On Halloween 2018, pop-rockers Ludo held a reunion show at the Pageant in St. Louis, fittingly titled Halludoween. Labeling the show as a one night only event, the tickets sold out in approximately 15 minutes. Hoping to appease the fans who had experienced virtual radio silence since their last concert in 2012, the band and venue came together and decided to add a late show to the evening (which also sold out in less than half an hour).
Selling out a venue holding up to 2,300 people (not once, but twice) in under an hour is no small feat, especially for a band that hadn’t played a show together in six years. Ludo hadn’t even achieved this when they were actively touring the US. The St Louis locals were able to draw fans from all over North America to their hometown venue (where they previously hosted other holiday themed shows including “A Very Ludo Christmas”). Despite only having one hit radio single – 2008’s “Love Me Dead” – Ludo has cultivated a highly dedicated fanbase over the years that would quite literally do anything for them.
Ludo sounds exactly what you would expect an early 2000s small town garage rock band to sound like — only featuring lyrics filled with nerdy pop culture references and outrageously vivid storytelling. The band’s self-titled debut set the tone for how bizarre, yet captivating, the rest of their catalogue would be. Featuring direct references to 80s pop culture classics like E.T., The Wonder Years, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ludo is filled with nostalgia for the decade of science fiction and sitcoms. The quirky and often downright hilarious songwriting make Ludo a one-of-a-kind debut. The two singles, “Hum Along” and “Good Will Hunting By Myself”, are some of the most fun and memorable tracks on the album, however, they leave the listener with a definitive time stamp of when the songs were released.
“Hum Along”, telling the story of unrequited love between a guy and a girl he’s only seen one time, is a catchy and entertaining love song that falls into the most outlandish “what if” scenario of all time. Vocalist and songwriter Andrew Volpe delves into what their love story would look like if the object of his affection were to be kidnapped by pirates and he should play the hero. The cinematic storytelling of this single is part of what resonates with fans, but its also what dates the band.
“Good Will Hunting By Myself” is a danceable breakup song that begins as an explanation of how the narrator will be just fine and ends with a breakdown of the faults on his ex’s part in the relationship. Although the bridge includes some not-so-PC lyrics, Volpe has since adapted the spoken word portion word of the song in live performances to have a more feminist tone. While the original lyrics don’t age well, the single is one of the band’s most played songs on Spotify.
The rest of the album expands on a wide variety of subject matter such as nostalgia, love found and love lost, and beer binges behind Burger King. Non-single standout tracks include “Saturday Night Thunderbolt”, “Laundry Girl”, and “Hello, My Name Is Your T.V.”, all of which are based on basic pop-rock melodies, but again, the storytelling is truly what carries the album into the unexpected territory that keeps the listener engaged. Ludo manages to represent what Ludo does best – reminding us not to take ourselves to seriously while also making the not so pretty aspects of life more laughable.
Ludo’s first album is immature (not necessarily in a bad way), but memorable. The songs on Ludo fit exclusively on this album and exemplify what made them stand out amongst all of the other independent bands touring the midwest in the early 2000s. The songs are just pop enough to be catchy and just rock enough to garner the street cred as something your older brother would listen to before he went off to college. Though for what it lacks in originality sonically, it definitely displays room for growth while also delivering the captivating storytelling that fans crave. Ludo’s personality and quirkiness are audible throughout the record and are resonated with fans enough to stick around for a reunion show in 2018.