LiveDC: The Lumineers @ DAR Constitution Hall
BYT at large | Feb 4, 2013 | 10:30AM |

All words: Kerri Pinchuk — All photos: Ryan Kelly

At the risk of committing social (media) suicide, I’ll start by saying that I truly was not expecting greatness when I showed up at DAR on Wednesday for The Lumineers. Maybe it was because a freak monsoon mangled my favorite umbrella on the way there, or because I have a strong aversion to assigned seating stemming from my permanent spot next to the kid who drooled on his homework in grade school. Whatever the reason, I arrived in less-than-soaring spirits and kind of hoped that maybe I could sneak out halfway through.

I know what you’re thinking: “What kind of monster doesn’t love The Lumineers? They wear suspenders! Ho Hey!” Calm down. It’s not that I dislike their music. I even once requested “Ho Hey” at my Total Request Ride spin class. It’s just that I never found anything so unique or distinctive about the group that made them special. Sure they’re hip and trendy, but that was almost the problem. They seemed like your run-of-the-mill Urban Outfitters house band.

The Lumineers

But let it be known: whatever mediocre expectations I had were completely irrelevant from the moment The Lumineers opened with “Submarines.” Scratch that. From the moment they dimmed the lights and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” came over the sound system. For if there’s anything that gets me in the mood for folk music, it’s the mysterious and mystical sounds of HRH Stevie Nicks.

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As one might expect, the sold-out house erupted into cheers at the first notes of “Submarines.” I’d heard great things about DAR’s acoustics, but I still could not believe how near-perfect the band sounded. Lead singer Wesley Schultz’s voice was as crisp and clean as it sounds on the album, and every single instrument—So. Many. Instruments.—was on point (the barefoot, ragamuffin pianist just got a new piano, Wesley said, so could everyone please bear with him while he gets used to it? ). After the opener, they launched into a stretch of pretty songs I’d never heard but that had loyal fans singing along to every word. I nearly forgot that I was assigned to a seat.

After “Flowers in Your Hair,” Wesley announced that they were going to do something a little bit different. He politely did the unthinkable, and asked everyone to please put away their cell phones. “Be here in the present,” he pleaded, and the audience erupted. Even the girlies in front of me stopped taking selfies at this point, which was a pretty huge moment for our whole section. Silent high-fives all around. Then the entire band picked up their instruments, and walked in a line (pianist, still barefoot, now with accordion) off the stage. They skipped up the stairs, security in tow, and across the balcony to the very back of the auditorium above the soundboard. There they stood, inches away from a few lucky audience members, and proceeded to divvy up the crowd into two sides: Ho and Hey. It was the moment that everyone had been waiting for, and though it seemed a little early on in the night, it was like an intimate, acoustic miracle.

The Lumineers

After heading back to the stage, Wes channeled the Father of Folk himself with a quick cover of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” and then moved into “Slow It Down.” By the time Neyla joined him on stage for their lovely duet with no name, the entire theater had fallen in love. They rounded out the set with crowd- pleaser “Dead Sea,” and an explosive “Stubborn Love,” for which openers Y La Bamba joined the party.

The most compelling part of the entire show? Watching the band acted and interacted on stage was amazing. They playfully jumped around, literally climbing on top of chairs and scaling the upright piano, barely ever able to keep their feet on the ground out of excitement. The boys charmed with their scruff and suspenders; Neyla won hearts with her incredible voice and sweet demeanor. They constantly talked, smiled and laughed with one another like the five best friends that anyone could have. Fine, I’ll admit it: I was jealous.

In case anyone hadn’t been thoroughly smitten by the FIRST “Ho Hey,” they launched into another rendition of the hit, cell phones allowed this time. PHEW. They rounded out the triple encore with “Big Parade” and Talking Heads cover “This Must Be The Place,” before folding copies of the setlist into paper planes and sending them soaring into the reaching hands of fans. Of course they did.

Needless to say, by the time I Uber-ed home, I was in high spirits, broken umbrella nearly forgotten. I grabbed my computer and quickly emailed a couple of YouTube links to my dad, who unintentionally cultivated my own obsession with music: “Just saw this band. They covered Dylan. You will LOVE.”

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