I'm not a Mumford & Sons fan. Or at least I wasn't. Usually, banjos are a deal breaker for me, and un-ironic suspenders make me uncomfortable. So, when I was asked to attend and cover Mumford & Sons' performance at MSG last night, I hesitantly and unenthusiastically agreed. But today, I showed up to work repping a shirt from the concert and humming "Little Lion Man." What is happening to me?
It's not that I explicitly disliked the band before, or was unaware of their superstardom, I just never understood the phenomenon. But apparently I was part of a minority, because the moment I posted on social media about going to the show, my phone began trembling with "I'm so jealous!!!!!!!!!!" messages and heart-eye emojis (and that emoji with the stars popping out of its face, but that one creeps me out).
Among the jealous-Jamies was Popdust's very own Brooke Ivey Johnson, who recently reviewed the band's fourth studio album, Delta, which arrived November 16th. Like many fans, Brooke had mixed feelings about this latest body of work, but nonetheless considers herself a day-one fan.
Despite fan's reservations about Delta, Madison Square Garden was packed, and the energy that filled the stadium was almost spiritual. When Marcus Mumford left the stage mid-song and ran through the crowd, you could tell the frantic fans that were touched by even a drop of his sweat felt #blessed. The crowd was reactive to the band's every move, and it was clear that Mumford and his sons were experienced in creating a spectacle worthy of post-show-dry-blinkless-eye syndrome. Beams of light shot on and away from the stage, which was situated in the middle of the arena, giving people on all 4 sides a "front row" experience. Elevated platforms on either end of the stage featured full drum kits, allowing for some pretty sweet moments where Marcus Mumford and Chris Maas played simultaneously.
To me, the stage reminded me of an old pirate ship, and the thought of folk-pirates galavanting around their vessel with vests and banjos made me really happy.
The platforms also allowed for more intimate moments, when the performers would stand together on one end of the stage, sharing a spotlight, playing acoustic instruments and flexing their harmony game. Maggie Rogers — the extremely impressive singer/songwriter that opened for M&S — even joined the band on stage during one such moment. The combination was brilliant, the crowd was mesmerized, and Rogers' stage presence and voice gave me major Joplin vibes (that is forever a compliment). The only thing lacking, in my opinion, was some nod to the Christmas season and to New York City. Normally I'm not one for Christmas songs, and I understand if they wouldn't want to alienate fans of varying faiths, but M&S surely would have hit a home run with a quick cover of The Pogues' "Fairytale of New York." That would have made it 10/10 perfect.
So...what's happened to me? Does this mean I am finally going to embrace living in Brooklyn and grow a mustache? Am I now a part of the global cult of Mumford & Sons' fans? ARE WE THE SONS? AM I DEAD?!
Regardless of these questions that will surely keep me up at night, as Isaac Feldberg wrote in his review of the band's recent show at TD Garden,
"What Mumford & Sons have done exceptionally well across the past decade, then, is craft sonic sermons that preach to the widest-possible audience, songs that don't directly exalt in religiosity so much as recognize the omniscience of its precepts in everyday life and channel those into something with unifying appeal."
Perhaps I really have been converted. Cheers to M&S for putting on a show that was undeniably dope (can folk be dope?); from the sound, to the special guests, to the lights and the pyrotechnics, and that cool thing where a bunch of confetti rains down after a big moment. The tour is definitely worth catching, and I guess I'm okay with considering myself a fan. Mustache TBD.
Brent Butler is a NYC-based rapper, producer, and guitarist. He is a regular contributor to Popdust and host of Popdust Presents. Follow Brent on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Soundcloud | and check out his debut solo EP, | L I L A C |