Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sounds & Sights: Mumford & Sons, Bristol TN/VA

Music festivals are great places to meet people, especially when the concert is in a slightly random town, so a majority of the crowd had to travel to get there. Music physically bringing people together. Huh, there might be something to that.  At the Mumford & Sons Stopover Show, I met people from all over; Alabama, Georgia, both the Carolinas, Tennessee,  and Kentucky just to name the ones I can remember off hand. 

But maybe the most profound story was one that I was lucky enough to over hear. There was a reporter from a local news station going around interviewing people about how far they traveled. The last people she interviewed were these 3 kids that had driven down from Vermont. Like almost to Canada, Vermont. And by kids, I mean they just graduated from high school. But Mumford & Sons are their favorite band and they haven't had the chance to see them live, so they drove, straight through, all the way down to Tennessee, pitched a tent at a campground to sleep over night, and were waiting outside the venue by 8:30 AM the day of the show. The doors didn't open until 2 PM.  By the time that Mumford would walk on stage at just after 8:45 PM, these three friends would of been standing out in the sun (in August, in the South) for 12 hours. All to see a band. The reporter asked them what do you think will happen when they start playing, "I think I might cry," replied the girl in the group. I could tell that the reporter was a little taken back by this, but I know that these kids get it. Instead of asking why would do such a thing, a better question would be, why wouldn't you? When  something moves or stirs you, or just makes you feel beautifully human, why wouldn't you do whatever it takes to get to it?  

And by all accounts the band made all the driving, all the waiting worth it. They played a well balanced mix of both old stuff from their album Sigh No More, and new songs that will appear on their upcoming album, Babel. All the musicians from all the other bands that played that long day came together during the encore for a raucous version of  the Old Crow Medicine Show's song "Wagon Wheel" (Johnson City, Tennessee!).  The energy of the band (and polite British banter) washed over the crowd and hearing 17, 000+ voices singing and roaring "I will hold on hope," is a pretty powerful thing. Having a favorite band get so big is a bittersweet thing. You want people to listen to good music, you want the musicians to have the means to  continue to make music, but there is also the fear of them loosing touch with the audience when that audience is so huge that all those faces in crowd seem to just blended together in a giant blur. But just like the fans who "get it," I think M&S still get it too. They continue to write and perform songs of the human existence, they are still pretty humble about all their success and well, they can still throw a good party.   

I almost titled this post, " Singing with your eyes closed." I say this a lot and it comes from the movie "About A Boy." It is all about getting lost in the music to the point of singing with your eyes closed.  As I am taking more pictures at shows I find myself more and more trying to capture that moment when the musicians themselves get lost in their own music.  

 Yeah, so the keyboard player moves a lot, but I didn't want to leave him out, so um, sorry blurry Ben.

Fact: if there is a banjo on stage, I will have an obnoxious amount of pictures of that banjo, and probably the person playing it.

This is my sentimental favorite picture of the night, all those hands reaching:

Post Script: My absolute favorite M&S song is Roll Away Your Stone, I always hold my breath until they play it. It's a good thing it is usually early in the set. 


  1. Singing with your eyes closed---yes! :) Whenever we get together again, let's watch that movie.

  2. Still need to see that movie.

    Ps. Are those string lights? If yes, magical!

  3. Yes you need to see that movie, or me and Luci can just act it for you, if we all happened to be in the same state at the same time!

    And yes, those are string lights, they went from the stage back to the sound booth. Fancy.