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At a fest where it seems every band tries to outdo each other with stage set-up, pyrotechnics and flash, the bare-bones stage for Mumford & Sons came as a bit of a relief. But the bare-bones vibe of the set seemed to leak into the band's performance for at least the first half of the show when I thought I would have been better off listening to their album on Spotify at home than in the crowd at Lollapalooza.
For eleven straight songs the band played their music almost verbatim as it appears on their albums, barely stopping to make any chatter (with the exception of lead singer Marcus Mumford declaring, "You're the best motherfuckers.") in between numbers. And in a supremely hipster move, the video that played on the Jumbotron was cast in black and white only.
But, if the first two-thirds of the set felt like a snoozefest, the band certainly came back with a vengeance during their last number, "Dust Bowl Dance." They rocked and rocked hard, something I really never thought I'd say about this folksy foursome.
And when they quickly returned for an encore they didn't disappoint either. Starting off slow and in complete darkness, the band crooned "Lovers' Eyes" as the lights and video slowly came back on stage. They kept the mellow tempo going with a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm on Fire," which they sang gathered around just one microphone.
"If it goes wrong, well then fuck it," Mumford said before gathering around the single mic with his bandmates. "Can you all shut the fuck up just for a minute?"
While this quiet number would have done well at a smaller venue, it just wasn't destined for greatness at Lolla with the thumping bass from Perry's stage drowning out the band and overpowering the dramatic effect they were trying to achieve.
Mumford closed out the set with fan-favorite "The Cave," again rocking more than I ever imagined they would—at one point bassist Ted Dwane was waving his upright bass around on the stage like an electric guitar. The crowd went nuts, swaying and jumping in unison. These last four songs were what the whole set should have been.