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Lacey Sturm, Cage9; 08-18-2016, Omaha, Nebraska

Lacey Sturm
August 18th, 2016
The Slowdown
Omaha, Nebraska

Tonight’s show was one I’d been waiting for since seeing Lacey at Northern Invasion in May. Since first discovering them in 2004, Flyleaf has been the band that I turn to when I’m feeling hopeless. Lacey’s lyrics are full of positivity and hope, and give myself and so many others a sense of self-worth and inner peace. It’s easier to deal with our own personal Demons when we can find solace in the music of someone who’s also been through similar life pains.
I’ve been working through a very dark period for the last few months, and I knew that tonight’s show would be an emotional experience. It’s been an uphill struggle daily, and I wake up every morning wondering what new pain the Universe has prepared for me.
Having the show in Slowdown’s front room meant that the performance would be much more intimate that the venue’s main room.
Cage9, Panamanian/American alternative rock band, formed in Panama City in 1999, was chosen to open for the August leg of Lacey’s tour. The group was founded by Evan Rodaniche and is currently based out of Los Angeles, California. Rodaniche produced and sang backing vocals on a few of the tracks from Lacey’s solo debut.
Cage9’s performance was nothing short of spectacular. Seeing these 4 men thrashing around the stage as soon as they struck their opening song set the tone for tonight’s show. Their high energy performance was full of smashing guitars, Rodaniche’s searing vocals and, most importantly, authentic rock music. Even though Cage9 have been around for over 2 decades, the energy and passion that these men put into their set proves that music has a lasting power.
While I’ve only listened to a handful of the band’s tracks, their live show wasn’t simply them on stage playing cuts off of their albums. Each track was given extended introductions, heightened interludes, and blistering outros. By the time Cage9 finished their 45 minute set, the crowd was amped up for Lacey’s return to Omaha.
May 29th, 2010 was the last time Flyleaf had performed in Omaha, Nebraska while the band was touring for the Unite & Fight Tour. So much has changed since then, for Lacey and her fans. One thing remained strong and true though, not one single fan attending tonight’s show would be unaffected by Lacey’s performance.
Lacey took the stage like a quiet titan. This woman, all of 4’11”, has an aura of strength that surrounds her and envelopes her fans.
Seeing Lacey share the stage with Joshua Sturm, her husband and co-writer, give a greater delth to her performance. I had the opportunity to speak with Lacey at Nothern Invasion this past May, and she elaborated on how it’s much different than when she toured with Flyleaf. “I love my brothers in Flyleaf. I always will. But it’s a deeper love I share with Josh on stage now.”
That love is also shared with her fans. Throughout the show, Lacey shared stories with us about the meanings and inspiration behind many of the songs the band would play. The Soldier was inspired by Lacey’s respect for the military and their courage and strength. I’m Not Laughing led directly in Chasm, one of my favorite from Flyleaf. With a lengthy catalogue of tracks to play from her days in Flyleaf, each of those tracks has a special meaning to her. Lacey told us about how she’d received thousands of letters from fans all over the world after she’d announced her departure from Flyleaf. “I had no idea how much that decision would affect so many people.” While many of us understood why she chose to leave Flyleaf, it didn’t numb the pain so many of us experienced by losing Lacey’s voice and music.
Vanity, and Rot followed. Lacey just released an incredibly powerful video for Rot. The strength and courage that Lacey has found is inspirational. I can’t imagine what it must be like to write such personal music based on her own life’s experiences, then relive those moments on stage in front of hundreds of people each night she tours. For those of you not aware, Rot was written to bring attention to the sex trafficking and prostitution that runs rampant in far too many people’s lives. It’s also a song about finding the strength in yourself to overcome the toxic environments that plague so many of us.
Up next was the song I’ve been waiting to hear. You’re Not Alone came to being because of the passing of Lacey’s Aunt. The crowd went silent, listening attentively as she spoke. She told us about her Aunt’s lengthy battle with an illness that would eventually take her life. The song is about her Aunt telling her family that it’s ok to let her pass. You’re not alone. I went through a similar situation with my Grandfather two years ago. I have a great relationship with my Grandfather. He’s always been a source of strength in my family, until he had a stroke. It was heartbreaking for me to see the man who’d taught me to ride a horse, milk a cow, and drive a tractor, hooked up to so many machines in a hospital bed. I had wondered if he had the strength left in him to continue fighting. He looked so frail and spent. All I could do was cry, hug him and tell him that it was ok if he needed to let go. We would all be ok. Thankfully my Grandfather continues to find the strength to go on daily, even if he does joke about not knowing how many more weeks he has left in him. Hearing Lacey singing You’re Not Alone with her whole heart reminded me of how much love my family and friends have for me.
