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September 1, 2012

Mumford and Sons worth the traffic

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The Daily Star

---- — It was mid-July when I received a Facebook message from a friend who wanted a large group of us to purchase tickets to a Mumford and Sons concert in Canandaigua, a town near Rochester.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mumford and Sons (which I sincerely hope no one reading this is), it is a British band with heavy folk and bluegrass influences. The four members are multi-instrumentalists, playing instruments varying from the mandolin, bass and resonator guitar, to the banjo, drums and piano, as well as others. 

The name “Mumford and Sons” derives from the band’s singer’s name, Marcus Mumford. The band once said it decided to go with the name because Mumford was the most visible member of the band, doing most of the booking and organizing, while the name itself sounded like an antiquated family business.

The band’s rationalization of its name basically summarizes its image altogether. The music it plays sounds rustic and often references literature with a message, such as Shakespeare and Steinbeck. 

Some of Mumford and Sons’ critics complain that much of the music sounds the same, with the constant use of the banjo and bass guitar. While I disagree with the statement, I can understand where they could make that claim, as the band does often use the same instruments in the majority of its songs. That said, I find the most appealing aspect of Mumford’s music to be in the lyrics, which is what initially drew me to the band and allows me to continue to enjoy it.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the folksy vibe that Mumford’s music emanates, and coming from a girl who is typically repelled by country and bluegrass music, that is saying something about the quality of the performance. 

So back to my description of the concert experience: seven friends and I left Oneonta on Aug. 7 determined to have a great time before we all split up for college and left a few behind for another year at Oneonta High School. Riding four people per car, we jammed to music and made only one pit stop. 

At one point, I, bored out of my mind, discovered that Mumford and Sons had just that day released the lead single, “I Will Wait,” for its new album, “Babel,” which is set to be released Sept. 24. We then listened to the song in great anticipation, feeling extremely lucky that we would be going to the concert the day the new song is released, and hoping that Mumford and Sons would play it that night.

After we finally made it to Canandaigua, we stopped at our hotel and dropped our stuff off, only to leave again in hopes to make it to the concert before the huge lines formed.

Once we got back on the road to drive over to Constellation Brands — Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, where the concert was taking place, we realized we should have left much, much earlier. It took us nearly an hour to move from downtown Canandaigua to the campus, and we ended up parking a few miles from the venue and taking a sweaty, overcrowded shuttle bus the rest of the way. We were separated from the other car of our friends in the traffic, but were lucky to find them before the concert began.

My friends and I arrived at the concert and met up with others who’d been saving us space on the lawn after the second opening act had finished its set. We were just in time for Mumford and Sons to play.

The band opened up with its song “Little Lion Man,” which was its debut single off of its first album, “Sigh No More.” After that, it played a new song off of Babel, and then continued to switch on and off the two records.

 My friends and I all had an amazing time at the concert, not only because of the band’s talent, but because when watching the band perform, you can tell that Mumford and Sons genuinely enjoys playing its music. At one point, the keyboardist jumped off of his platform from behind the keyboard during the song “Dust Bowl Dance” and began dancing and thrashing around, because he was so into the music. Now that’s what I call passion.

I also really enjoyed that it wasn’t just frontman Marcus Mumford doing the interacting with the audience; all four members spoke with the crowd and truly kept up a highly entertaining show. 

During the duration of the concert, a few of my friends and I also were privy to not one, but two shooting stars. I think it was meant to be.

After we left, the eight of us agreed that we were definitely going to see Mumford and Sons again, whenever the group is in the area to promote its new album. I highly recommend that you go see the band for yourself — it will change the way you see live shows.

Maggie McVey, a 2012 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.