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On Friday, October 5th, Denver- based American-folk band The Lumineers performed a sold-out show at the Lobero Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara.
Although the band’s self-titled debut album was just released in April, their success has rapidly escalated. Most repeatedly compared to popular British folk band Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers have garnered their own claim to popularity with the help of an infectious ad for Microsoft Bing and word of mouth. Marcus Mumford of Mumford of Sons actually cited them as his new favorite band.
On Friday, the band proved this recognition as merited.
Fronted by singer-guitarist Wesley Schultz (who looked straight out of the 1930s on Friday night), the rest of the trio included Jeremiah Fraites as percussionist and multi-instrumentalist, as well as cellist and singer Neyla Pekarek and was augmented with a pair of multi-instrumentalists for the tour.
Before the set at the Lobero had actually begun, a surge of young concert-goers clad in stylish Urban Outfitters apparel crowded the edge of the stage, waiting with eager eyes and ears, while the older variety of the audience remained in their seats.
Finally, red lights enveloped the stage and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” began to play. Those who had remained in their seats stood up and the entire audience clapped along with the beat before the band finally came out. Illuminated white drapes served as a backdrop, giving the stage an intimate candlelit semblance.
During their performance of “The Big Parade,” after which the tour is named, Schultz remarked, “This is our first time in Santa Barbara,” right before lifting his guitar into the air and crying out the lyrics, “I’m in love!” Throughout the set, the band infused the crowd with a magnetic energy. During their most popular single, “Ho Hey,” Fraites divided the audience into the two parts “ho” and “hey,” an act of call-and-response that keeps the American folk tradition alive. As the song progressed, dancing ensued among the audience and voices bellowed within the theatre. After a water break, the band segued into a more somber sound with “The Dead Sea.”
“This song is about love,” Schultz said about the song before starting off alone with just his acoustic guitar. Calmness overcame the audience, until finally the rest of the band slowly joined in and crescendo filled the empty air.
During a couple of songs, Schultz requested that the audience put away their cell phones.
“You oughta be here, right now,” he said. Some audience members murmured discontentment with the request while others found the idea novel and complied. It was this kind of call for intimacy that brought about a rare richness to the show.
For the encore, which the crowd roared for, the band decided to play within the audience. Schultz stood in the middle of the audience, while Fraites and Pekarek stood on the right side and the other pair of instrumentalists on the left. As Schultz stood up, he said once more, “There’s only one rule: put those phones away.” And as Wesley began to play the sweet song, “Darlene,” Fraites cried out, “Sing loud, Wesley!”
As they made their way back to the stage, Schultz asked if anyone knew the first verse to the The Band’s “The Weight.” Finally Schultz called out a man in the audience, an older man with a head of hair like sea foam. He sang the verse with a country-tinged croon as the rest of the band, along with the audience, watched him.
The entire band joined in at the chorus along with the opening band (Bad Weather California) and the audience, as they all harmonized the lyric: “Take a load off, Annie, and you put the load right on me.”
Collectively, the entire theater carried the show to its final note.