The Lumineers Brightside illuminates Darien Lake

On the heels of 2022’s Brightside album, the The Lumineers have hit the road again. August 22, with James Bay joining the fray, they made their way to Darien Lake Amphitheatre for an evening of Americana music.

After playing small gigs, open mic nights, and struggling to make ends meet under various monikers, The Lumineers were “formed” when an emcee misspoke during an introduction. Although Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites had been playing together since 2002, a working name never really happened until this mishap.

12 years after their first single, “Ho Hey” was released, The Lumineers now have 4 studio albums, 4 headliner tours, and millions of fans worldwide, in addition to a couple Grammy nominations. Of those millions of fans, a plethora of them showed up for the show at Darien Lake and sang their hearts out.

Before they were able to sing along with Jeremiah and Wesley, fans were treated to 40-minute set from English songwriter, James Bay. Very subdued in his own right, Bay had the attention of the fans who were filing into their seats in anticipation of the nights headliner.

With 3 albums and a couple EPs to his name, Bay has been nominated for a montage of music awards and has won a 7 British music awards since 2015, including Best New Act, Breakthrough Solo Artist, and Best British Solo Artist. Around 7:30pm, he let the crowd know why he has won those awards.

Classic Americana style, Bay rocked his guitar as he opened his set with “Best Fake Smile”. A song seemingly about standing up for yourself and having a voice, topics very prevalent in society.

No, you don’t have to wear your best fake smile
Don’t have to stand there and burn inside
Oh, oh, oh
If you don’t like it

Although an opening act, the fans reactions and ability to follow along make it clear that he is a respected musician and very much a headlining act on his own.

After a 45-minute break to reset the stage and get things in order, the stage goes dark. Intermittently, we get some loud drums from the loudspeakers, timed up with stage lights to welcome The Lumineers. This goes on for about a minute or so as anticipation builds for the band make an entrance. Cell phones up high hoping to catch a glimpse or record a video clip, fans were eager.

Finally, a few minutes later, you can see an entourage of silhouettes making their way into position. The time has come to go nuts. Lights go on across the stage set and Wesley Schultz and crew announce their arrival with 2016s “Cleopatra,” “Flowers in Your Hair,” and the big “Ho Hey.”

With a stage full of musicians, there was never a shortage of entertainment to keep an eye on, or at least try to. Jeremiah Fraites ( drums/percussion, piano, mandolin, vocals), Stelth Ulvang (piano, keys, accordion, mandolin, guitar, percussion, vocals), Byron Isaacs (bass, guitar, vocals), Brandon Miller (guitar, mandolin, percussion), and Lauren Jacobsen (strings, piano, vocals). This line up screams excitement, and The Lumineers brought it all night long, with each musician displaying their talents. There wasn’t a single person here that didn’t bring the energy, and they all had a blast on stage.

Covering a good set of shows at Darien Lake this summer, I have heard some loud fans singing along with the acts. But, let me tell you this. The fans for this show blew everyone else away. There was no competition. During at least three songs, the crowd was so loud, it nearly drowned out the act on stage. Songs like “Gloria” and “Ophelia” were echoed right back to Wesley and Jeremiah as they belted out the lyrics.

Combining pop with classic Americana and a little bluegrass may not seem the norm. However, this group of amazing artists have been making it work for several years now, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Wesley as gathered a strong support group around him and Jeremiah and the cohesive chemistry you see on the stage is flawless. While I have heard the music before, I would have never called myself a fan. After seeing the performance with nearly 20 thousand other fans, I am hooked. Stage presence, subtle sounds, and high energy are keys to a good show, and The Lumineers put all of that and then some on display.

Set list: Cleopatra, Flowers in Your Hair, Ho Hey, Angela, WHERE ARE WE, Dead Sea, A.M. Radio, My Cell, Slow it Down, Charlie Boy, BRIGHTSIDE, Gloria, Sleep on The Floor, Ophelia, Leader of the Landslide/You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Salt and Sea, Birthday, Big Parade, Donna, Submarines, Remington, Reprise, Stubborn Love

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