Lucius, the brainchild of Berklee School of Music students Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe, will be leaving mammoth music festivals behind for a time to test out their latest album, “Good Grief,” in more intimate venues this summer. The band is bringing its soul-infused pop sound to Upstate Concert Hall on Wednesday.
Lucius is just off a break after a European tour promoting the album, which features songs “My Heart Got Caught on Your Sleeve,” “Gone Insane” and “Born Again Teen.” Some of the tracks feature pounding synth sounds that call to mind St. Vincent’s latest album. Lucius’s last album, “Wildewoman,” had a more pared-down sound, reminiscent of groups like Haim and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
WITH: Margaret Glaspy
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Upstate Concert Hall, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park
HOW MUCH: $10.27, advance; $15 doors
MORE INFO: 371-0012, upstateconcerthall.com
Laessig plays keys and sings, and Wolfe plays synth and sings. The two, who started performing together at Berklee in 2005, often dress identically in matching outfits, makeup and hairstyles.
Lucius has grow into a five-piece band, with a sound that’s undeniably modern yet echoes music from a bygone era. Laessig and Wolfe’s matching orange bobs and heavy cat-eye eyeliner add to the nostalgia evoked by the band’s sound.
Laessig took some time in between tour stops to chat with The Daily Gazette about the band’s upcoming album, working with Shenendehowa’s Color Guard at the request of former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and getting a contact high at one of her first concerts.
Laessig grew up in a musically inclined family in Cleveland, Ohio. Her grandfather was a painter and she described her parents as artistic, though they didn’t make careers out of their art.
“They’re very hardworking Midwestern parents,” she said. “We were always going to museums and shows. They exposed us to a lot of interesting things.” Laessig’s sister works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Laessig first began tinkering with piano at 5. She took lessons briefly, but really started playing after her grandmother died and left her piano to Laessig. “It was there and I just started playing around on it, trying to play the sounds I was hearing on the radio. She learned The Rolling Stone’s “Angie,” Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” and Alicia Key’s “Fallin” All by Ear. “I was obsessed with the Labyrinth, so I learned all the songs on the Labyrinth soundtrack, too,” she added.
She realized her love of singing in junior high. “I really wanted to write my own music but I didn’t know how,” she said. “I knew how to write short stories and poems. I loved to do that. I knew how to sing and play piano. I just wanted to put those things together somehow.”
Laessig and Wolfe started their partnership as a cover project after meeting through mutual friends, but almost immediately started making their own music.
The two met drummer Dan Molad and guitarist Pete Lalish in New York City; they’ve been in the band about four years.
Color guard music
Along with performing on what has become many new musicians’ rite of passage, NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, the band collaborated with Shenendehowa’s Color Guard last year after receiving a personal request from David Byrne. Byrne is enamored with color guard — an “underappreciated folk art,” he told The New York Times.
He picked several musicians, including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado and the Beastie Boys, to create music for several high school color guards before a major competition.
Laessig said she still has the T-shirt the Shenendehowa team made for her.
She saw her first concert — Billy Idol — at 13, and her second — Parliament Funkadelic — a few weeks later.
Besides being impressed by the music, dancing and costumes, Laessig noticed a strange smell filling the venue.
“I probably had a contact high,” she laughed.
Reach Gazette reporter Cady Kuzmich at 269-7239 or email@example.com.