April 21, 2012

Reviewed: The Lumineers with Kopecky Family Band

The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Boston, MA

Between The Lumineers' set and their encore, the manager of the intimate 200-capacity venue took the stage to share a few words. "These bands have outgrown this venue," she said. "We were lucky to book this tour right when things were getting big." Boy was she right. The sold-out, intimate, heartwarming show was clearly a sign of things to come for the fantastically rustic Denver trio.

Openers The Kopecky Family Band gave me as a pleasant surprise. The Nashville group (not actually a family) played a rousing set of swamp-rock that brought to mind their former tourmates, Givers. The members busted out some hidden talents including cameos of accordion, pedal steel guitar, trombone, and cello. A great match for The Lumineers, the faux-siblings let us hear some new tracks that they had been working on, and won over a crowd that was clearly in attendance for the other performers. Frontman Gabe Simon's voice proved to be the highlight of their set, echoing out over the dancing listeners. Also, they were the only band I have ever seen to pass out instruments into the audience. 

Fronted by Wesley Schultz, The Lumineers made the already small venue feel like a living room jam session. Roaring through a concise set filled with hand-clapping and foot stomping, the band radiated fun as much as the crowd. Schultz's harmonies with cellist Neyla Pekarek were much more powerful live, and added more pep to "Dead Sea" as well as lead single "Ho Hey." 

Because the group only has one fantastic album under their belts, they managed to squeeze in some beautiful covers. A raucous rendition of "I Ain't Nobody's Problem," written by their friend Sawmill Joe, showed the band's prowess when it comes to straightaway blues crooning. They ended the performance with "The Weight," a tribute to Levon Helm, that they claimed they weren't too good at. On the contrary, the cover really showcased Pekarek's stunning, powerful vocals that had been hinted at throughout the set. 

On the love song "Dead Sea," Schultz sings "You'll never sink when you are with me." While in the song the words are directed towards a love interest, he might as well be talking to the crowd. After that show, anyone in the audience will not sink for quite some time. 

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