I spent most of Lacey Sturm’s Omaha performance in tears, hearing her music as if it were being told to me by friends and family. That’s the affect that music should have on people. It should stir the listener’s emotions and give them a sense of strength and unity.
For over an hour, as Joshua thrashed on stage left, and bassist Benjamin Hull bounced about stage right, Lacey twirled and spun about. While introducing the band, Lacey expressed her appreciation to her bandmates for having the faith to take the time off of their full time jobs to join her on the road and share their talents with their fans. And we truly appreciate the band taking the time to give us the opportunity to share an evening with them.
But tonight’s show wasn’t solely about tears of sorrow and joy. As Lacey told us the story behind Heavy Prey, we were given the chance to laugh. The track was the first that she’d written without her bandmates in Flyleaf, shortly after the release of the band’s sophomore album, Momento Mori. The song, from the Underworld: Awakening soundtrack, has a very funny story behind it. Lacey gave us a quick rundown of what the movie is about before they performed it. “There’s this vampire, and this werewolf, and they fall in love and have a baby. The baby, a daughter, the most powerful creature in the world, is taken away shortly after being born. Then her father, the werewolf dies, and her mother, the vampire, is frozen. Sixteen years later the child escapes, and the military doesn’t know how to handle her. And her mother wakes up and goes looking for her. And this reminded me of the story of Jesus.” The crowd burst into laughter. Hearing Lacey explain the movie, and the inspiration behind Heavy Prey was a touchingly hilarious story.
While each of us may take a different message from the music that we love, each of us should be able to find a common ground in the music. While I personalize much of Lacey’s music as though I’m hearing it from a loved one, others may hear the music as something they’d tell their loved ones, giving them words of encouragement and support as they fight through a difficult time.
Feels Like Forever and Faith followed. Two more powerful tracks to be heard live. Feels Like Forever was given a much heavier element then it’s album version. While Faith was toned down to a more acoustic level, and followed perfectly by Run To You. Quiet voices from the crowd found their courage to join Lacey’s in unison. Hands raised in the arm to show solidarity. Run To You was given an acoustic vibe, and upped the sense of urgency of the track. Hearing Lacey’s powerful words backed by the acoustic guitar from her husband
Coming to the end of her set, Roxanne, a cover of The Police’s classic 1978 anthem, gave the chance for the older generation to sing along, and reminded us that music unites us each of us. During my interview with her at Northern Invasion, I had asked Lacey why she chose that track to cover. “I want to tell you, but I don’t think I can. It has a very personal meaning to me, but I’m not ready to go into the details yet.”
Take that as you will, but covering a song like Roxanne proves that Lacey’s strength of will is astronomical.
After an improv song, Lacey payed homage to her time with Flyleaf and the music that first introduced her to so many of us. All Around Me, one of Flyleaf’s most popular songs, was also one of the tracks that Lacey had first written. While the focus of this tour’s set list was on her solo material, Lacey realizes that it was Flyleaf’s music that gave her the opportunity to share her music and message with the world. While it would have been wonderful to have heard each of the tracks in the Flyeaf medley, I’m So Sick, Fully Alive, and Call You Out, in their entirety, choosing those three songs for the medley strengthened the purpose of each individual track.
Lacey’s message took on a whole new meaning after the show. A friend and I were standing out back. I was broken and in tears. I’d spent the better part of two hours crying to him about the hopelessness that had sunk its claws into my soul. Tears had filled his eyes too. He was terrified that I may take myself away from him.
Lacey walked out of the venue, saw us standing there and came over. She asked me if I was ok. I couldn’t lie. At that moment I was not. She embraced me, told me to be strong, prayed with me, asked for my protection and reminded me how strong she knows I am.
Later on, while I still felt broken, my friend told me to “Remember that moment. Hold on to that memory. Use that to find your strength. I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”
I am loved. I am worth being loved. I may never be able to find the words to express how much I truly appreciate my friends. I hope they know how much their support means to me.
Stay strong my friends. Find hope in your friends. Find faith in music. Life screams. It’s calling out your name.

Lacey Sturm setlist:
The Soldier
I’m Not Laughing
Chasm (Flyleaf)
You’re Not Alone
Heavy Prey
Feels Like Forever
Run to You
Roxanne (The Police)
All Around Me (Flyleaf)
I’m So Sick / Fully Alive / Call You Out (Flyleaf Medley)



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