The second installment in the Sun Valley Center for the Arts’ 2019 summer concert series looms just on the horizon. Next Wednesday, July 24, will see Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats take to the stage at River Run Lodge with “very special guest” Lucius.
Though one can hardly argue with the first two words of The Center’s billing of the Los Angeles four-piece indie pop group, the word “guest” does not quite do justice to the force and momentum of this meteorically rising band.
Lucius consists of dual lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, drummer and producer Dan Molad and lead guitarist Peter Lalish.
Wolfe and Laessig double up vocals on just about every track, their voices achieving a twinning effect mimicked by the typically identical outfits they don for concerts.
Sometimes singing in harmony, sometimes in tonal unison, Wolfe and Laessig’s approach transcends gimmicking to produce a unique live experience.
As Laessig related it, when she and Wolfe first started playing together, they were both attracted to the double tracking technique that characterized many 1960s rock and girl group recordings.
The technique, pioneered by sound engineers at Abbey Road Studios recording The Beatles, uses variable speed tape recorders to create multiples of one strain, so that one singer with one voice could achieve a choir effect.
“The problem with that,” Laessig explained, “is that you get used to hearing a song a certain way on a record, but singers can’t recreate that effect in concert. We thought it’d be really cool to record a double track voice, but one that we could do live as well.”
Wolfe and Laessig’s duologue—coupled with their emotionally resonant lyrics and catchy melodies—has garnered them widespread acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine, NPR, The Village Voice and The New York Times, to name a few.
Perhaps most telling, however, is their popularity among others in the industry. In many ways, they are each a musician’s musician.
Lucius has recorded with an eclectic array of artists, including Jackson Browne (for whom they opened several shows in June), Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters (who appeared on their 2018 album), Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, John Legend, Tegan and Sara, Andrew Bird, The Head and the Heart, John Prine, Sheryl Crow, Chadwick Stokes, Ingrid Michaelson and, of course, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
“The good part of touring is that you make friends wherever you go,” Laessig said. “Festivals end up like mini family reunions. Of course, touring can be hard sometimes.”
Lucius have a song called “Dusty Trails,” which touches upon the difficulties of constant traveling in a manner evocative of “Turn the Page” and “Moonlight Mile.”
“But,” Laessig continued, “travelling the world and sharing our art is the dream, and we’re really living it now.”
As the song goes, “Dusty trails can lead you to a golden road,” and the yellow bricks Lucius have trod have led them to global venues and collaborations with highly influential artists.
“It’s been a very fruitful moment in time,” Wolfe said. “We’re working on a new record. It’s taking a while, because we want to do it right, but we’re really enjoying being creative again after being inspired by working with so many great people.”
Next week’s concert will mark Lucius’ Sun Valley debut and an early installment in their summer tour with Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats.
“We’re really excited about it,” Laessig said. “We’ve never been [to Sun Valley]. We have played and sung with Nathaniel Rateliff a couple of times and we appeared on his last record. We’ve got a good buddy system and we’re excited to be on the road with them.”
Whether heavy synthpop, classic rock or the bluesy folk of The Night Sweats, Lucius feel comfortable in all styles and genres, demonstrating musical aplomb in all settings.
Their signature musicality promises to set the stage for a memorable and exciting concert at River Run Lodge. Some tickets for the performance are still available. Visit sunvalleycenter.org, call 208-726-9491 or swing by The Center’s Ketchum headquarters at 191 Fifth St. E. to purchase.
General admission gates open at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, and Lucius will kick off the show at 7 p.m. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and Lucius will be in town for one night only before hitting that long, dusty trail once again.