Apparently there was a line outside of Liberty Hall around 6:00pm last night for the sold-out Lumineers show, which had previously been booked at the Bottleneck. Trading up venues is a mark of a band’s level of success, and this move is particularly impressive considering that the Lumineers released their debut album in April. Yes, 2012. Which is not to say that the band hasn’t been working on it for a while (frontman Wesley Schultz and dude-of-all-trades Jeremiah Fraites have been playing together since 2005), but still, wow.
I unfortunately missed the Comettes, who, according to Shultz, had driven 500 miles just to play this Liberty Hall gig. But I did arrive in time for the lights to go low and red, and for Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” to come blaring over the speakers. The Lumineers came out as Lindsey Buckingham’s guitars were still twanging, then launched into “Submarines,” off the debut album from which most of the night’s material came.
It is easy to see how the Lumineers’ music has caught on so quickly — in the mode of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, the band capitalizes on a catchy variety of call-and-response, entirely un-ironic folk rock. Many of their songs have the quality of being instantly familiar, much like Sharpe and bands like the Avett Brothers. The live experience is similar to seeing those bands as well — the energy is high, the crowd is rapt. It’s fun, basically. Wesley Schultz commands a large crowd like he’s been at it for much longer than 6 months. Particularly endearing to me was the moment during “Ho Hey,” arguably the band’s most popular song, when he stopped the song to tell the crowd, “Put away your phones.” You know, actually experience the moment.
The band rolled for about an hour before exiting the stage (about as much as one can do with one album, though another is reportedly in the works), and returned to perform “The Weight” with the Comettes, and two additional covers, “Darlene” and “Boots of Spanish Leather.” The crowd was pretty hip, but maybe slanted a little too young to be as familiar with these songs as the Lumineers’ tunes (and the crowd honestly may have been happier had the band decided to play one or two of their own songs again), but if you come in with the Mac, why not go out with Dylan?
I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem (Sawmill Joe)
Flowers in Your Hair
Slow it Down
The Weight (The Band)
Boots of Spanish Leather (Bob Dylan)