Since the release of their debut album in 2012, the Lumineers have taken the music industry by storm. At their second of two sold-out shows Sunday night at Red Rocks, it might seem apt then that the band played to a legion of their hometown fans through the thick mist of a drizzling deluge. The merciless rain did little to dim spirits though or derail the band’s newly-anointed headlining crown.
It might have helped that opening acts the Outfit and Dr. Dog unleashed masterful and energetic sets to enliven an audience clad in rain gear. Dr. Dog dipped into their vault of lo-fi rock gems with “Shadow People,” “That Old Black Hole” and the lively bass-driven treat “Heart It Races.” “The Beach,” undoubtedly inspired by the elements on hand, paired perfectly with the gloomy conditions as it pulsed along like the grind of a old engine revving up.
The Lumineers turned up the intensity from there as the pent-up giddiness of the crowd unfurled into a loud thunder. Draped by an aqua-blue lighting scheme reminiscent of the inside of a fish bowl, the band proved a formative ensemble. The simple unornamented sound of their music was good medicine on tracks like “Flowers In Your Hair” and “Classy Girls.” “Ho Hey,” which arrived surprisingly early in the set, sounded sharp and inventive in spite of itself — not stale and overplayed like most breakthrough hits. With a stiff rendition of Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” Wesley Schultz’s metallic vocals carried the weight of the lofty cover with subtle ease. “Slow It Down” was even grittier as Schultz took the stage solo and displayed the band’s recipe for music that is die-cast in simplicity and emotive fury.
If you decided to hit the road at that point, you might have missed the true rapture of the evening. In a rare move, the band ascended into the crowd above mixing board and performed a trio of songs for the weather-weary throng. “Elouise,” which sounded more profound in this makeshift milieu, exhilarated the audience and band alike. From there, the band regrouped on stage backed by the exquisite Colorado Symphony Orchestra. “Stubborn Love,” the knockout punch of the evening, was brilliant in its bellowing mid-tempo bluster that sent the audience into a frenzy. Not a bad way to ring-out soaked threads.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native and regular contributor to Reverb.