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The Lumineers @ Villians, Chicago

The Lumineers, live.
The Lumineers, live.Vanessa Pegram

The Lumineers play Villians Chicago


Seeing The Lumineers live is like going on a great first date; it's rare. And wonderful.

Acoustic jam in the crowd
Acoustic jam in the crowdVanessa Pegram

The combination of heart and humility this Denver trio bring to their performance makes them an undiscovered and untainted gem in the folk-rock scene. With lyrics sung just as honestly as they are written, to the heartbeat of percussion and pulse of cello and keys, The Lumineers have that intangible quality of sound the set them apart from anyone else. Their songs are searching but inviting. They sound of mountaintops and the South, heartache and triumph. They'll make you feel warm and lost at the same time. And they'll dare you not to stomp along.

"It's not about how you start, it's about how you finish," proclaimed Wesley Schultz, lead vocalist of The Lumineers as they ended their tour in Chicago Tuesday night at Villians.

The start in question was slow due to technical difficulties and sound issues (aka a bar with poor acoustics and noisy patrons) which prompted The Lumineers to unplug, jump off stage and treat the crowd to an amazing impromptu accoustic set in the middle of the bar. With Jeremiah Fraites manning the xylophone, the band had the crowd stomp-clapping, singing and cheering along to every melodic beat as they brought the house down and ended their tour with a sublime bang.

Between switching instrumments and stages, the band played an uplifting call and response set that included fan favorites 'Ho, Hey,' 'Stubborn Love,', 'Flowers in Your Hair' and a Talking Heads cover for good measure. Neyla Pekarek (cellist, vocals, etc) was all smiles as she stomped around in dangerously high heels as Jeremiah, (aptly named, and resembling a young, suspendered version of Woody Harrelson) constantly rotated behind the drums and stagefront, yelling, clapping and stomping with an energy that was contagious. Lead vocalist Wesley switched from piano to guitar as he poured his everything into the microphone. If Bob Dylan, Kelly Jones (of the Stereophonics) and Damien Rice somehow had a love child, it would be Wesley. His voice is powerful, yet raspy and belies a lick of southern heritage (they originally hail from the East Coast and now Denver).

They've been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley, The Avett Brothers, The Head and the Heart and Ryan Adams but they have this incredible sound that can only be categorized as The Lumineers. This time next year their name will be used to help describe the next up and comers. From their first song to their last, it was easy to see why they made Paste's Best of What's Next issue and there's only more to come. Like that great first date, you don't want it to end.

If you know what's good for you, check them out now!

Check back in early 2012 for the release of their first full-length album and follow them on Twitter for updates!