For indie-folk newbies The Lumineers
, it's been a convenient and steady ride to the top. Their self-titled debut album hitting the billboard charts at number two this week, alongside their Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and a recent appearance on Saturday Night Live show their brand is in high demand, as it was at their sold out performance in Washington, DC at the DAR Constitution Hall.
Priming the audience with Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain" prior to their appearance onstage, crowd anticipation was high. The stage was covered with remnants of Americana, emblematic of the folk roots they try so hard to imbue their music with: steamer trunks, antiques, lamps, radios, and even an old standing coat-hanger they literally hung and interchanged their fedoras and cardigans from during the show.
Set against a white backdrop with blue/red stage lights to back them up, the mood of their show was inclusive and gracious. Indeed, the two different and yet intertwined impressions one came away from their show with were talent and gratitude. The band generously thanked their fans when they acknowledged their quick rise, accolades they've earned and the fact that the DAR show was the largest venue they’ve played yet on the East coast.
Beginning with their heavy percussion and piano-laden "Submarines," they weaved a path through their album, and even the venue. From trotting back and forth across the stage to the drum beats and unnecessary and repetitive tosses of a fedora onto the stage by lead singer Wesley Schultz, their performance was dynamic in movement as well.
If anything, their set seemed focused on creating moments and an air of closeness one would assume to follow in a much smaller venue. Schultz asked the audience to stow their smartphones and "be present" with them as they picked up their instruments, left the stage and performed their hit single "Ho Hey" unplugged from atop the soundstage towards the back end of the venue. They did an excellent job of incorporating the audience, who carried it when the bands vocals could not quite be made out.
After jamming out and extending versions of "Dead Sea" and "Stubborn Love," they unveiled an as-yet-untitled sentimental duet between Schultz and cellist/vocalist Neyla Pekarek, which came across as a somewhat sappy conversation between lovers. The band's dynamism gave raw, positive energy that was both drawing and impressive. Having played each track on their album plus a few new songs, they doubled back and performed "Ho Hey" once more with the aid of live instruments, giving the crowd the chance to enjoy the single in case they’d missed out on hearing the acoustic version.
This show brought a sense of awe from The Lumineers, mingled with anticipation and enjoyment from the audience and an interactive vibe that kept each feeding off of the other. The band also indulged concert-goers with an encore of three songs, ending with a cover of The Talking Head's "This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)" they also worked in a cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" with a lively and upbeat twist. No one knows how long the indie-folk moment The Lumineers are spearheading will stay aflame but with performances, and sold out shows like this audiences will likely be able to see a progression and hopefully a maturation from the jam-based folksy energy into something more.All photos courtesy of Fizzkitty Foto