This past weekend I started my two night residency at the Greek Theatre Berkeley with the Lumineers. I have seen the Denver based band play a few times before but there was something extra moving about seeing them this time. Maybe it was experiencing the band for the first time through the eyes of my Mother and Sister who have never seen them before. Maybe it was how magical the Greek Theatre is during our Bay Area indian summers. Maybe it was the fact that I am going through some pretty intense emotions lately that even I, the person experiencing them, am unable to pin point. Regardless I was moved on several occasions.
Seeing the Lumineers live, you can consistently expect a few things:
- Genuine interest and engagement with their fans in the crowd. The band has been used to playing small venues to promote their first album. So with their second album, selling out 8,500 person amphitheaters is mind blowing to them! They take great measures to create an intimate and unique experience. For our show, Wesley asked the crowd to not use cell phones and to be in the moment. Of course, no one listened but I think his commentary did make people think twice about filming. They also did something in all my years going to the Greek I have never experienced — They came out into the crowd, instruments and all, and played on a small stage set up between the second tier of bleacher seats. Wesley did the unthinkable, he sang while climbing up the staircase going towards the lawn! I get winded just walking and not talking going up those steep stairs! I have absolutely no idea how he did it while carrying a tune.
- Covers. While the band now has two full length albums, they still choose to do a few covers. My favorite they did for us was this Talking Heads cover when Wesley brought out Rayland Baxter to sign it with him. Given the themes of death, happiness and completeness that I have been exploring through inquisitive thought lately, I found this song in synchrony with my life.
- Great story telling. One perk of seeing a band live is that they can explain the inspiration behind songs to you. Your meaning of the song is always different than theirs, but its so incredibly insightful to hear the truth behind the music. These artists do the unthinkable everyday – They open themselves up and spill their guts out on the table for everyone to see and explore. They work through their issues and head while they help others heal and work through their problems at the same time. It’s this incredible symbiotic relationship between artist and fan that sometimes we forget about. They don’t make the music to make money. They make the music in an effort to help themselves and a byproduct of that is helping others. Two of my favorite stories Wesley told us were about his family. Charlie Boy is about his uncle Charlie who was so inspired after hearing JFK give a speech he signed up for the Vietnam war where he ended up dying. I always thought that song was about the Vietnam war, but I didn’t realize how incredibly personal that song was for him. The second story was given when he introduced Gun Song about his Dad passing. I’m sure we all can relate that we all think we know our parents well. I mean, we’ve known them our whole lives! But, for Wesley there was a moment when his father passed and he was out of clean socks so he went to his fathers dresser to use a pair. In the drawer he found a pistol. A pistol he didn’t even know his dad owned. A pistol that signified there were many things he evidently didn’t know about his father. Upon this discovery, he wanted to ask his dad so many questions but he couldn’t. He was no longer here.