Gig Review – The Lumineers – Channel [V] Online

Originally posted at Channel [V]

The internet’s a pretty cool thing you guys. I mean it’s fairly difficult to argue the contrary especially seeing as right now you’re reading this on a laptop/phone/TV/fridge connected to every other laptop/phone/TV/fridge in the entire world so how about you don’t even try okay? The internet is great for a lot of reasons and if you were one of the hundreds of adoring fans at The Enmore on Thursday night you can go ahead and chalk up another win to the internet for being responsible for pretty much forming the band you gave up your hard earned cash to see.

The Lumineers’ formation story is an exceptionally modern fairytale. Two skinny dudes living in Brooklyn, devo after multiple fails in the music industry, head out west, find a cool indie-chick to play cello via Craigslist and score a record contract after being spotted on YouTube. So yeah it’s pretty much a plot taken directly from the mind of Lena Dunham. In the country for Bluesfest, the trio (plus two more skinny dudes to fill out their live sound), played their first ever Australian gig to a sold-out Sydney crowd. Interestingly the gig fell almost exactly a year to the day since their Grammy nominated debut album was released which just goes to further illustrate their remarkable rise to success.

If you are unaware of who The Lumineers are and what they sound like let me help you out. Two of the band members wear fedoras. That’s right, TWO. That’s 200% more fedora than your average band. Following the current trend of folk-rock renaissance helmed by recent chart-toppers Mumford and Sons and Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers give their own Americana-tinged vibes to this increasingly popular genre, upping the rootsy, rustic elements and throwing in a shit-ton of foot-stamping. It’s nothing revolutionary but the simplicity carries with it some beautifully haunting melodies and lyrical storytelling. It also makes for some easy-access sing-alongs. Even if you don’t know a single lyric there’s more than enough whoas, heys and hos to pretend like you know what’s going on.

On stage the band comes across as charming, affable and dead-set appear to be enjoying themselves. Their musical talent across a number of instruments is certainly undeniable, with most band members rotating between a multitude of apparatuses including cello, drums, accordion, mandolin and a mother-fucking glockenspiel (Spiel 4 LYF yo!). Wittily overcoming a technical issue early on, lead singer Wesley Schultz ensured mass panty-wetting amongst the present lady-folk with his laidback charisma and humour only rivalled by his affecting singing voice. He crooned with such passion that his fedora flew off his prudently mussy-haired head several times. Joined by the crazy-good vocals of Neyla Pekarek and percussion of fellow fedora-ite Jeremiah Fraites, the perfectly balanced set explored the entirety of the debut album plus new song ‘Falling’, which maximized the girl-boy back-and-forth, in a manner very reminiscent of our own San Cisco (well… if San Cisco had grown up in a Wes Anderson film).

The Lumineers seem very intent on maintaining their super indie image and hipster-folk cred. The fedoras, braces and thrift-shop threads aside, the belligerently humble band members went to great lengths to continually convince us of their authenticity. Prior to one song Wesley announced his wish for everyone to put down their “cell phones” and simply be there in the moment and witness the magic of The Lumineers purely with their God-given eyes and ears, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with yet one that not only proved fairly futile (those grandkids aren’t gonna bore themselves come 2060) and came across as slightly pretentious. Later the band again attempted to break down the traditional gig barriers by asking everyone to stay completely quiet so they could do a song entirely acoustically without any electronic equipment, probably because microphones are so fucking 2011 and are merely phallic representations of a patriarchal society intent on crushing artistic integrity or some bullshit. Again I understand the gesture but the only thing it really achieved was allowing us to hear the majestic roar of a Harley Davidson as it hooned down Enmore Rd and reverberated around the theatre.

Returning for the encore, The Lumineers slowed things down with ‘Morning Song’, which proved particularly beautiful and inspiring to the couple in front of me who, spurred by the crooning vocals and sensual guitar timbres, initiated such a vicious make-out sesh it made me wish I had brought a rain poncho. Seriously it was like front row at Sea World. Finishing with a particularly impressive rendition of Violent Femmes’ ‘American Music’, the band members lingered to soak up the thunderous applause and make super-cute airplanes out of the set-lists (aren’t these guys fedorable?).

The Lumineers are a truly talented group whose inoffensive brand of new-folk, whilst ironically not being anything new, is exquisitely delivered on stage with passionate gusto and just the right amount of whimsy, proving why they have captured the hearts of both the indie and commercial music world. Sure the hipster vibe may be a bit off-putting to some but their music is honest, beguiling and thoroughly gratifying and ultimately isn’t that what it’s all about? Now who knows where to purchase a killer fedora?

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