Live: Lost Leaders @ The Colony (06/30/22) and Caffe Lena (07/01/22)
Would you drive 430 miles over three separate occasions in one week to see a band? Well, I did and now I understand why Deadheads follow their hearts! This past week, I traveled to a Connecticut house show, The Colony in Woodstock, and Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs to see the Lost Leaders. What a blast! I am not really sure what hooked me into following them back in 2015. Was it musical prowess, their imagery, their capture of the human condition set to a beat, or their way of turning a phrase? No matter, put it all together and when you go to a show their tight harmonies and musicianship will hook you, too.
If you have never seen Lost Leaders or listened to their music, you definitely need to. Lost Leaders are comprised of founders Byron Isaacs (Ollabelle, Lumineers) and Peter Cole (Lava Baby), who are joined by Will Bryant and Lee Falco (both from The Restless Age).
This is one talented bunch! Isaacs shares writing and lead vocal duties with Cole, and covers the bass for most songs (occasionally trading it to Bryant for an acoustic guitar when a song demands that tone and vibe). He writes, produces, and plays bass for various other musicians as well, so keep an eye out for his name elsewhere. Cole, the electric guitar power of the group, contributes his vocal talents and provides the diverse sonic tone and effect that give their songs texture. He chooses a tool from among a trio of guitars – a Gretsch, Gibson, and Epiphone (for you guitar aficionados). The quartet is rounded out by Bryant on piano and keys, and Falco on drums, who also contribute to the harmonies. This group also lends their talents to other musicians, so watch for them to pop up live with folks like Jim Keller, and in production credits.
Now, for the review! This band brought and entertained the crowds at both The Colony and Caffe Lena. The Colony show had a surprise opener: Connor Kennedy, a stranger to me, but familiar to the Woodstock crowd. His solo guitar songs wove life experience with his tone and delivery, giving me a vibe reminiscent of Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot, so I was happy to buy a CD and will dive into a little more of his music.
Lost Leaders’ setlists at both The Colony and Caffe Lena were pulled from their deep catalog. They mixed in a couple of tunes from their alt-country previous incarnation, Lowdowners (personal favorites of my significant other and me), and blended them with songs from their EPs and CDs The Perfect Lie, Lost Leaders, Heavy Lifting, and Promises Promises. All this music is available online, so check it out!
At Caffe Lena, the band kept the attention of the packed house, where there were two sets and a live streaming opportunity (yay!). Chatting with some attendees, we met folks who wandered in from the street in true Caffe Lena tradition, along with a couple who were visiting all the way from Pennsylvania. The Lost Leaders took the audience through their entertaining social commentary, spanning “Horizontal Man”, to pop culture AI references from “I Will (Fulfill)”, and on to their new song “Long Way Down.” A true ensemble, Isaacs and Cole swap lead vocal and harmony duties while Falco provides a steady, formally trained, backbeat and provides tight harmonies with Bryant, who dazzles in various piano styles.
On “Fallen Stars,” Falco demonstrated his prowess from the best seat in the house and created subtlety and emphasis in expertly applied precision. On “Never Too Late,” Cole’s 70s swirling guitar work conjured up a mellow auditory lava lamp. Bryant’s piano skills shone on “Too Good to be True,” with Falco watching him like, well, a falcon, keeping tight time in step with the unfolding piano arpeggios. Cole embellished the energy with jet effects on his guitar, with the group rising in a crescendo to Cole’s guitar solo, then coming together to bring the song home in a mellow resolution on the last verse. Other catalog favorites included, “I’m Gonna Win” from the Lost Leaders CD (you never do forget your first love!), a catchy two-step tune with harmonies that makes you wish you could sing all the parts yourself. “Miracle Mile” from the Perfect Lie EP has a California 60s Haight-Asbury flavor providing background to a story of personal growth and finding oneself.
They treated the crowd with two recently dropped songs from their upcoming EP, Jealous Sun, “Foolish Heart” and “Long Way Down” (available on Spotify). Watch for its drop on July 29th. “Long Way Down,” a self-described tale of competition in the Catskills, is a great driving tune, with its beat raising the image of passing lane stripes flashing by. “Foolish Heart” is the newest song and is accompanied by an 80s-style non-sequitor video of Cole and Isaacs pitched in various one-on-one sports contests. Do yourself a favor, and seek the Lost Leaders out on your favorite music platform and on YouTube. I wouldn’t steer you wrong!