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The Lumineers are suited to big arena shows
The Lumineers remain the little band that could.
With a rootsy and even rustic sound, the Denver trio has made a lot of noise in the music mainstream -- with a platinum debut album in 2012, a No. 1 follow-up, "Cleopatra," last year, a Top 5 hit ("Ho Hey") and two Grammy Award nominations in 2013, including Best New Artist. Last summer the group conquered amphitheaters; this year it's touring arenas.
As percussionist Jeremiah Fraites notes, "If you named 25 bands you think would sound good in an arena, we wouldn't be on anybody's list." Nevertheless, the Lumineers are there, and Fraites and company are feeling at home in those unexpected environs...
The arena tour so far has "been really awesome," Fraites, 34, says by phone from Chicago. "We know that our music, on paper, is not meant to be (in arenas). I think that's what's really cool. It's been really nice for the band to try to work on the songs so they do work live in that environment. What's been cool is we haven't had to change the songs all that much; The secret touch tends to be maybe a little more drums or a little more percussion and backbeat. Beyond that we don't feel like the songs have to change too much just for the sake of hitting the arena style."
Fraites also predicts that arenas will be "just another stop on the journey" the Lumineers take throughout their career. "I don't think as a band it's necessarily wise to constantly be like, 'How can we get bigger and better?'" he explains. "We might do a tour in 10 years where we're like, 'Let's just do smaller theaters and people are seated and we'll show them the quieter side. Right now we're showing people the loudest, biggest side of ourselves, and it's pretty cool to be doing that."
More than just numbers, Fraites and bandmates Wesley Schultz and Neyla Pekarek are satisfied that they've made the leap from a band with one hit to a group that's actually found an audience for its body of work. "Y'know, we've got no Grammy nominations this year. We don't have that much going on on the radio, but yet here we are," Fraites says. "We've got thousands of people coming out to see us each night. We play 'Ho Hey' third or fourth in the set list every night -- and nobody leaves the show. They stay and sing almost all the words to all the other songs. Sometimes I do get preoccupied with, 'Aw, we didn't get any Grammy nominations' or 'How are we doing on Spotify?' but...that doesn't really matter. How can you ask for anything more than, like, two nights at Madison Square Garden. The proof is in the pudding. Any touring band would kill for this situation."
While the title track for "Ophelia" hasn't done nearly as well as "Ho Hey," it's still gotten enough radio play to maintain the Lumineers' presence on playlists. "Y'know, 'Ophelia' comes on the radio and it just sounds o weird compared to all the other songs on there," Fraites says. "It just doesn't sound like a song that should be on the radio, but yet there it is. What's cool to me is it doesn't feel like we're trying to be on the radio, but we got lucky and got another song on there."
As for thinking about the group's third album, Fraites says that, ""It feels really premature for me to even hear those fateful words. I'm always writing stuff and I'm always having these ideas. During the interim between album one and album two I was always wracking my brain -- 'What's the second album supposed to sound like? How's it going to sound like?' I don't want to preoccupy myself with too much pressure for the third album but I do want to think about it and it's still coming up with giant question marks, like 'What are we supposed to do for album three? We have basically a whole entire year of touring ahead of us, so there's not much pressure to be thinking about it. But I already am, and I don't have any conclusive results yet."
The Lumineers, Andrew Bird and Margaret Glaspy
7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27.
The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills.
Tickets are $29.50-$59.50.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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