So this was a little weird. You see I hadn’t intended to see The Lumineers twice in a row. A few months back I went down to the box office at The Ogden and purchased tickets for two different shows happening on subsequent nights. The first show was for a Friday evening and it was for The Lumineers who I had recently been introduced to via a friend on facebook, the second show on Saturday was for Joe Pug who is an excellent song writer that I discovered through Ezra Furman. Sometime between purchasing those two tickets The Lumineers popularity skyrocketed and the Friday show sold out. One day I noticed that they had been added to the line up for the Joe Pug show. The listing said Joe Pug featuring The Lumineers, which made it seem like Joe Pug was still the main act. Then the show sold out and suddenly The Lumineers were headlining back to back nights at The Bluebird. I feel like this was a case of The Bluebird not realizing at all what they had in The Lumineers and scrambling to make as much as they could out of the short window they had. That did make for a bit of strangeness in the crowd as there were clearly people, like myself, who had purchased tickets to see Joe Pug and who may have been confused at his being moved to opening act. Their music isn’t that dissimilar though, and I can imagine there is a lot of opportunity for overlap there so I really hope that what came out of it is some new fans for Joe Pug and some new fans for the Lumineers.
Speaking of crowd strangeness I somehow found myself in the odd predicament of trying to explain to an incredibly drunk girl why she was wrong for bullying her way to the front and then standing directly in front of a woman who had been there for at least an hour. For some reason I though logically explaining to her that she doesn’t have any right to the space she is in despite the fact that she claimed to have gotten there at seven (an hour before the doors opened mind you) and despite the fact that she claimed to be friends with the “Girl that plays piano in the band” so that seemed legit. Still she drunkenly insisted they were friends and kind of came off a little stalkery. I get the feeling that she had seen them once and talked to them for a few minutes at the merch table after the show and that in her mind that made all of them best friends. In the end my arguments fell on deaf ears and she continued to stand where she was. Luckily for everyone’s sake she wandered away after the first few songs.
Bailiff is an alt-rock group hailing from Chicago. They had a very straight forward set up, drums, guitar, bass, all the essential band bits and they played well together. What really put them over the top though was their vocals. Their lead singer had a very unique quality to his voice that carried the songs and somehow managed to make them more than what they were. They won the crowd over quickly with the unique sound they were presenting and while I didn’t love everything they played I was among those won over. I’d definitely see these guys again.
The highlight of their set was a cover they did of Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark. Part of that may have been because it was a song that I was familiar with but I was also impressed with the way that they molded the song and made it their own. It was very well done.
I feel like I haven’t said a lot about these guys. Maybe I’m fatigued from two shows in two nights. I don’t know, just listen to them they’re good.
Joe Pug is a man who know how to write songs. He presents well crafted songs with intricate lyrics that tell good stories. In short he has a bit of what I always look for in a song writer. Interesting turns of phrase and subtle wordplay abound and he delivers it all with an exceptional amount of feeling. When he sings his heart is on his sleeve and he just shines. He’s got a very stereotypically country voice and because of that and some of the twang he puts into his songs I can’t help but wonder if he’s one of those songwriters who’s too complicated for popular country. My dislike for pop-country is not something I try to hide so I may just be biased here but it seems like he has all the making of a country star but he wants to write songs that matter and make sense and that’s just not what country music is about. I could be wrong, it’s possible he’s actively avoided the pop-country scene himself and has no desire to be a part of it. His band make up, especially the lead guitarist definitely pulls the band away from run of the mill country straight into alt-country territory.
Genre debates aside the man puts on a good show. He had a longer than average opening set, likely due to losing the headlining spot to The Lumineers. So it was nice to get to see him do his thing for as long as he was allowed to. He was also very gracious thanking The Lumineers for having them there, talking about how we had a great local band on our hands there, and talking up the great American music. It’s hard to say how much of that was professional courtesy though. I’m not a musician so I have no idea if it’s a big deal when something like this happens. How much ego comes into play. In the end, as a fan, I guess you’d hope that they are in it for the music and who plays first and who plays last doesn’t matter. As a person though I’d imagine that it’s kind of hard to deal with. Still he seemed to be having a great time and some of the crowd loved him. Unfortunately the rest of the crowd was being entirely disrespectful and talking loudly through his set which always bothers me to no end.
In the end the music is what matters though and the music was very very good. I’ll admit I was hoping for the more folk tone of the first video below in this show, but as you can see from the second he doesn’t really suffer from adding more layers to his music. It’s really just a personal taste thing.
The chorus of this song is just incredible:
Do you guys remember the first time I saw The Lumineers? Man it seems like it was only yesterday. Of course that is almost entirely because it was yesterday.
Everything I said in that post still holed true. The second show was just as good as the first. I forgot to mention yesterday that they played a cover of Subterranean Homesick Blues that was pretty damn incredible, and they played it again last night. They also play a cover of The Weight by The Band which is something I can always get behind. For what it’s worth I probably wouldn’t have decided to see them play two nights in a row. I don’t regret that it happened at all but, they only have one album and that limits a lot of what they can play in any given show. They did a good job of varying the order and everything was still lively and beautiful and kind of amazing. I just don’t know that I would have made the choice to see them twice. I guess what I’m saying is that it was a happy accident.
Before I present you with two more of their songs I’d like to point out that one thing they did that greatly surpassed what they had done the night before was the song they played in the crowd because they played it on the damn balcony. It was awesome.
So two more of their songs: