Music critics greeted The Lumineer’s self-titled debut album with adjectives like “gritty,” “rustic,” and “nostalgic,” so it seems fitting that lead-singer Wesley Schultz’s used the word “primal” to describe their live shows: The songs, minimal as they already are, are trimmed of studio fat when performed live.
“I think one of the things that we try to do live is to let it all hang out…” Wesley told The Observer’s Kitty Empire. “We don’t try to be perfect at all.”
That “primal” quality, along with Bing-commercial-popularized “Hey, Ho,” will make their Sacramento debut Oct. 9th and 10th in Midtown’s Harlow’s when the Lumineers stake their claim as the next banjo pop/folk rock/acoustic folk standard-bearer, much like The Avett Brothers, Fleet Foxes, and Mumford & Sons did before them.
Sure, a band responsible for the No. 1 rock and alternative single–featured on a popular advertisement no less–and the No. 11 album on theBillboards back in April may seem manufactured to capitalize on a burgeoning genre’s popularity. The Lumineers’ backstory however, involving the band’s formation after lead-singer Schultz’s best friend and drummer Jeremiah Fraites’ brother’s drug overdose, lends more weight to the poignant lyrics and dispels the notion that they’re some commercial gimmick.
"It influences what we talk and write about," Schultz told the USA Today in June. "There’s a certain level of growing up overnight that happens. As a band, it adds something that’s very elusive — it’s hopefulness, but there’s also some sorrow behind it, and there’s some depth that defines who you are."
To attribute the loss of a loved one to their success does The Lumineers an injustice since the band’s prominence stems less from provocative backstory and more from the chops and word of mouth gained from seven years’ worth of prolific touring and near weekly shows, including a stint in New York trying to break through the competitive music scene.
“We tried to play once a week, and keep just learning from our mistakes,” Schulz told gigwise.com. “There was one time where we played two or three times in one week, and it was just way too much.”
That experience allows for a more organic, off-the-cuff style in live shows that goes well with the loose, roaming sensibilities of their genre. Case in point: At a show in London this September the band members all sang from the middle of the crowd, accompanied only by acoustic guitar, tambourine and glockenspiel while for “Ho, Hey” drummer Jeremiah Fraites divided the crowd between "ho" and "hey."
Expect plenty of yelps and foot-stomps, and maybe a Springsteen, Dylan, or Talking Heads cover or two, in Sacramento this coming week.
The Lumineers will play at Harlow’s, 2708 J St, on Oct. 10 at 8 p/m. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.