Show Review: Lucero, Laura Jane Grace, and Heels at Minglewood Hall in Memphis, TN

At the end of the year, there are always two things to look forward to in the music industry: top 10 lists for records of the year and holiday shows. When holiday shows are announced, you know they’re to be some of the best shows, and the opening bands are going to be well worth the admission. Lucero’s Family Christmas show didn’t disappoint, for they had Laura Jane Grace and local Tennessee band Heels as opener at the sprawling Minglewood Hall in Memphis, TN.

Hailing from around Memphis, TN, Heels are a punk rock duo with drums and guitar that don’t take themselves too seriously. You could tell that this is two best friends enjoying making and playing music together, let it be to 10 people or 500 people. Drummer Joshua McLane was mostly the voice for between songs and didn’t hold back on the jokes even if kids were present. Jokes aside, as for their music, Heels sounded as tight as can be, and one would think they have been doing this for many, many years. It was also clear that there were fans already in attendance because when the song “Off With Their Heads” started, fans were singing along. Lucero did a good job adding Heels because I believe a lot of people took notice to them.

Laura Jane Grace has plenty to be happy about, and it was evident at the show. She was preparing to drop her new album Hole In My Head on February 16 through Polyvinyl Records, and during the show, she stated that in 48 hours, she would be getting married. Not a bad way to end and start the year. Laura did play new songs from her upcoming album including “I’m Not A Cop,” the pretty, powerful-sounding “Give Up The Ghost,” and “Dysphoria Hoodie,” for which she explained she would use a prop, an ADIDAS hoodie, to explain the song better for everyone.

Of course, she played a few Against Me! songs, but not as many because she explained she has been practicing lately with a full band for her upcoming tour and this was first time in awhile picking up the acoustic. She also played a few The Devouring Mothers covers including “I Hate Chicago,” which performed live was like channeling Henry Rollins. During the song, she went into a speech about Chicago that’s not on the recording. She did tell a few stories about Lucero, since she has toured with them for many years and was very thankful that they put her on the bill tonight.

What can be said about Lucero that hasn’t been said? Hitting 25 years as a band, being one of the hardest working bands, every band probably has a story about them, and they keep putting out high-quality music. This year they released their 12th full length Should’ve Learned By Now on their own label, Liberty & Lament. Should’ve Learned By Now is a Lucero album that takes the best parts of their albums and puts together as one.

Seeing a Lucero show one is in for sing-a-longs, acoustic ballads, rock ‘n’ roll, and enjoying a drink while watching Ben Nichols drives his words straight to your heart. For the Family Christmas show Lucero didn’t shy away from playing anything or worry about stopping. The best thing about their holiday show is that the age range was a wide spectrum and a young fan even requested four songs. Ben Nichols agreed to three but did say some of these songs were 20 years old and they don’t 100% hold up. However, being grateful a young fan had a request he went into “My Best Girl.”

As the night progressed Ben Nichols would of course switch to an acoustic guitar and continue to wreck the audience. The thing about Lucero is that this band may be known by every band and maybe toured with practically every band, but there is a reason they are loved by many bands and fans included. Seeing them play in their hometown showed how much loyalty there is for them, and it is clear, from the stories they shared, that they are the most genuine people out there. They are road dogs, and there are bands that get burnt out and bitter, but Lucero continue for what feels like could be forever. As they finished their set, they expressed their gratitude toward the audience. I’ve been to some holiday shows where bands wear costumes, things get weird, etc., but Lucero showed the other side of the holidays, the gift of giving. They gave fans a memorable night and all the praises to them.


Laura Jane Grace


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