This is a review. This is a biased review. I’ve been following Lucid Fate’s career, because they’re my friends. So this is their story, which I supposed you’d have to say is my story, too—they play music; I write about it.
Lucid Fate took second place in the Thursday night of the first round of Emergenza in Milwaukee, propelling them and three other bands to March’s second round. Emergenza is an emergent extravaganza, an international battle of the unsigned bands. The first two rounds are decided by crowd vote (a simple show of hands).
Since we last checked in on Lucid Fate for Music Spectrum, they have added Charlie “Chuck” Bussian on bass, anchoring the rhythms of Elijah Leclair’s drums and underscoring the resonance in the Werners’ tunes. Jeremy “Miah” Werner (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) has developed more confidence as the front man, shown in the closing song of their 25 minute set, where Miah set down his guitar to just sing his heart out.
Josh Werner continually is searching for new sounds on his electric guitar, an experimentation that leads to multiple versions of songs. For instance, “Fragile Heart” was built around high point bridge featuring Josh’s chiming electric. A newer version the band played at an October youth retreat found Josh doodling through the chiming portions like he was reaching for the jazz guitar of Pat Metheny. After band discussions, the version of “Fragile Heart” played on the Vnuk’s stage for Emergenza returned to those chime tones, only going to the jazzy doodles once the song had built towards its conclusion.
That king of commitment to designing and redesigning tunes led to Lucid Fate having a very solid set on November 17, despite some guitar/sound problem. The band has found what they need—adding harmony vocals from Bussian and Josh, letting Leclair’s rhythms find stability and ingenuity, and putting the songs first.
When I first heard Jeremy Werner singing, all of his songs took on a slightly tortured-heart tone. With growing bright tones from Josh’s guitar, LeClair’s kick beat, and Bussian’s playful but serious bass pinging, Miah’s singing has now taken on a more well-rounded range of emotions. When the songs hit a powerful bridge, there’s a sense of fun, enjoying how the songs can rock where they have a pop rock hitch in their step.
Intro electric washes on “Perfect Day” and “Night to Day” fall out into a style that borrows from Matchbox 20, the Wallflowers, and John Mayer, and yet, the AltCountry sound is alive and well. This isn’t a twang, but it slides into the bounce. It’s broader rock, but still having a rootsy sound. “Fragile Heart” starts with a waltz feel that’s commonly tapped by the Country-influenced rock bands. However, “Fragile Heart” is the one with the fantastic guitar-rhythm break bridge with the energy of a country Dodge Charger headed into the city. A newer triplet rhythm into the final bridge capitalizes on this.
For the next round, a newer Lucid Fate lineup can be put on stage. Moses joins for soulful, harmony vocals. Long-time friend from Two Rivers, WI, Justin Dean, will contribute additional guitars. Round 2 will continue to see this band emerge above the rest in Emergenza.
The winner of the Thursday night first round was the Memory. Lucid Fate features twin brothers, but the Memory is a band of three, three brothers. Dedicated to the memory of their father who passed away a few years ago and armed with song about him, the Memory describe themselves as Emo. You can hear tones of Jimmy Eat World, although a closing song had a little of that AltCountry waltz that showcased the guitar. When they let high tones speak from the guitar, that differentiates the basic rhythm foundation which could quickly became emo-blah. It is good to see that this band will be moving on, because should the Memory find the right producer/studio, their songs could really come alive. However, they’re going to need to add a brother (at least adopt one), because they’ll need a lead guitar to truly let the songs emerge.
Junction 31 also will hit the stage in March with their self-described “melodic punk rock.” Kyle’s drumming leads this band from out of a tailspin that would’ve caused me to hit the ejection seat button. I told Kyle as much, saying that I would’ve voted for the band had it just been about his drumming. In exchange for the compliment, he gave a copy of their demo CD which sounds better than their performance at Vnuk’s. On stage, guitar and bass had trouble keeping up with the rhythm, and their twin vocals were not whiny enough to be Blink 182 but also not growling tough to be on the other end of punk. Plus, their set will improve if Dustin’s lead guitar can bring out the more melodic parts of their songs.
Not making out of the first round, Epik is like being in an 80’s John Hughes movie where the band in the high school gym is a little bit of a parody of a hair metal band but still you find the band’s music intoxicating as you watch the movie’s hero and heroine inexplicably shake off the popularity caste system and fall madly in love. Epik drew me in with good vocals, metal guitar with a pop edge, and bombastic drums. On a song sounding like Queen, the lyric is “we hold you in contempt.” Unfortunately, that was true for the crowd, shying away from the stage back to the bar, nowhere to be found when it was time raise hands in voting.