Even with the Grammys coming up, there were probably few in the audience who were concerned whether or not the Lumineers would win Best New Artist (they didn’t). It didn’t matter as those in attendance felt lucky enough to attend one of the two sold out shows from the folksy Denver-based band at New York City’s Terminal 5. Arriving into the venue, after trundling through the cold weather and past the calls of numerous ticket brokers, the audience was greeted by the music of the openers, Y La Bamba, a folk band from Oregon. After their set, the crowd was still filing in, swelling till they reached the venue’s capacity, awaiting the conclusion of the stage preparation and the arrival of the headliners.
The moment was marked by the dimming of the lights, and the broadcast of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”, playing nearly all the way through its climax, just before the Lumineers appeared. The core trio of Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites, and Neyla Pekarek are accompanied by Stelth Ulvang, Ben Wahamaki and some antique furniture as they tour. They began with the upbeat “Submarines” and continued into “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem”, a song regularly in their repertoire but only recently released on an EP.
Soon after, the Lumineers frontman Schultz politely asked the crowd to not use electronic devices for the next song. But the audience couldn’t resist disobeying as many held up their phones to capture the acoustic, unamplified effort that was “Ho Hey” in a group sing-along. This wasn’t as bothersome to me as I would have guessed but unfortunately, I was having more trouble even hearing the song. It was barely audible beyond the first floor of the oft-maligned Terminal 5. Fortunately, the Lumineers did remedy this situation for the highlight of the evening.
It was entirely unanticipated by the crowd, but the Lumineers had invited a children’s group, Success Academy Bronx 2, to perform with them. These scholars, all dressed up, divided into two groups moving towards either side of the stage, received a loud roar of approval. Then they sang the Lumineers’ second big hit “Stubborn Love” (the most inspired collaboration ever?). But what really goosed the audience was when one child, from the doubly-active stage-left group, placed himself just a bit more towards center stage and really let himself go. Fans pointed to the boisterous youth cheering him on. Following the fantastic “Stubborn Love”, Schultz decided he couldn’t let the kids go and kept them up (presumably already after their curfew) for do-over of “Ho Hey”, the other song they rehearsed. Already familiar with the words, the audience’s voices joined the enthusiastic children’s in exclamations of “Ho!” and “Hey!”.
With the thrill of the children’s presence finally over, there was still more time for the the Lumineers, so they kept on giving. Beyond their one album and the EP, the band had introduced a new love song, on which Schultz and Pekarek shared vocal duties, and fleshed out their set with a couple of covers, including Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and the Violent Femmes’ “American Music” for their rollicking conclusion. The Lumineers didn’t need to win any award to prove that they are one of the hottest new acts. Any band that can gather three thousand voices to shout “Hey!” in unison — in less than a year — can wear that hard won accolade with great pride.
Ain’t Nobody’s Problem
Flowers in Your Hair
Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan)
Slow It Down
Stubborn Love (w/ Success Academy)
Ho Hey (w/ Success Academy)
American Music (Violent Femmes)