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Review Mon Sep 24 2012
The Logan Square Auditorium is not an audacious, fancy space; while walking up the long (and, slightly precarious) line of stairs before me with masses of other attendees, I was reminded of a house party, a secret pop-up show that was more intimate, less available to the outside world. The venue has a historic look and feel - the high, vaulted ceilings with decorative moldings and a more cramped floor space made me ponder what other shows and events had taken place where I had stood years before. These accumulated characteristics actually made this venue the perfect place to see The Lumineers this Friday evening for a personal, heartwarming show.
Openers The Comettes presented an interesting formula; a lead singer with an hybrid sound, resembling the blend between Maps & Atlases and Young The Giant, backed by futuristic synth-rock sounds. Upon my arrival, the crowd's attention was not fully present. Shuffling around the venue grabbing beverages and waiting excitedly for the Lumineers made watching The Comettes with their full attention a secondary priority. However, as time moved forward, The Comettes began to hook the audience. The crowd really began to warm up to them when they took a folk style approach to their set. They do not have any released album material as of yet, but their album is planned for December. Playing "Whiskey In The Dark," a folk ditty they used to play with The Lumineers, the group's talent potential shone through. They may still need to develop their live presence a bit, but they are well on their way to becoming a strong act all their own.
Pre-Lumineers set, the Logan Square Auditorium was packed to the brim. Now, I'm a major proponent of the folk revival style that's been growing in popularity lately. From Mumford & Sons, to Fleet Foxes, to Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, to Of Monsters and Men, there are many groups whose descriptions are succumbing to this phenomenon. Does the formula ever really change? If they are all comprised of folk-singing songwriters with various stringed instruments, how can this sound be different?
The Lumineers, like many other folk revival groups, bring an added dynamic that skews the standard formula a bit. The Lumineers place vast importance on their live performances rather than their recorded material, and the live setting is where they truly shine. Formed in Denver, Colorado, and frequently playing small open mic nights at the Meadowlark, a local spot, the Lumineers garnered a reputation for a hollering, stomping live show, its caliber hinging upon the fact that the venue was intimate and the sound was bold.
The Lumineers utilized their set for the purpose of trying to bring their lively style from the Meadowlark to Chicago, and tried to allow the 700 individuals the venue holds feel like they are packed in a tiny bar, in tune with the music and present for an energetic experience. They opened with "Submarines," a pulsing folk ballad, in which lead singer Wesley Schultz's voice sounded crisper and stronger than on the group's self-titled recording released this year. During the set, the group stuck to many of the songs present on this album. They introduced a more participative audience style during "Big Parade," which transformed into a call and response number.
This segued into my favorite part of the set. The group began playing the opening chords of fan favorite "Ho Hey," and then announced they would be stepping into the center of the crowd. Hovering above us, they urged us to put away our cell phones and cameras, and just savor the moment. After the opening chords, I could barely hear The Lumineers singing the tune, as hundreds of voices had joined in for every word. They returned to the stage, playing the ballad again for the crowd, louder and laden with a heartfelt spirit, much to our delight.
They sprinkled in few tunes from outside of their own musical catalog, which included a moody, dark version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Debuting a new song, "Eloise," for their upcoming fall release, there was not a frowning face to be seen in the crowd. The set was short, but sweet, as the band covered their entire discography during the hour and fifteen minute long set. They ended the show by bringing the Comettes on stage, bringing us back to another decade as they played an excellent cover of "The Weight," by The Band. Judging by the chorus of voices that hinged upon every note and each lyric that The Lumineers sang, I know the group will only gain more popularity as time goes forth with impending releases. The folk revival style might be all around us nowadays, but The Lumineers' live performances distinguish them, as they deliberately attempt to transform the spaces they play into a personal listening experience, all the while merging sounds of the past and present together.