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Lumineers are the hot new old-timey thing at Rams Head Live

July 3, 2012

Photo: Haley Young

There’s something about seeing a band on the rise, at almost the exact moment that they seem to be catching on big time, that can make a show crackle with electricity, even if the band primarily plays acoustic instruments. Sunday night, halfway through The Lumineers’ set at Rams Head Live, one of the band members reported to the audience, “This is the biggest show we’ve ever sold out.” But they’re unlikely to stop breaking that personal record anytime soon: the band’s self-titled debut album was just released in April, and their single “Ho Hey” has already been placed in a number of TV shows and commercials, and just entered the Hot 100 less than two weeks ago.

The Lumineers stretched out their small discography as much as they could for a headlining set on Sunday night, including covers like Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” But their brief, spirited performance was paced well, and the band had the right idea not to delay their big hit for too long: drummer Jeremiah Fraites led the crowd into the titular chant of “Ho Hey” probably less than twenty minutes after the band hit the stage. The band’s songs aren’t always worthy of the crowd’s giddy reception — “Dead Sea” offers some particularly pained wordplay — but as performers The Lumineers seem assured and ready to play to enthusiastic sold-out crowds. And even if they weren’t, they’d probably still be well on their way to other old-timey acts like Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers to significant mainstream success.

Good Night, States were listed as the openers on the bill, which I soon learned was the name of one band, and not two different ones called Good Night and States. The Pittsburgh quintet played pleasant, twee indie pop that took on a little more muscle and character onstage than on their slight studio recordings. “We have a lot of songs with fake endings,” frontman Steve Gretz noted somewhat apologetically, as he talked over one of those fake-outs to make sure the audience didn’t applaud prematurely. They helped out with the night’s real big finish, though, when the members of Good Night, States joined The Lumineers onstage, and all ten musicians belted out a feelgood singalong of The Rolling Stones’ “Sweet Virignia.”