised about how many older people there were in the audience. I wasn’t expecting it, but I guess in retrospect it makes sense. Lucius especially on their newest album has a very 80s synth pop vibe, which would probably correspond to the preferred musical stylings of people in their 50s. I’m not quite that old yet, but I hung in the back in what I deemed the old people section. It was a standing room only show so you could go wherever you could find space, but there seemed to be a little spot in the back where all the olds were congregating. I just stood there because there was an area that was a few steps taller than the regular floor which gave me a better chance of seeing even if someone tall stood in front of me.

The opening band was the Cactus Blossoms, a pair of brothers who play really old timey country music. On the face of it they seem a very odd match for Lucius. And I suspect anyone who didn’t know who the Cactus Blossoms were before this show were taken aback when they started playing last night. I however have seen both the Cactus Blossoms and Lucius play at the Newport Folk Festival so they totally fit together in my mind.

I’ve seen Lucius in concert a couple of times before. The first time I saw them they were opening for The Head and the Heart. I then saw them at Newport, and even though Lucius themselves weren’t playing Jess and Holly have popped in at Newport since then and sang in sets with other bands for fun. It’s their love of music and collaboration that makes me love them. Based on the show itself and everything I’ve ever said that I love about concerts  you would not think that Lucius would do a whole lot for me live. They pretty much have no stage banter at all, but of course the one thing they said to the audience involved talking about what a magical experience this past year has been getting to play with so many other amazing musicians.

Their shows are really like performance art pieces. Jess and Holly always dress alike as do the three guys. (Although they had a fourth last night. Not sure who he was and everything I can find online still refers to Lucius as a five piece band.) Jess and Holly mostly do everything in tandem and it’s all quite planned which is generally the opposite of what I like in a show. For them it somehow works though. They played a good mix of stuff from their two albums, though I was quite surprised that they never played “Born Again Teen”, which is the single off of their newest album. It takes some guts to not play a song that probably anyone who found you as a band recently is expecting to hear. It didn’t bother me, but I can’t think of any other concert I’ve ever been to where a band didn’t play their newest single.

At one point during the show Jess and Holly went off stage to change their costumes and the guys stayed around to play some instrumental music. When Jess and Holly started singing again they weren’t on stage and I kept looking waiting for them to come in from the wings, but then they popped up from the crowd where they wandered around for the rest of the song. That was fun. They also had some energetic drum banging moments that got the crowd riled and some quieter moments where they sat on the edge of the stage and sang. Their shows may not be my normal cup of tea, but I love their music and enjoy the performance art experience they put on.

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