|Cleveland Scene (November, 1996) - Steven Batten :
It was Grand Royal night at the Odeon last Thursday, and even a typically blustery Cleveland evening couldn't keep the fans away, as Luscious Jackson premiered tracks from their brand new release, "Fever In Fever Out", with labelmates Buffalo Daughter and the Josephine Wiggs Experience in support. If you watched closely, you might even have had a Beastie Boy sighting or two. It was that kind of night. Buffalo Daughter had the enviable distinction of opening for Luscious Jackson, but truth be told, the oddball trio didn't exactly make the most of its opportunity. Sort of like Cibo Matto with a serious streak, BD's space-age sonic noodling grew dreary after a spell, inducing drowsiness in even the most attentive concertgoer. In short, the band's set was characterized by a lot of cool sounds, but not a lot of good songs. Had anyone wanted cool that badly, they could've stood outside.
Former Breeders bassist Josephine Wiggs brought a relaxed vibe to the table with her new, self-titled band. Opening the show with a too-brief nine-song, 40-minute set culled from their Grand Royal debut, "Bon Bon Lifestyle", the band shifted between jazzy mellow and alterna cool, often recalling a less-refined Urge Overkill. Joined by John Mattock, drummer and percussionist with Spaceman 3 and later Spiritualized, the versatile Wiggs (she produced the LJ side-project Kostars, and toured with them on drums this past summer) kept things interesting and the pace fluid as she switched off on stand-up bass and guitar, joined on numerous occasions by LJ keyboardist Vivian Trimble ("An evening with Vivian Trimble," Wiggs would joke on several occasions).
Highlights included "Arizona," which Wiggs introduced as being "about a girl born not far from here, in Dayton, Ohio, by the name of Deal." Kim? Kelley? The instrumental "Trieste" was another high point, likewise "Vivi's Fugue," easily the best of show. Give 'em some time (this was only their eighth show ... ever), and there might just be something here to go on.
Luscious Jackson returned to Cleveland in some more suitable confines (they opened for R.E.M. last year at Gund Arena), and their set belied a new found confidence and charisma to go with their energetic performance. Playing tracks from their three releases, the New York quartet broke things open three songs in with their first bona fide radio single, Fever's "Naked Eye." From there, it was smooth sailing, with emphasis on the smooth.
Vocalist/bassist Jill Cunniff was front and center throughout, but it would be tough to single any of the four as the center of attention. To Cunniff's right, guitarist Gabrielle Glaser riffed it up with the best of 'em, playing the aloof guitar hero to a T. Trimble brought a quiet cool from the other side of the stage, layering splendid melodies from her keyboard against the garagy guitar-bass rumble and heavy-duty hip-hopped drums from resident extrovert Kate Schellenbach.
Glaser sang lead on Fever's "Electric," her shy vocals contrasting her upfront fretwork. "Strongman," from '94's "Natural Ingredients", was an early highlight, ditto the textured smooth of Fever's "Soothe Yourself," accented by Schellenbach's percussive presence. "We thought this would be a horrid show to play because of the snow," Cunniff said, addressing the 600-or-so strong crowd. "It seems that everyone's getting along just fine." In fact, band and fans got on fine throughout the hour-plus set, and the light mood gave way to some musical chairs as the set built to a close. Cunniff and Glaser traded off on guitar and bass over the last five songs, best of which was Fever's "Under Your Skin." Following Natural Ingredients' "Surprise," Luscious threw out another surprise: "69 Annee Erotique," from the "Ain't Nothing But A She Thing" compilation. "Citysong" brought to a rousing conclusion a show that indeed lived up to its Grand Royal billing. LJ's set was bouncy yet solid, high strung but laid back. Set to a hip hop-fuelled groove, it was a formidable combination. Expect Luscious Jackson's slow but sure and steady upward climb to continue.