(All photos by Ryan C. Zerfas. More at the bottom of the post.)
The Lumineers story could easily be a folk song—a tale about loss of brother and a friend, therapy in the name of porch stomp acoustic balladry, drinking from the chalice of hard knock realities of New York City living (technically Newww Jerrrrseeeey) and a resettling rediscovery in Denver. Followed by a grassroots uprising.
Riding high off the success of their single “Ho Hey,” the Lumineers would earn their self given champagne celebration during the encore. Before exclaiming to the audience how much Brooklyn felt like home, prior to playing the Talking Heads “This Must be the Place,” and passing their own celebratory bottle into the audience, the three-piece band charmed the sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg audience all night.
Life for the Lumineers hasn’t always been so easy.
In 2002, Wesley Shultz and Jeremiah Fraites lost Jeremiah’s brother and Wesley’s best friend, Josh, to a drug overdose at 19. Then ensues two friends cathartic tale of writing songs, playing gigs, causing trouble and eventually wearing themselves thin on the NYC cutthroat culture. They moved to Denver, and immediately put out an ad for a cellist, so, Neyla Pekarek, a classically trained local joined the band. The uprising began from there.
Their single “Hey Ho” caught the attention of many, most notably KEXP’s single of the day, Paste Magazine’s “What’s Next” and an illuminating placement on Hart of Dixie. Combining the screaming stomp of the Pixies “Hey” with the sentimental sap and brooding rasp of Ryan Bingham, the magical mixture has been able to uniquely meld what others in the root ripping stripped down Americana genre (Avett Brothers, Motel Motel, The Low Anthem, Justin Townes Earl) haven’t.
“I belong to you, you belong to me, you’re my sweetheart,” croons Shultz at a precariously welcome mid-set placement of “Hey Ho.” I love when bands do that,ride against the grain, and show the confidence in their other material, like similar foot to crooked porch percussion sing-a-longs “Big Parade” and “Stubborn Love.” You must feed the insatiable urge to clap along singing “oh-my-my, oh-hey-hey…” With such lovingly lavish lyrics, melodies that are easy to pick up, it’s hard to NOT hold a clinched fist over your heart and be slightly giddy, with thoughts of swirling hearts and puppy dog crushes.
The whole album (self titled debut) is chock full of “real boy” sentiment, continually delivered the way “real music” should—from within. It’s the kind sensibility you can close your eyes to, while the headache of life slips into the sweet sunset of soul deliverance. The feeling is exponentially expounded live, even if you didn’t know the music, like I didn’t. I have a feeling that for me, and for others, that’s about it change.
I’m glad I haven’t lived the life of the Lumineers. I haven’t experienced much loss or heartbreak. I live in a little box in NYC and pretty much do whatever I want. It’s a beautiful thing. I am, however, eternally grateful for the simplistic ease of pushing play and the musicians who’ve lived the life that make the music sound this way.
I can only hope to illuminate this fantastic notion to others…GET INTO THIS BAND.
Setlist: (I didn’t know all the songs and the band kept theirs electronically. This one from Philly looks right from my best educated guess of what happened.)
I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem (Sawmill Joe cover)
Flowers in Your Hair
Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan cover)
Slow It Down
This Must be the Place (Talking Heads cover)
|This starts a series of pictures in which I was trying to use|
concert goers phone screens as objects/variables, etc.
This one was SO CLOSE to what I wanted.
|Symmetry of Wes Shultz's junk.|
|Credit for the wonderful hand model with the orange ring not obtained.|
|Taken when getting an encore beer|
from the tv screen downstairs
|The Kopecky Family Band opened. A six-piece orchestra|
of do-it-all fun having melodies, for the whole family.