It was with a certain amount of trepidation that I approached last Friday’s sold-out show at the Lobero. The current darlings of this new-age, stomp-your-feet-and-shout-along, halfway-hipster folk-rock music movement, The Lumineers, were coming to town, and, well, I was worried how the adoring masses were going to be able to get their hootenanny on in a seated venue. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about; the band delivered the goods as advertised with an often soaring set of emotive and string-heavy folk. And the crowd was on their feet and in the aisles every step of the way, dancing and clapping and singing along, no matter the awkwardness of chairs and cushions clanging at their knees.
Playing virtually every song off their self-titled album and a few unnamed ones that are slated for release later this year, The Lumineers showed a depth and breadth of musicianship (hello xylophone solo from the middle of the audience courtesy of Jeremiah Fraites) that goes well beyond their catchy hit single “Ho Hey.” Even the not-so-original covers, like their take on Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and The Band’s “The Weight,” had a heightened air of poignancy. In particular, “The Weight” provided a raucous crescendo to the show, featuring all the members of opening act Bad Weather California, as well as a guy plucked from the front row to sing the opening verse. Certainly, given the current glut of bands that, at least at first blush, seem to sound similar to The Lumineers, it would be easy to dismiss them as some sort of trend-riding success story. But such judgment would be an obvious error; these people are serious musicians, dripping with talent that is really only hinted at on their first album, and, above all else, they have a ton of fun making the magic happen with an audience in front of them.