Lumineers Fitzgerald's May 30, 2012
Denver-based Lumineers packed Fitzgerald's to the rafters Wednesday night, turning the upstairs stage into a 90-degree cauldron of sweat. I still don't understand why, although I think I understand why the band is named after smile-enhancing denture products.
One of the longest lines I've ever seen at Fitzgerald's -- and that includes shows for Stevie Ray Vaughan and Joe Ely -- stretched down the street halfway to Onion Creek. In fact, it was the longest line of freshly scrubbed twentysomethings I'd maybe ever seen outside Disney World. Women seemed to outnumber men, and it was one of the most homogeneous crowds I've encountered anywhere in the nation's most diverse city.
When I finally got in the building, it was near 10 p.m. and angst-y opener Gregory Alan Isakov was being thoroughly ignored by a talkative crowd. I thought maybe it was the cello -- but wait, the Lumineers have a cello.
The Lumineers were greeted with a roar of adoration. They had padded out their core threesome -- Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites and Neyla Pekarek -- with a bassist and keys.
It was instantly apparent that the crowd could be divided into two camps: Those who knew every word to every song (except the covers, more on that later) and a tiny, tiny minority who didn't. Yes, this was singalong night. It was as precious as a litter of kittens on catnip.
I tried the upstairs in hopes of getting a bit of a/c, but found myself standing so far back I couldn't even see the stage. A young lady saw my notebook and asked if I was a "critic." So I asked her what all the buzz was about: "Why are all these people here?"
"Because they're just adorable," she said. "They're so sweet and so cute. You have to give them a great review."
"But they've just started playing."
"Don't worry, it's going to be great. I promise, you will love them."
By the time they slid into their hit "Ho Hey," I was fully prepared for Bic lighters waving. I asked two more ladies standing nearby what it was about Lumineers that brought them to the show on a Wednesday night.
"They're just so chill. And lovable."
It was really fun to watch the crowd as Schultz broke into a manic but rather unemotional and muddled reading of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," during which the babble level went sky-high.
I wondered if this crowd was ready for "Johnny's in the basement mixin' up the medicine, I'm on the pavement thinkin' about the government," and, judging by their lack of attention, reckoned Schultz may as well have been singing to himself.
Scanning the crowd, I doubted 20 people actually knew it was a Dylan cover. For once, no one was singing along, although some polo shirt in the middle of the crowd decided it was the perfect song to pogo to. Ah, the high life.
A guy next to me made eye contact.
"Do you like this band?" I asked.
"Not really, but my girlfriend does."
"What do they remind you of?"
"David Gray meets the Avett Brothers maybe. I guess to some that'll be cool, for others maybe not so much."
I stood by the fellow and his girlfriend awhile. At one point I heard him say to her, "Are they really singing "luh, luh, luh, luh, luh, luh?"
She gave him The Look.
Chugging through what I assume is their entire catalog of songs in 45 minutes, Schultz informed the crowd that the band only had one more number, and it was the crowd's choice whether it would be a song by The Band or Talking Heads. Why was I not surprised when the crowd yelled louder for the Heads than The Band? I strongly suspect that a majority of the audience had no clue who The Band was.
And with that, they were gone. I had the distinct impression they'd played every note of every song they know. Welcome to the world of indie-rock.
In sore need of electricity, I hustled downstairs to catch the end of Unknown Hinson's set and ran into Will van Horn from Robert Ellis's band.
On the way out, I bumped into the same ladies I'd waited in line with. Three were giddy, but I asked one woman who had informed me earlier that she didn't really know the band but just came because her girlfriends told her it would be cool, "What did you think?"
"Oh, I guess they were okay. Popularity beyond merits. It happens a lot, you know."
Personal Bias: Hello, Fitzgerald's. Does someone need to die of heat stroke before you add some air-conditioning? What is this, Summer Fest? It was pretty unbearable.
The Crowd: Polite. Well-groomed. Perfect teeth.
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Heard in the Crowd: "They're like Willie Nelson meets the Avett Brothers." (No, really.)
Notebook Dump: Possible headline: Gen Y Reaches New Rhythmic Low