From show tunes to Shoreline

Lucius takes the stage at Live 105's BFD 2016

Music festivals can offer the alluring, if challenging, opportunity for curators and producers to mix and match genres over a few different stages throughout the course of a day.

For Live 105's 22nd annual BFD summer festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, a wide range of artists plucked from its playlists will be presented. From 11 a.m. to around 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, one can hear the melodic punk of The Offspring and Bad Religion, the alternative rock of Silversun Pickups and The Wombats, and the electronic beats of Blaqk Audio and Tokimonsta.

Slotted about halfway through the Bud Light Festival Stage's dozen-artist lineup, Lucius is an ideal festival band. Best known these days for its striking new-wave visuals and charismatic dual lead singers/keyboardists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the bi-coastal quintet has established a reputation for being able to seamlessly switch up musical styles.

The title track from "Wildewoman," Lucius' debut record from 2013, recalls the glory of 1960s chamber rock, while "Something About You" (from Lucius' sophomore album, "Good Grief," which came out on March 11 of this year) sounds like the lively 1980s synthpop that the group's live presentation references. "Two of Us on the Run" (off "Wildewoman") is infectious and atmospheric Americana, and "Born Again Teen" (from "Good Grief") gushes with catchy garage-rock swagger.

Wolfe was born in Los Angeles and moved with her family to the San Fernando Valley when she was 5 for better public school opportunities.

"As a kid, my mom could tell that I could sing, from a young age," Wolfe said. "And my parents thankfully nurtured that by just picking out opportunities locally like community theater and singing lessons a few years after that," she said.

"So I began by just doing what most community theaters offer, which is musicals. I started doing that when I was about 6 years old."

In addition to learning some of the show tunes that form the Great American Songbook, she also learned other standards via her father's record library. A fan of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Etta James and Dinah Washington, he introduced her to legendary vocalists who sang timeless material.

"I was lucky he had good taste in music, even though he had no real musical inclination himself," she reflected.

Bandmate Laessig grew up in Fairview Park, a suburb of Cleveland. The two Lucius vocalists and songwriters met while both in the vocal program at Boston's famed Berklee College of Music.

"Holly and I both were studying jazz at Berklee, and I also grew up listening to a lot of old-school soul music and blues and '60s rock & roll, as did she," Wolfe said.

"We both came from a similar place as far as what we were listening to as kids and then what we were interested in while we were in college. So when we first started writing together, it definitely had a tinge of jazz with a Portishead sort of feel about it," she went on to reveal. "Then as the years went on, we just transformed our sound as we continued to write."

With voices that either harmonize or blend like siblings', and matching outfits and hairstyles in concert and for photo shoots, Laessig and Wolfe sound and can even look like sisters. (There are family connections in Lucius: Wolfe and drummer Dan Molad are married. The band also includes guitarists Peter Lalish and Andrew Burri.)

"It was trial and error," Wolfe replied, when asked whether her and Laessig's voices initially meshed together as well they do now. "And we don't stick to one part. I'm not just an alto or a soprano. We switch off.

"And actually, a lot of times I'll be singing the lower part in the verse, and then I'll switch to the higher part in the chorus and vice-versa. We kind of dance around each other's voices depending on the song," she added. "Then when we're singing in unison, that's a whole other dynamic, as well."

The pair's mesmerizing team vocals and the overall group's musicianship — to say nothing of their arresting stage wear and design — have won over a devoted Bay Area fan base. Lucius has sold out shows in San Francisco at The Independent (in 2014) and the Great American Music Hall (in early March) and headlined The Catalyst in Santa Cruz about a month ago.

"Every time we've been up there, it's been a great celebration," she reported. "We were lucky enough to open for The Decemberists at the Greek (Theater, in Berkeley). That was really a special moment."

Wolfe says she's curious about both the other acts and the audience that will be at BFD. She attended a couple of Warped Tours when she was in junior high school, and Lucius' bonus track covers of Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and the late David Bowie's "Let's Dance " suggest that some of Live 105's classic programming was also part of her upbringing.

"I think the alternative scene is a bit different than what we're used to," she admitted. "But we appreciate any opportunity to play and will approach it with as much energy and fun as possible. So I think it'll be cool."

"I hope for a diverse audience. That always works best for us, I think," she went on to note. "We do pride ourselves on having such an eclectic group of people at our shows. There's never really one type of person. I'm so happy that it has an effect on different types of people."

As witnessed at The Catalyst last month, Lucius' powerful live show quickly wins over audiences. With colorful throwback attire that may inspire flashbacks of vintage Bowie, Annie Lennox or Grace Jones, Wolfe and Laessig project a cool-yet-fierce attitude that can be at once intimidating ("How can anyone be so hip?") and aspirational ("How can I be so hip?").

"There's definitely some theatrics," admitted Wolfe, who comes across in conversation as laid back and kind. "People love seeing what we come up with, because we get a little wacky. And I think it's something that fuels people's excitement and goes hand in hand with what we're doing musically.

"And coming from theater, I always loved that element of putting on a show. I think there's something very fantastic and magical about having that opportunity to whisk people away for a certain amount of time, to escape whatever it is that's going on in their life."

What: Live 105 BFD 2016.

When: Saturday, June 4, at 11 a.m.

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View.

Cost: $37.50-$99.50

Info: Go to Live 105 BFD or call 650-967-4040.

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