Concert Review: The Lumineers


The Band: The Lumineers, April 19 2013. A folk rock band from Denver, CO, the Lumineers epitomize the roots revival movement that is bringing back acoustic instruments, unadorned harmonies, and Dust Bowl era outfits á la Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s in Come On, Eileen. You all know “Ho, Hey,” from their 2012 debut album, but their songwriting chops are strong enough to keep them from following Dexy and his coveralled- crew into the One Hit Wonder bin.

The Venue: The Greek Theatre, Berkeley. Built in 1903, this amphitheater on the UC Berkeley campus, there is simply no better place to see a show on a warm spring night. The Lumineers thought so too, repeatedly talking about how gorgeous it was and leaving the stage at one point to perform a couple songs from a platform in the back, right in the middle of the crowd.

The Company: It’s my birthday season, so my best friend and most constant concert companion Maria and her teen daughter treated my teen daughter and me to the show. Maria and I got verklempt to see our girls set off into the crowd to throw elbows and move to the front of the stage, like their moms have done together too many times to count. It’s moments like this that you really see yourself in your children.

Opening BandS: When we saw that there were two opening bands, Maria and I both had the “Dear god, why, I’m so tired and don’t want to be out too late,” reflex. Turns out with only one album to their name, the Lumineers’ set needed some filling out, so it was fine. First up was country folk trio Sawmill Joe, whose lead singer had a seriously country accent, which was weird considering he was from Maryland by way of Colorado. Lovely moment when the Lumineers came onstage to accompany them on their song, “Ain’t Nobody’s Problem.” What was a problem: Maria not being able to remember Sawmill Joe’s name, and repeatedly calling them Shoeless Joe, like the baseball player.

Next up was Dr. Dog, a rock band from PA that was a HUGE crowd favorite. People around us sang along to every word, more so even than they did for the Lumineers. I would tell you more, but it was during this set that we were texting back and forth with the girls to see if they were ok, and they were complaining about all the pot smoke where they were standing, and I assured them it wasn’t limited to where they were stationed, and that they should just not inhale.

The Crowd: What is it about the Lumineers that it has the best looking fans ever? Everywhere we looked: stunners, male and female. Part of it, of course, is that the Greek draws a big UC Berkeley student crowd so they have the advantage of youth, but even as twenty-somethings go, this was a batch of hot, well-dressed people with good accessories.

Directly in front of us were what I have to assume were two Cal football players: sitting shoulder to shoulder, they had the same dimensions and sturdiness as a queen sized headboard. These two jocks loved the Lumineers, knew every word and shook their booties and did the white-man’s crossed wrist air drumming move. Instead of being annoyed, we were charmed, because every time they got up and blotted out the view with their mega-backs, they’d first swivel and apologize profusely.  It was adorable.

Running Backs

Age Humiliation Factor: Self inflicted.
The seats at the Greek are concrete benches with no back support. Maria’s daughter was taking the train from the ‘burbs to meet us, and this is the series of messages that we exchanged with Maria’s husband after we reminded him to send along those camping cushions with backs.

You have to be preparedCool Factor: Coachella, without the dust.

The Lumineers’ eponymous 2012 album was one of my favorites from last year, so I was psyched to see them play live. Their next show on their concert tour was Coachella, so I got to enjoy a Coachella band without having to wear cutoffs and a floppy macrame sunhat.

Worth Hiring the Sitter? Simply put, yes.

I loved how the show was pared down to the basics: piano, guitars, cello, drums, mandolin. Nothing fancy or electronic, certainly no dancing or fireworks, but the band still managed to fill up the whole amphitheater with song and draw the crowd in. It was also nice to hear the singer encourage the crowd to turn off their phones, and “Just be with us here, now.” Most of the audience complied, but even after he asked a second time, the fear of going screen-less for three minutes meant that some idiots kept filming.

Lead singer Wesley Keith Schultz has a rich and distinctive voice, but when they played a song so new that it’s yet to be named and the lone girl, Neyla Pekarek, carried half the vocals, Maria and I agreed we’d like to hear more of her on their next album.

The takeaway: nice, talented people genuinely thrilled to be doing what they’re doing and giving us all something to enjoy in the bargain. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night.

The Lumineers are on the road through at least August – see if you can’t catch them on a nice spring or summer night near you: dates here.  What’s up with the cuffed pants and the bare feet look for folk rockers these days? Doesn’t anyone but me worry about tetanus? What’s your favorite track off Lumineers’ album? Let me know your thoughts in the comments field – I could talk music with you all day long.


By the way, I have a new gig as a contributor on – it’s a great site to stop by for a quick dash of midday humor. My two latest posts are in their Top 9 Lists category: Top 9 Teenage Laments That Sound Like Country Song Titles, and Top 9 Things I Have Said To My Son and My Dog. Yes, regular readers. you spotted the blooper: I don’t have a son. But I have actually said all those things to the dog.

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  1. says

    I’m one of the rogue non-Lumineers fans in the universe right now, but I have a lot of feelings about the music they’re basing their work on, and, in my opinion, not improving…But I hate to be a hater of something so many people love, and I did enjoy your review.

    I describe my accent as Maryland hick, and depending how long that guy’s been here, the accent doesn’t surprise me. We’re stealth southern (although the Carolinas never claim us, much less anywhere south of that, but hey…below the Mason-Dixon, it’s true.) I’m totally checking out the other two bands. Thanks, Nancy!

    • says

      They’re sort of the Anne Hathaway of indie folk right now; maybe it’s the hats. Anyway I’m happy to be around anyone who seems to believe so much in what they are doing, so they’re ok by me. Good live show.

      Seriously, Laurie, he sounded like he was from Arkansas. I’ve never met anyone from MD who lays it on that thick but I defer to your status. Whenever I finally meet you in person, you’re going to have to do a Stealth Southern accent for me.

  2. says

    I have heard such great things about this band LIVE, my best friend saw them and didn’t stop talking them for weeks.

    I downloaded the album and I really like them, I can only imagine that their songs are even “more” Live.l

    the video you picked, Stubborn Love, I adore that song. it’s one of my favorites.

    Glad you had so much fun (and yay for a rock band from PA)

  3. Jill says

    Loved this review. “Just be with us here, now” is going to become my new parenting motto.

    Glad that enough of your DNA rubbed off through shared drinks or whatever that my daughter also shares your concert-going prowess. Didn’t inherit it from me…oh, yeah, maybe her dad.

    Great text exchange was a bonus – ha!

  4. Katie says

    Loved the entire critique but the IPHONE snap shot just made me fall out of my chair! I hate pictures not b/c I hate memories but I have always felt people are so obsessed with documenting their memory that they never actually experience anything!

    • says

      I try to let it go because it seems so embedded in the culture now. But it really is a shame to look out at this beautiful half-crescent of people, at twilight, with wonderful music playing in the background, and there are tiny glowing squares of light everywhere you look. My motto is: two pictures, fast, right at the beginning of the show. Then stash the phone for the rest of the night.

  5. says

    I like them better than Mumford & Sons. Their record’s outstanding. I hear they’re better live. Great review. I figured their audience would be better looking and more upwardly mobile than Japandroids or the show I saw last month – The Gaslight Anthem.

    I just posted my fiction meme, 100 word song. Total coincidence, it’s Ho Hey, Maybe you can find some inspiration and write.

    good post

  6. says

    I got a little verklempt myself when reading about your teens heading into the crowd. Such a rite of passage. Y’all are such cool moms.

    Happy Birthday season, Nancy! (I have had The Perfect Card for you for months and mailed it today.)


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