Last month, while scouring one of my favorite websites The Cool Hunter, I came across the song “Hey Ho” by The Lumineers. Upon hitting the play button on the video it took no more than 30seconds before I was on Google, less than 10minutes to discover they were playing at Fairfield Theatre Company and less than 15min to book 2 tickets to the show! All this while sitting cozy in my mother’s place in Melbourne, Australia.
I didn’t do much listening after that, just trusted my instinct that I would like the show and knew that a bar was close by if I didn’t.
I took along my music loving friend Cat (who also happens to be the owner/creator of the incredible skin care company Farm Couture seriously check out her Face Whip – ‘spanx for your face’ someone called it!) She hadn’t heard of The Lumineers until I put them on my last playlist a week or so ago. So we were going in with ‘Beginners Mind’. A good space to listen from actually.
I hadn’t heard of the opening act at all, Kopecky Family Band, and had little time to do any pre-show googling (didn’t actually even get the time to find out their names). I’d like to say that I prepare myself for most shows, but I’d only be lying.
The FTC is a fantastic venue to see live acts, even those you’ve never heard of – especially those you’ve never heard of actually – because you’re up close and personal with the music. Everywhere you sit is a prime seat. It’s intimate, it has great acoustics and you really get the feeling you’re just hanging out in a living room getting a taste of something special. Last Thursday, for Cat and I, that something special was the The Kopecky Family Band and The Lumineers.
Wow! Let’s start with that.
Standing on stage, kicking off the night, were a collection of 6 (5 guys, one girl) fresh-faced, enthusiastic, 20-something hipsters. I have to say, I immediately thought “Oh here we go, a gaggle of Brooklynites who picked up a few chords on an instrument and now they’ve formed a band. Because it’s hip”. Once again, my grandmother was right: Never judge a book by its cover.
The Kopecky Family Band didn’t just pick up a few chords from an instrument; they had an orchestra on stage. A cello, bass guitar, electric guitar, lead guitar, xylophone, keyboard, tambourine, trombone, drums, accordion and chains! It was like a musical cirque du soleil performance, with each member of the band, besides the drummer, playing more than one instrument during the set (Kelsey, the singer, played keyboard, tambourine, guitar, xylophone, accordion and the drum with sticks and the chains!) Oh! And they’re from Nashville, not Brooklyn. My bad – once again!
From the first song Cat and I looked at each other like two little kids in a candy store. Two excited kids who just discovered candy that was fun, fresh, toe-tapping, ethereal, melodic, layered, modern, enthusiastic and original.
Kelsey and Gabe (it’s a boy/girl vocal collaboration here), the two lead vocalists have great chemistry. Kelsey has an ethereal beauty to her and she simply lights up on stage. Her face and whole presence is open and excited. She is a treat to watch and beauty to listen to and combined with Gabe’s more earthier presence, and charismatic charm they make a great front to this band. All the members of the band are so into what they are doing (if they weren’t singing into a mike, they were mouthing their songs) and each had an individual quality to them which made this band feel just like a close-knit family.
During the set, near the end, Kelsey announced that they have sponsored a child from Ecuador and asked the audience for just a quarter to help. I liked that. A band, not just using their talents to earn a living, but to help someone else in a way that they can – and they’re not waiting to get famous to start!
Check em out!
There are some bands who saunter on to the stage, others who bound and some who simply arrive and place themselves right where they are supposed to be. The Lumineers are one of those bands who arrive and you just know you’re in the presence of a collective of musicians who are standing exactly where they are supposed to be.
At the core of The Lumineers are Wesley Shultz (lead singer), Jeremiah Fraites (percussion and backup singer) Neyla Pekarek (Cello). On stage however they added a keyboardist, bass guitarist and a close friend who did a great job on the bass drum, despite looking a little tentative about being there (I would be too considering the tightness of this band). To me however, the fact they bought their friend on stage told me everything about the values that sit as the foundation of The Lumineers; family and connectedness.
Right out of the gate, this band brought the audience close and by the end of the set had us standing and singing and clapping and smiling. Their music makes you feel good. It is at once hopeful and nostalgic, thoughtful and jovial. It is modern roots music that has you stomping your feet but stops you just short of wanting to ‘grab your partner by the arm’ and swing ‘em round and round and instead you want to just give your partner a big hug and say “F*#k life is good”.
In the audience were there families, who had driven from New Jersey. We were sitting next to Shultz mother who, clearly in a state of uncontrollable pride, leaned over and said “That’s my son”.
“Congratulations, and thank you. They’re great” was all Cat and I could say.
They ended the set with a great rendition of “The weight” ~ a fitting and beautiful tribute to Levon Helm who had passed of cancer earlier that day.
The Lumineers; here you go.
Both bands were gracious and generous enough to hang with the crowd afterwards, even selling their own merch. Kelsey and Gabe, in particular, were engaging and we talked yoga and all things good and inspiring and health and wellness, which is, apparently, very important to this band!