Live Review: The Lumineers with Good Nights, States at Rams Head Live, Baltimore, MD – 1st July 2012

By on Thursday, 12th July 2012 at 2:00 pm

The current roots rock revival that is sweeping music these days has made way for Denver, Colorado band the Lumineers to sell out venue after venue in America as they make a name for themselves with their brand of foot stomping joy.

Starting this night was Good Night, States, a four-piece hailing from Pittsburgh who happen to be good friends of the Lumineers. I see a lot of support acts that cause me to look hard to find something I like. This band, however, delighted me from the start. Calling themselves “analogue rock/synth folk”, I was expecting some interesting sounds. While the album exploits the use of their vintage analog synthesizers a bit more, the live show still managed to highlight that specialty. Keyboard player Megan Lindsey even showed off a bit of theremin-like hand waving over her keyboard. Good Night, States captivated the crowd with four part harmonies, rousing good music and smart, complex lyrics. After all where would you find the words “palliative” and “gerrymandering” in the same song? The crowd even got a bit of an early thrill as two of the members of the Lumineers joined them in stage for their final song. The band is rounded out by Steve Gretz (guitar/vocals), Trevor Baker (bass/vocals) and Dan Harding (drums).

From the first chanting response from the revel makers, the Lumineers proved that they were worthy of their “biggest sold out show EVER” in Baltimore, Maryland. What was started by the opener ‘Submarines’ really kicked into high gear with ‘Classy Girls’, a tribute to all the girls who don’t “put out the good china” on the first date. And if that wasn’t enough, the current single ‘Ho Hey’ split the ‘hollering’ part between the floor and the balcony with the “heys” and the “hos” continuing strongly throughout the entire song. The touching ‘Charlie Boy’ showed the strength of the three main members by bringing them alone to the front of the stage with just an acoustic guitar, cello, and mandolin. It still surprises me how much soaring, beautiful sound can come from just three simple instruments. The encore brought the band back for an off-mic song at the apron of the stage that found Stelth Ulvang playing accordion way up in the balcony. Often, this song ‘Darlene’ finds the band on the floor of the venue, but this was the biggest place they’d sold out as of yet, so the balcony it was.

The spate of folk/Americana rolling through the airwaves has seen many a band step up to the call and try to take the mantle from Mumford and Sons. Some bands have produced masterful albums, such as Of Monsters and Men, but have a gentle performance style. Others have albums that may present their genius in a quieter way, but their live shows are explosive and transformative. The Lumineers are definitely selling us their soul through their live shows. The three main members of the Lumineers, Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Peckarek, were joined on stage by Ben Wahoviaki and Ulvang to fill out their live sound.

But what sets them apart is that in addition to their infectious sound, the band brings their members front and center. Fraites is not hidden behind his drum kit all night, no, there was another kick drum right out front at which Fraites often stood, drum kicking and foot stomping and singing away. With Peckarek on cello and Fraites and Ulvang sharing mandolin duty, the Lumineers swarmed the stage and took us on a great journey. I do have a soft spot for fun drummers, and Fraites surely met all the qualification. Not content to sit at his drum kit, he switched between standing, wandering, playing the drum up front, and yes, plain sitting down drumming. He even pulled out a small blue glockenspiel near the end of the set. Yup, that’s a fun drummer.

Chatting with members of both bands afterwards, they just about fell over themselves to make sure I said something wonderful about the other band. So, not only were they delightful musicians they were nice people to boot. What a joy! After they finish up a summer’s worth of support tours the Lumineers hit the UK and Ireland playing with The Civil Wars in late October/early November. Having now seen both them and The Civil Wars, I can tell you, you won’t want to miss that!

After the cut: the Lumineers’ set list.

The Lumineers Set List:
I Ain’t Nobody’s Problem But My Own
Classy Girls
Flowers in Your Hair
Ho Hey
Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan cover)
Charlie Boy
Slow It Down
Dead Sea
Morning Song
Big Parade
Stubborn Love
Flapper Girls

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