By Christine Beaderstadt
– The Capitol Hill Times -
The Lumineers seem to have come out of left field. Originally from New Jersey and transplanted to Colorado, the trio came to Seattle to perform at the sold-out Nuemos Saturday. Though originally scheduled for the Tractor in Ballard, the venue was switched to the larger Capitol Hill location due to rapid ticket sales and continued high demand.
The last 12 months have put the group on the map and in front of Seattle listeners. They played at the Crocodile, Neumos, the Tractor, and showed off their tunes to a crowd of several hundred at last summer’s Capitol Hill Block Party.
“We thought that was going to be the largest crowd we were ever going to play to,” frontman Wesley Schultz said as he and his band members pulled into the city limits last Saturday afternoon, about to prepare for that evening’s concert.
Schultz couldn’t have been more mistaken. Shortly after their block party performance, the group began recording their first full-length album (self-titled) in Woodinville, following the release of an EP. Now, playing sold-out shows seems to be more of a regular occurrence than not; a few nights before they hit the Neumos stage, they played a full house at Los Angeles’ Hotel Café and again in Portland before heading to Seattle.
Not quite folk, not quite Americana, and too deviant for traditional pop, The Lumineers pull influences from all three genres, then twist and tug and wrestle a sound to call their own.
Schultz, the leader of the band, started making music with childhood friend Jeremiah Fraites on the East Coast a few years ago. “I think we’re more successful now because we had [already] cut our teeth more than the average band [in New York and Jersey], which forced us to look in the mirror,” Schultz said of their development as musicians. “[Now] we’re more seasoned… [because we had] more failures than successes.”
Escaping the congested music life on the east coast, Schultz and Fraites headed west and soon found cellist Neyla Pekarek. Yet unnamed as a group, they took the stage at an unknown club in Denver when a DJ mistakenly misread a playbill, announcing a band, called Lumineers, as them. “It’s easier to be named than name yourself, so we just stuck with that name,” Schultz explained. Apparently, according to Schultz, the unknown group didn’t mind that their name had chosen the trio. Thus became The Lumineers.
It hasn’t just been ticket sales that have shown the band’s success, and Schultz likened their recently acquired tour van to a fish overgrowing its bowl: “We just got this and already it’s too small,” he laughed. In addition to the three members, they have since added two touring musicians, a pianist and a bassist, plus more equipment and a tour manager.
Despite the busy-ness of 2011 and all the touring the new year has brought, including a recent signing contract with label Dualtone Records, Schultz has high hopes for the band, which includes a potential European tour. As an artist, he can be like a hummingbird floating from one flower to another. At one point, he was fixated with only drawing. Then he moved onto basketball. Now his chosen focus is music. His ability to mold, morph, and intently focus on a craft (for however long) may just be why The Lumineers are selling out shows so quickly.
“It can be really fickle and random,” Schutlz said of the music industry. “We [as musicians] can’t control that.” What The Lumineers can control, though, is their art and how they play to a crowd. “It’s a different animal when we play bigger shows and [want to] connect with someone 200 people deep…. [But] we’re really honest in our performances.”
Their album comes out April 3, and currently can be streamed from their website.