When a friend asks you, "Hey, I have an extra ticket for The Lumineers show tonight, would you like it?" you take it. You take it and wait patiently to be transported to a beautiful past filled with grassroots love and folk.
Photo Courtesy of QROMag
Such was my luck Monday evening, and it was maybe the fourth opportunity I have had to see the meteorically rising folk quintet from Denver, CO. From canceled appearances, to sold out shows, fortune had never favored my seeing them. Yet again, they sold out an American Express sponsored, NY appearance in 5 minutes. Monday night however, my luck changed.
The doors opened at 8, and we arrived around 8:45 to try and beat the crowd. Somehow, we succeeded. About 10 till, the line began to swell behind us, filling with adoring fans, fighting scalpers, and people looking for that last minute entrance into one of the city's most currently acclaimed live shows. Their debut album is phenomenal, but it is the shows that seem to be on everyone's tongue. At 9 PM sharp, I got to witness what the fuss was all about.
The stage itself was adorned with 3 rustic metal chandeliers that hung gorgeously above the stage, and cast a warm glow on the band. The rest of the set looked something like a porch, and it felt as if they had come to your home, just to play. This really created the mood for the rest of the night.
As the lights dimmed and the band came on, the roar of the crowd lifted up to the rafters of Terminal 5, a massive 3 story venue. They opened with the uplifting and bouncy "Submarine," and the roar got even louder. A few songs later, "Flowers in Your Hair" saw the crowd settle down a bit, but then came one of the first surprises of the evening.
I really appreciate a band who values all of their music equally, and knows their audience well enough to assume they can do the same. "Ho, Hey", the bands first single which launched them to fame, was just the fourth song of the evening. There was no saving it until the end, or special treatment. Lead Singer Wesley Schultz did quiet the audience though, and conducted them through singing the first verse a cappella with simple waves of his hand.
The crowd was noisy throughout, but for the first time in my life, it felt right. The whole place seemed to transform into a noisy, old timey saloon, and it could not have felt more perfect. The band meandered their way through songs -- including a near perfect cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," and one new song -- while drummer Jeremiah Fraites and pianist Stelth Ulvang danced effortlessly around the stage, from instrument to instrument.
At one point, Wesley asked for the crowd to part, and he sent his guitar and a chair crowd surfing above them. He then hopped over the guardrail to follow. While standing atop the chair, the audience was left dazzled by a close up, and absolutely enchanting version of "Elouise." Best part, he asked everyone to "put the phones down, and just be here with them." Almost everyone complied. Yet another surprise in a night full of them.
Once he was back onstage, we were treated to the final few songs before the encore, including another crowd favorite (and big time sing along) "Stubborn Love." One scan of the crowd, and it was easy to see the faces painted with smiles, and love simply pouring from eyes to stage. The fixation that this band commands through out their show is one you rarely get the joy of seeing.
The encore was simple and elegant. Two slower songs ("Morning Song" and "Gun Song") and the boastful and booming "Big Parade". It was everything that could have been asked for and more. The band left the stage, and the crowd shuffled happily to the exits, knowing they had just experience something wonderful. Joy and exuberance were the only possible feelings for Monday night, and vocal chords were left sore from singing out as loud as one possibly could.