The spirit of Sly and the Family Stone was alive and well at Songbyrd Music House thanks to the soulful sounds of Lawrence.
An eight-piece soul-pop band whose members largely comprise of Brown University alumni who met during college, Lawrence is fronted by and named after siblings Gracie and Clyde Lawrence. They released their debut album, Breakfast, in March and recently garnered rave reviews for their Bonnaroo debut. The time was right for them to make their way to DC for the first time and get the crowd dancing.
From the very beginning, Lawrence made their presence known with impeccable timing between the eight wildly moving parts on stage. Singer Gracie Lawrence danced about on stage, belting out impressive falsettos in-between impressive hair-flips. When not on vocal duties, she took up the tambourine and joined the horn section for a bit of dancing while her brother took the lead on singing. Clyde Lawrence complements his sister’s stage role of kinetic singer by providing his own vocals and laying the foundation on keyboard. With his deep, soulful voice and keyboard chops, he helps propel the band on songs like “Superficial” that would make Billy Preston and Stevie Wonder proud. Meanwhile, the three-piece horn section two-stepped in sync with one another while trading solos with guitarist Johnny Koh.
These different pieces of the band come together beautifully, especially on songs like “Oh No.” Opening with a sole piano melody, the song slowly builds up and adds the various pieces of the band into the mix until the climactic and joyful horn-filled ending. By the time the final chorus comes along, Gracie’s soulful falsettos taking turns with Clyde’s equally-impressive vocals and keyboard work with their impressive band backing them up had the crowd enthusiastically singing along with the siblings.
As much fun as their own songs are, Lawrence had a few other crowd-pleasing tricks up their sleeve. As many great bar bands will attest to, there’s nothing like a good cover. The band had three of them – Sean Paul’s “Get Busy”, Destiny Child’s “Say My Name”, and Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back”. All three were given the Lawrence treatment, injecting the song with new energy through the welcome addition of sax solos, funk guitar, and the Lawrence sibilngs’ soaring vocals.
If there was one band that deserves a bigger stage this year, it is definitely Lawrence. The positive energy and showmanship that the band exuded is up there alongside bands like LCD Soundsystem, Misterwives or Lettuce. Their well-choreographed performances on stage and infectious high energy is a definite treat to witness live. It’s only a matter of time before the world gets turned on to Lawrence’s standard operating procedure of fun times for all.
Opening for Lawrence was DC singer-songwriter Cecily. Accompanied by a guitarist on one side and a drum pad player on the other, she sang equally soulful songs that channeled the likes of Lauryn Hill and Mary J. Blige. On “Real Love”, a song for which she released a music video in May, her falsetto and emotion shined through for the crowd to enjoy. Her 2015 self-titled EP is available on iTunes.