In July I went to see Tegan and Sara at The State Theatre in Portland. Did they put on a good show? Yes, they did, but that’s not what I remember most about that night.
What I remember most is the band that opened the show. They were so good I’ve coined a phrase. More on that in a moment.
The band is called Lucius, and it is on fire. Lucius’ new CD is called “Wildewoman, and I’m obsessed with it – and the band. It has a guaranteed spot on my short list of favorite albums of the year.
Toward the end of their set at the State they mentioned that they’d be coming back to Portland on Dec. 4. I marched out to the lobby and fan-girled for a moment at the merch counter where they were chatting with concert-goers. I looked at the two singers, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, and said in no uncertain terms, “Oh, my God, I love you. I’m from a newspaper here, and I’ll be back in touch.”
Lucius is singers and keys players Wolfe and Laessig, percussionist Dan Molad and guitarists Andrew Burri and Pete Lalish. Wolfe and Laessing met when they were students at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I can’t remember the last time two voices melded so gorgeously and perfectly. When the two of them sing, it’s like a third voice is created. Their sound is influenced by ’60s girl groups for sure, but with modern sensibilities, and on a few songs a little ’80s je-ne-sais-quoi.
So Laessig called me from London the day after a gig there and a half-hour before doing a surprise pop-up performance at a clothing store. I asked her straightaway what her favorite song was, at least at the moment, on “Wildewoman.” She said “Nothing Ordinary,” and she got no argument from me. “Man cannot run this place alone/But when nature intervenes, keep trying,” wail Laessig and Wolfe, both 28, against the steady hail of drums.
The band is named after Wolfe’s late family dog, a trusty English bulldog. The overwhelming positive reaction to “Wildewoman,” their debut full-length album, pleases the heck out of Laessig, who says the band just finished a European run and will be coming home soon, before launching into another long stretch of dates in 2014.
Life on the road, says Laessig, is surprisingly good. “We all get along very well, so so far, so good.”
Laessig grew up listening to an oldies station in Cleveland before eventually caving to what the other kids were into. “At that point I was still listening to the old school stuff, but also bands like Nirvana and some of the grungier music, and a lot of R&B.”
A Lucius live show is something to behold. Laessig and Wolfe wear matching vintage outfits and face each other, both playing keyboards.
I asked Laessig where she goes to when performing. “Assuming there aren’t distractions like sound issues, it’s easy to get lost in it and those are the best shows,” she said.
As for “the Lucius effect,” it happened again the other night when The Box Tiger opened for Metric at The State Theatre.
Speaking of venues, Lucius has exploded so much that the show got moved from Empire to Port City Music Hall. Their next stop could very well be the moon. www.ilovelucius.com/.
Lucius. 8 p.m. Wednesday. Port City Music Hall. 504 Congress St., Portland. $12; 18-plus; www.portcitymusichall.com
GET READY for the best week in radio. Yes ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Markathon 2013 is upon us. For the uninitiated, let me tell you all about it. 94.3 WCYY DJ Mark Curdo goes on the air Monday, and he doesn’t leave until late on Dec. 6. Seriously. He’s on the air the entire time, grabbing tiny pockets of sleep in the wee hours and grabbing the occasional shower from The Bay Club.
Other than that, he’s there and he’s taking requests. I mean seriously taking requests.
During Markathon he’ll play anything (provided it’s profanity free). Over the years I’ve asked/forced Curdo to play Lionel Richie’s “Hello” and Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling,” among other “gems” and he’s done it. Why? Because the entire event is a huge fundraiser for The Center for Grieving Children (cgcmaine.org).
The Center for Grieving Children, based in Portland, serves more than 4,000 grieving children, teens, young adults and families annually through peer support, outreach and education. Offering services for free, for as long as people need them, the center’s mission is to provide loving support that encourages the safe expression of grief and loss and fosters each individual’s resilience and emotional well-being.
Here’s where we come in. They rely on the kindness of us, be it via volunteering or through financial contributions. And here’s where Markathon comes in. Yes, he’ll play ANY song you want. All you have to do is make a contribution to the center. No amount is too small (or too big!). Curdo knows he can count on me for about $50 to $75 each year and for that I get my cheesy songs as well as some terrific local music.
Markathon is in its sixth year and since it started, it has raised $140,000, with $38,000 of that coming in last year alone. It starts at noon on Monday and ends live at Asylum in Portland at 6 p.m. Friday. Hey Curdo, did you ever know that you’re my hero? But far more importantly, you lead the charge in raising funds for such a worthy cause.
Get your requests and your wallet ready people. Mark will be waiting. Call him at 792-WCYY or pledge online at wcyy.com.
Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at: