Sometimes the best decisions are super last minute decisions. After missing out on their fall tour in Boston last year, I was kind of upset with myself. I had heard that it was a great show, so when they came back around to the CT area as part of the Cleopatra World Tour, I was torn between catching a great show and driving about an hour away to Mohegan Sun on a Thursday night. Got home from work, checked StubHub, and decided to buy my ticket with about 45 minutes before show start time. Made it just in time!
This was another first for me - going to see a show at Mohegan Sun. One of two major casinos in CT (the other being Foxwoods), it usually brings in the typical big arena touring artists - read: Ed Sheeran, Biebs, Lady Gaga, etc. It is a 10,000 seat arena, after all. Surprisingly, my seat had a good view of the stage, despite being about a mile away. But at least I wasn't blocked by anything, and the stadium seating was a nice change of pace. I have also seen The Lumineers before, way back when, at Lollapalooza 2013 - and I remembered that they do this move where they come out into the middle of the audience to play a few songs - so I had a tingling feeling that they might venture closer to my seat at some point in the night.
After settling in with a Goose IPA in hand, I got to see Kaleo open the night. This band is an interesting one. Hailing from Austin by way of Iceland, this quartet is a blues/rock band - who would've guessed that! You might not recognize their name, but I can guarantee that you've heard their big single, "Way Down We Go". It has been in a ton of commercials, TV shows, and movie trailers. Lead singer Jökull Júlíusson has a deep voice, very similar to Hosier, and has an impressive range - just take a listen to his Bon-Iver-esque falsetto on "All The Pretty Girls". Kaleo's set-list included "I Can't Go On Without You", "All The Pretty Girls", "Broken Bones", "No Good", "Way Down We Go", and "Rock 'n' Roller". If you like blues-influenced rock bands like The Black Keys, The White Stripes, or even that band Jet, you'd probably like Kaleo. Sadly, the acoustics in the arena aren't great - or else I'm just too used to smaller shows with a speaker and an amp right in your face - but it sounded like Kaleo's speakers weren't properly balanced. But they still played a solid set - I definitely recommend checking them out!
The Lumineers are a folk rock/Americana band from Denver made up of(founding members) Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums), along with Neyla Pekarek (cello). They add on two additional touring musicians - Stelth Ulvang (piano, accordion) and Byron Isaacs (bass, guitar). Wesley and Jeremiah have been writing and playing together for 11 years You have definitely heard their big hit, "Ho Hey", from their self-titled debut album . Surprisingly, they just released their second studio album, Cleopatra , after a four year wait. I really like this album - you can tell that a lot of care and precision went into creating an album with songs that are unique and distinguishable from each other, yet are still similar enough to work together as one whole piece. I also give this band a ton of credit for 1. playing instruments 2. writing their own music and 3. creating beautiful harmonies. Cleopatra captures the bend's essence and signature sound that we all fell in love with, yet also shows growth from their first album. The guitar lines mix perfectly with the piano melodies, making you want to pick up a guitar or sit down at a piano and teach yourself how to play. It is actually refreshing to hear a real piano throughout this whole album.
This show did not disappoint! Set-list included "Submarines", "Flowers In Your Hair", "Ho Hey", "Cleopatra", "Gun Song", and "Dead Sea". Then three of them moved onto the middle stage (yay!) and performed "Classy Girls", "Where The Skies Are Blue" and "Charlie Boy", and then just two of them, Wesley and Jeremiah, on tambourine and vocals, sang "Slow It Down". Their performance on the stage in the middle was awesome because the full stage was just so darn far away for probably half of the audience.
They continued to play "Sleep On The Floor", "Angela", "Ophelia", and "Big Parade" - an upbeat acoustic song with just vocals and keys, And then there was confetti! Which always makes everything better. As a tribute to some of their influences, The Lumineers covered a few Tom Petty songs - "Walls" and "My Eyes", I believe. Their encore included a solo performance by Wesley of "Patience" and "Long Way From Home", who shared a touching story about his father who passed away from cancer, and how his grandmother passed away from the same type of cancer. His upper register is so perfectly raspy that you can't help but get the feels. [Fun fact: the song is written in 5/4 time signature, which is the same as the Mission Impossible theme song. Very tricky to play in and write.] The band also played "Subterranean Homesick Blues", a cover of the Bob Dylan song. They ended the night with "Stubborn Love", which is a great sing-a-long anthem - the audience was extremely into it and everyone sang the chorus at the top of their lungs!
Definitely was a night full of great musicianship, meaningful songs, and incredible vocals. The band was conversational but not over the top, engaging but still humble. The Lumineers are a very special band who stay true to themselves as musicians, and continue to write songs that make people feel both heart-wrenching pain and over-the-top happiness. This show turned into one of my favorite last minute decisions! Hoorah!
Think: Hosier, The Black Keys, White Stripes, Royal Blood
Think: The Avett Brothers, Shovels and Rope, Mumford & Sons