In The Perks of Being a Wallflower, there is that famous line where Charlie says, “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” That line is as close as words can come to embracing the way I feel when I leave a show that has particularly hit home. As I walked to the Fullerton stop after the sold out Lincoln Hall performance by Lucius, I felt courageous, unstoppable; I could have sworn I was infinite. It is for this reason that I seek out the bands I do, the ones with lyrics that speak to the current condition of this human, the ones who use instrumentation in an intelligent and gripping way. It is for this reason that I boarded a bus and spent six hours coming to Chicago in order to see this band again.
My first experience with Lucius was during Bonnaroo when I was in a very fragile emotional state. I knew a boy I’d been talking to for the better part of a year and a half was also there, and although I was flanked by two of my friends, I was completely alone. You know when you walk through a crowd but you’re too far inside your own head that everyone around you is nothing but a blur of color? That kept happening. I kept seeing this boy’s face everywhere, in people that weren’t remotely him. The only moment of solace I found was during Lucius’ set.
That first time I heard Jess and Holly’s voices coalesce struck me, chipped away at something hard I had placed around my heart. I don’t know exactly which songs they played at Bonnaroo, but I remember they played one that I think now may have been “Go Home” and as they reached the chorus, it began to rain. I remember crying and tilting my face up to the sky, singing the chorus the next time through and feeling like maybe, just maybe, I would survive this dissolution of that relationship.
Fast-forward to Lincoln Hall. I was apprehensive to see this band again because they are tied to an unresolved part of me. Lucius was the first band that helped me feel like I was healing after I got left in the dust. Chicago, although one of my favorite cities, can make me feel anxious because I don’t want to run into that boy again, and it feels like he’s around every corner in any of the cities we have ever shared. That whole idea of invisible strings connecting all of us? That is how I feel still about him. I can feel him sometimes when I am places where only his ghost can remain and it can and usually does knock the wind out of me. So, with hesitance, I went to this show. I knew I had to be there because Lucius, as I have mentioned, is a major source of healing for me. I walked in, met my friend, and found my way as close as I could to the stage.
Maybe it’s something about the air quality, but it seems that every person I’ve met from Vermont is lovely. The Green Mountain State’s own Alpenglow is no exception. The quintet took the stage first, bringing with them a slew of instruments that would make any folk music aficionado drool; guitars of the electric, acoustic, and bass varieties, a banjo, drum set, keys, harmonica, and a violin all perfectly blended to create a succinct orchestration that cushioned the vulnerable tenors of Graeme Daubert and Pete Coccoma.
There was something nearly Celtic about the interplay of the violin and guitar, something that stirred within me a call to return to the green pastures of the mother country my people have long since left. While we’re on the topic of that violin, let’s note that Elori Kramer exemplified true musicianship as she effortlessly shifted from broad, languid lines to bubbly, pizzicato moments. While the band is obviously comprised of talented musicians who lovingly compose their music, what won my heart eternally was their lyrics, specifically those of “Solitude,” the title track from the band’s EP:
“If I wanted my solitude,
I’d move to the city,
If I wanted to be with you,
I’d move to the woods for a little while.”
Think about that for a second; though delivered with light orchestration, those are heavy words of endearment, are they not? Alpenglow left me wanting more as they ended their set with a frenetic explosion of sound that dissipated into silence.
Chicago’s The Blisters, however, were a different story. I can understand that this quartet was put on the bill because of their obvious energy—at least the energy of the frontman—and hometown appeal, but other than that, I couldn’t understand what this underaged group of punk rockers was doing here, and second to boot! Billing conflict aside, The Blisters brought a set filled with 3-4 minute songs that captured that youthful defiance and unrefined nature that often gets lost as one ages. The quartet of exed hands riled up the crowd with their brief tunes and a call and response to end the set.
Finally Lucius took the stage. I was anxious and excited to see what they’d pull together as their set list. I was not surprised to find their set was perfect. “Wildewoman” had each woman in the crowd howling, with its head nod to the Chicago wind. It made me feel empowered as well; I felt as I did at the peak of my health, about six months ago, when I was biking twenty miles a day and juicing. My whole person felt light, untethered. There were quite a few moments where I found myself tearing up, finally giving in to the idea that holding back tears wasn’t going to be helpful or possible anymore, I let them go as I sang “Go Home” with the band.
I cried a lot during that set, but I find myself crying a lot more during sets that really impact me. I remember when The Head and The Heart were in town, I cried pretty hard to “Rivers and Roads.” I think crying is okay because obviously there is quite a bit of unresolved hurt that I carry around and carrying so much baggage is taxing on a person’s psyche. Plus, it’s heavy.
So, I cried. I’m not ashamed to admit that. I danced. I’m partially ashamed to admit that. I snapped a lot of pictures that will hold for me the moments I don’t want to lose. I spent a lot of time trying to write notes that would help me articulate what this show was, without getting overly verbose or emotional, but it didn’t happen that way. Again, I’m not apologizing; I’m human just like you, and I’d rather my words be written in honesty and not in the hopes of stringing together some ridiculous vocabulary and spewing facts in a manner that makes me sound more like a machine than flesh.
But my point in all of this rambling is: I felt infinite. When I walked out of that show, as I was walking towards the train, I felt as if everything I had been through was a blessing–each painful experience I had endured, every hand I have been dealt, every happy moment, every tear, a blessing. With an understanding of what it meant to be a wildewoman, I felt a sense of urgency to go forth and live my dream, to stop holding back on so many things in life because it is too brief to live so guarded. That is the power of live music, a strength imbued unto any audience that is lucky enough to have Lucius in its ear.