With Soak. and Sleepwalkers
The Bomb Factory, Dallas
Sunday, May 22, 2016
The Lumineers serenaded The Bomb Factory Sunday night in what has to be near the top of the list for date-night concert of the year. Lead singer Wesley Schultz and the gang led an accessible, folksy singalong while Stelth Ulvang's piano harkened back to some bygone old-timey saloon and Neyla Pekarek's cello added gravitas and somber wisdom throughout.
After attending a few folk shows, one comes to learn that the Lumineers' accessibility and the accessibility of the genre in general is a substantial part of its massive appeal. Hear these songs twice and 60 percent of the lyrics are implanted in your short-term memory banks. It's perfect for holding a loved one and swaying for an hour and a half.
Schultz' voice is humble and unassuming, with a slight rasp that brings out its earnestness. Gellow songwriter Jeremiah Fraites, in trademark T-shirt and suspenders, keeps up on the drums, switching between his traditional set and the more utilitarian stand-up bass setup throughout.
The Lumineers are at their best, and so is their crowd, when the guitar/mandolin/cello combination and the vocals crash over a song's steadily building crescendo, as on "Charlie Boy" midway through their Bomb Factory set. Both the mandolin and Pekarek's cello got their time in the sun to start the track before it built and built and the whole room was taken by overhead claps and floor stomps.
Schultz dispensed with the folk anthem "Ho Hey" early on, bargaining with the audience by encouraging them to take video of the band's 2012 iconic folk hit if they would put away the "dumbphones" and remain psychologically present for the rest of the show. It was a fair trade, as the sellout crowd of over 4,000 lit up the darkness for the song about "tryin' to do it right" before largely complying with Schultz' suggested no-photography policy the rest of the way.
The crowd, as you'd imagine for a show based so heavily on mandolin musings, cooperated the whole way through. Schultz saluted Dallas for its thorough knowledge of the band's catalogue before acknowledging the city's special place in the band's history in his introduction to "Slow It Down."
"Dallas is the first place we ever sold 1,000 tickets for a show," Schultz said. "And tonight it's a few times more than that, so thank you. It'll always be a special place for us."
And there the Lumineers' accessibility shone through again. It's hard to get the "la la la la la" part wrong on "Gun Song," helping even the most uninitiated to feel at home in the band's presence. But they literally took that accessibility into the crowd during the three songs previous, when the band turned the venue inward by overtaking a cramped portion of the audio engineers' booth for a three-song stint including "Ain't Nobody's Problem," "Where the Skies Are Blue" and "Classy Girls."
The group worked its way efficiently through its setlist and was even prompt in leaving stage and coming back for its encore. The last piano note in "My Eyes" had barely faded before Schultz & Co. were back on stage with a bouncing version of "Submarines." The night ended with "Stubborn Love," the song the true Lumineers fan came to sing along to.
"Stubborn Love's" classic message to keep one's head up sealed the night with a kiss, but was preceded by another clear fan favorite in the feel-good number "Flapper Girl." It's a lithe little piano-driven tune that could have gotten lost in the middle of the se,t but instead left a lasting impression on fans as they filed out of The Bomb Factory with a skip in their step on this Sunday night.
Sleep on the Floor
Flowers in Your Hair
Ain't Nobody's Problem
Where the Skies are Blue
Slow it Down
In the Light