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Review: The Lumineers enliven Tampa's USF Sun Dome with tons of talent, energy



Light-hearted, merry mountain rock spilled out of the USF Sun Dome in Tampa on Saturday night thanks to the combination of sets from the Lumineers, Dr. Dog and Nathaniel Rateliff.

The serenade kicked off early at 7:15 p.m. when Rateliff’s four-person musical entourage, including a pregnant Julie Davis on the upright double bass, entered the already crowded venue. Davis’ shy voice complimented Rateliff’s hearty vocals through an energetic 30-minute set. The first of many surprises came when two members from the Lumineers (Stelth Ulvang and Jeremiah Fraites) suddenly appeared on stage to play a boisterous tune with the opener, and exited as fast as they came.

From behind gold-plated mics and mic stands emerged Dr. Dog, a hip, all-male fivesome out of Pennsylvania, though you wouldn’t know it by the sound. When they performed a knee-buckling rendition of Too Weak to Ramble, two things were apparent: these dudes were brimming with talent; and the Lumineers' choice of openers was no mistake. Between the layered guitars, organ and two singers came textured melodies that made you forget they weren’t the headline act. It’s pretty safe to say they earned some new fans Saturday.

By 9:30 p.m., more than 5,000 fans packed into the Sun Dome to see the Lumineers, a band that’s catapulted into the mainstream in less than two years. It looked like they were taking it well.

Hailing from Denver, Colo., the band is comprised of Wesley Schultz on lead vocals and guitar; Fraites on drums/percussion; Neyla Pekarek on cello and backing vocals; Ulvang on piano and accordion; and Ben Wahamaki on bass. But listing their fortes is arbitrary, as on any given song they could be seen playing or singing the opposite of their specialities. Actually, after this gig, I believe it is possible to be grossly over-talented. I’m not complaining, but my goodness, did this quintet entertain.

Anyway, back to the goods and surprises. Five giant chandeliers hovering over the stage were uncovered just before the Lumineers surfaced. They opened with the popular Submarine and by the fourth song, they played their No. 1 hit Ho Hey. With only one album under their belts, they gave play to other material including a version of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, a cover of local Denver act Sawmill Joe’s Ain’t Nobody’s Problem, the Talking Heads’ This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), and a new song, Falling.

After a tender Dead Sea, Schltuz told the crowd, “It’s crazy to hear people cheer that loud for a song we recorded in the kitchen and living room.”

He is a frontman by all means, commandeering and unafraid. His humble and trusting approach led him and Fraites out into the heart of the crowd, atop a platform surrounded by adoring fans (and security), to play Darlene and Elousie. Ulvang could be seen with his accordion in the risers while Pekarek and Wahamaki stayed on stage.

Honestly, despite a few cliche stage moves, sheer passion and joy emanated from the band in every which way. Ulvang played the keys with his feet and even hopped on top of the piano for a jig, tambourine in hand, during the climax of an encore medley in which members from both Nathaniel Rateliff's band and Dr. Dog joined the party. Fans, from five years old to 60, basked in the prolific showdown.

All three bands worked in a symbiotic way, each set adding synergy from the other, so it translated on the stage to an evening as equally effervescent as their music. Needless to say, if you weren’t there, you totally missed it.

-- Stephanie Bolling, tbt*

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 9:26am]


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