At the Vogue Theatre on Monday, December 3
Jeremiah Fraites of the Lumineers was once famously quoted as saying, “We are not reinventing the wheel or doing anything different, the songs are super simple.” After seeing Fraites and his bandmates Wesley Schultz, Neyla Pekarek, Stelth Ulvang, and Ben Wahamaki perform at the Vogue Theatre on Monday night, it’s obvious that he’s right. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. We still need wheels. We like wheels.
After opening act Y La Bamba finished up its set to a pleased and bubbling crowd, the Lumineers walked on-stage as “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac played through the house speakers (weirdly fitting, as Stevie Nicks had announced that band’s reunion tour earlier that day). The Lumineers look like folk artists. Dressed in good-old-country-boy outfits complete with suspenders, flood pants, and bowler hats, Fraites and Schultz looked almost cartoonish. Pekarek (the only female member, on cello and vocals) had a huge smile stretched across her face as the crowd cheered. Pianist Ulvang joyfully kicked off his shoes during the first song and played the rest of the set barefoot, k.d. lang–style.
Beginning with “Submarines”, the music was simple, explosive, and almost annoyingly infectious. Every member of the Lumineers seemed so happy—like, ridiculously happy. Over the course of their folk-pop hits “Big Parade”, “Classy Girls”, and “Flowers in Your Hair”, each member of the Lumineers switched instruments, showcasing their versatility. Sure, the parts were simple, but the crowd loved it. Happiness flooded the room as people hugged, swayed, and hung off each other. The cynical side of my brain was convinced that everyone but me was high on the best MDMA known to mankind—the kind of MDMA made with unicorn tears and God’s fingernails. Magic shit.
“Charlie Boy” and “Slow It Down” relied on the three original band members, while the other two left the stage. Next was a new, unnamed duet between Pekarek and Schultz that played on a sweet back-and-forth love exchange.
Toward the end of their set, the Lumineers broke into “Dead Sea” and “Stubborn Love”, as Y La Bamba returned to the stage, clapping, slapping tambourines, and singing like one big, happy family. When the song was done, everybody laughed, hugged, and shook hands, suggesting they’d all dipped into the MDMA candy bowl backstage.
During the encore, the Lumineers unplugged and played “Darlene”. They asked the crowd to put away their recording devices and phones, forcing the crowd to just “be with them” and listen. They closed with a cover of “The Weight” by the Band. Some members forgot the lyrics, but nobody cared. They were too busy smiling and having a good time—and, as cheesy as that sounds, it was kind of beautiful. And besides, if I were in the Lumineers, I’d be smiling, too: $47.50 per ticket at a sold-out Vogue Theatre? Not bad for old wheels.