Darlings of the Americana revival scene, The Lumineers took to the America’s Cup Pavilion stage on Wednesday, Sept 25 - the same evening that Steve Ellison’s Team USA had just won ‘the’ America’s Cup from Team New Zealand. Everywhere tourists were wearing discounted Team Oracle souvenir jackets but I hadn’t heard a shout-out from The Lumineers about the win.
Not that it mattered. Most concert-goers like most San Franciscans seemed indifferent. The Lumineers with their earnest lyrics and folksie-style did however, do well to try and make this sparse open-air venue more like the little Bay Area clubs they used to play on their way up the music totem pole.
Under the lights of their gold chandeliers, they kicked off with “Classy Girls”. That followed with frontman, Wesley Schultz asking, “Are you keeping warm San Francisco?” Next came “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem,” beautifully harmonized with cellist, Neyla Pekarek which met with a rousing applause from the crowd.
The Lumineers began originally in 2005 with frontman Wesley Schultz and drummer, Jeremiah Fraites in New York. They began writing music and doing gigs in the local circuit before deciding to leave the bright lights and big city for Denver, Colorado. Here a Craiglist ad in search of a cellist, brought forth, Pekarek who promptly joined the band. The threesome soon became very popular in their adopted new home. It has been only in the last year that the line-up has evolved to the present five, with Stelth Ulvang joining them on piano and Ben Wahamaki on bass. This works well in the bigger venues they are increasingly expected to play these days.
More favorites, “Flowers In Your Hair” and “Ho Hey” followed swiftly. Their biggest hit to date, the feet-stomping “Ho Hey” was first used on the popular TV show “Hart of Dixie “ and more recently was covered paired-down most excellently by real-life Canadian sisters, Hayley and Maisy Stella for the television show, “Nashville”. The two play children of Connie Britton’s character. This has helped keep the song in the public consciousness and the band in the charts.
Written before Schultz and Fraites left New York for a different scene in Colorado, tonight, the song seems to end too soon. But a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” is a good chaser. “Dead Sea” follows before the lights go down for “Slow It Down” and “Charlie Boy”
In the more intimate lighting, Schultz muses, “Sometimes, I feel like we should play at smaller venues again, places like Bottom-of-the-Hill and Hotel Utah that we use to play,” much to the delight of the home crowd, “…so I am going to try and recreate that.” He walks off stage with his acoustic guitar and into the sold-out floor with a spotlight on him and starts singing “
Later, Stelth Ulvang under another travelling spotlight would make his way to the bottom of the bleechers. How he manages not to trip over the stairs and all the concert-goers while still playing the accordion is amazing and much appreciated. They do their best to make the venue more intimate but America’s Cup Pavilion is an after-thought of a venue and with the brisk wind even on a mild San Francisco night, a few fans from the bleachers who exit after “Hey Ho” never return.
They miss out on a great rendition of "Stubborn Love" and the jaunty "Elouise", some of the other high points of the evening.
The Lumineers tour continues in Phoenix, Arizona (Comerica Theatre) on Oct 1, Oklahoma City (Downtown Airpark) on Oct 3 and Saint Louis (Chaifetz Arena) on Oct 10. For more dates, click here.
Ain’t Nobody’s Problem
Flowers in Your Hair
Subterranean Homesick Blues
Slow It Down