With a set stage and a band in waiting, High Noon Saloon garnered quite the crowd Tuesday night.
Lawrence — the eight-piece pop-soul group led by brother-sister duo Clyde and Gracie Lawrence — huddled together for a pre-show pump-up, which usually entails dedicating the concert to someone and reciting an ever-evolving chant to get everyone “amped up,” as Clyde put it.
“[They’re] inside jokes that turn into group chants,” Clyde said. “I can’t even repeat them because they’re so weird it’s not even English.”
Soon after, Lawrence bounded onstage, greeted with lively applause for such an intimate venue. Clyde — sporting a shirt that reads “I am the Walrus” — took his spot behind the keyboard, while Gracie repped a New York Knicks jersey and stood beside him before the microphone.
Illuminated by hazey violet stage lights, the band kicked off their show at High Noon Saloon with “The Heartburn Song,” one of the funkiest tracks from their new album, Living Room, which was co-produced by saxophonist Jordan Cohen, guitarist Jonny Koh, Eli Crews, as well as Clyde and Gracie themselves.
Living Room is aptly titled, not only because it’s the location where Clyde and Gracie wrote much of their new music, but because the band makes concertgoers feel right at home. Lawrence lets their guard down and invites the audience into the show, whether its Clyde bantering with crowd members, Gracie kneeling down mid-song to serenade a fan who she notices is taking a video, or the three-man horn section jumping down from the stage and parading through the crowd during the hit single “Do You Wanna Do Nothing With Me?”
Three songs in, the band paused to ask the audience if they were familiar with Lawrence’s first album — Breakfast, which, judging by the enthusiastic cheers, they definitely were. Side chatter among audience members subsided, and in a mesmerizing moment of solidarity, the crowd molded into one voice to sing with the band as they eased into “Misty Morning,” a nostalgic track featuring soft vocals and a relaxed tempo.
“Getting up on stage in a place that we’ve never performed before and having a full room of people singing along to nearly every word — that kind of positive feedback from people, that really energizes us in a lot of ways,” Clyde said. “We have … all the people who come to the shows to thank for that, honestly.”
A few songs later, Lawrence kicked it into high gear for their infamous rendition of Sean Paul’s “Get Busy,” an energizing, full-bodied cover that breathes new life into the early 2000s dancehall reggae beat. After the last note, the band — all but Gracie and Clyde — exited the stage.
The siblings took a moment to catch their breath between swigs of water before addressing the crowd.
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“Alright, now something completely different,” Clyde remarked, eliciting a laugh from the audience. “Most of the Lawrence shows are spent very high energy, very loud. If you guys don’t mind, we’re going to bring it down for a little ballad action.”
The duo performed “Too Easy,” one of the most emotional songs from Living Room, featuring only light piano and gripping vocals.
The next day, while speaking with The Badger Herald from the tour bus, Clyde cited “Too Easy” as being one of his favorite songs to perform because of how the crowd quiets down amidst the party atmosphere to listen and absorb the lyrics.
“It’s such an honor to have the audience willing to go with us to that place,” Clyde said.
As for Gracie, one of her favorites to perform is “Make a Move,” the female empowerment anthem off Living Room. She took a moment to dedicate the song to all of the people in the crowd who identified themselves as women.
She said it is a joy to see girls responding to the song, making her particularly happy.
“It’s a part of our fan base that I want to make sure is always serviced and appreciated,” Gracie said.
The appreciation was recognized, maintaining the genuine ambience filling High Noon Saloon.
Lawrence closed out their show with an encore performance of “Natural Woman” in honor of Carol King and in memory of Aretha Franklin, one of Gracie and Clyde’s all-time favorite artists.
“We’ve played it before at other shows and it’s just an amazing song,” Gracie said. “I don’t think we get an opportunity often to do covers that are more emotional and less bombastic.”
It is rare to find a band like Lawrence, a band of genre-bending trailblazers who flawlessly mesh soul-pop, R&B and funk with modern synth sounds. The group brings raw talent and an infectious joy to the stage every time they perform, which will be quite a lot between now and mid-December as they traverse the world on tour.
Lawrence will return to Wisconsin Saturday to perform in Milwaukee, which is a relief since they were not able to try the state’s classic food staple their first time around.
“We did not cheese curd it up, unfortunately,” Clyde joked. “It’s on our to-do list for next time.”