There is something about a cold snap that brings out the positive vibes in South Floridians. When the heat relents, the area seems to share in a unison sigh of relief that brings out the best in locals. The weather, in conjunction with its inherent good vibes, makes the perfect backdrop for a good concert, too. Last night, a healthy flock of Lucero fans dusted off articles of long-neglected outerwear and filled up Fort Lauderdale's Culture Room to take in the band's alcohol drenched Americana-rock.
The evening was in painted in images of raised beers sloshing out of cups, friends hanging off of each other's shoulders, and a band that turned the Culture Room into their very own hometown dive.
With a taxidermy gator head resting comfortably atop Roy Berry's bass drum, the group struck up a lazy Southern groove beneath Ben Nichols' whiskey burnt vocals. The opening of the set had the crowd swaying into one another, singing along loudly over the twangy guitar and boogie-woogie piano rolls.
Nichols gave a telling glance and smile to the audience during the introductory chords of "Downtown," silently affirming that the audience was a good one and that Wednesday night was going to be just fine before kicking into "On My Way Downtown." The band hit its stride during "Nights Like These," a universally relatable slice of Southern melancholia that had the crowd spilling beer and bolstering Nichols' gravelly reports with its own drunken shouts.
The song was just the tipping point of a marathon set that reached back to the band's early days, with Nichols honoring a fan's request for deep cut (after checking if the band remembered how to play it, of course) and featured a cover of Jawbreaker's "Kiss the Bottle," a major highlight of the night for us.
Conversation was kept minimal (the songs say more than enough, after all), however Nichols gave the audience a brief anecdote about how "On the Other Side of Lonesome" came to be, claiming a lover once told him "If you write me a song that sounds like Otis Redding, I'll be your's forever" before lamenting that it must not have sounded much like Otis Redding. The band played like the seasoned pros they are: No notes were out of place, the expanded lineup (featuring a horn section and keyboardist/industry vet Rick Steff) brought a fresh life to the spareness of early cuts like "Little Silver Heart," and the group, appearing more the image of roadies than rockstars, seemed to be deep in its element.
The night was an intimate one, but for a band this many records deep, perpetually bound to the road, and this important to its fans, it was simply a perfect evening. A couple danced drunkenly in a puddle of spilled beer during the song "Slow Dancing," friends locked arms and swayed, and the show felt like an idyllic rendering of what a weekend night at a Southern dive bar should be.
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