It's not rocket science.

The Lumineers aren't pushing musical boundaries or trying to rewrite the book on folk rock. The musicianship isn't extraordinary and the tunes are so simple that, as drummer Jeremiah Fraites once put it, "anyone with an instrument can play a Lumineers song."

Yet there's no denying how well it works on a commercial level. The Lumineers were one of last year's true breakout acts, thanks to a smash single ("Ho Hey"), a top 10 record (the Denver band's self-titled debut) and a Grammy nomination for best new artist.

The Lumineers have also become a top concert attraction, with the group's show on Friday at the Greek Theatre selling out well in advance.

The Lumineers perform in concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Staff)
The Lumineers perform in concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (Ray Chavez/Staff) (RAY CHAVEZ)

Wisely, The Lumineers aren't trying to do too much too soon with their live show. The five-piece band simply rocked the 8,500-capacity Berkeley venue like it might a little Boulder cafe. There was very little to be found in terms of production or theatrics. Instead, The Lumineers let the music speak for itself.

For the fans, that was enough. The joyous crowd, which looked similar to what you might have found at a Dave Matthews gig in the late '90s, cheered enthusiastically and sang along to most of the selections in the headlining set.

The music was comforting, if more than a bit boring at times -- kind of like watching an old TV program that you've seen before.


Advertisement

The Lumineers are part of the current folk-rock explosion, populated by such acts as Mumford and Sons & Monsters and Men. These acts are all peddling a nostalgic mid-'90s sound that evokes memories of Cake, Hootie & the Blowfish and, most strongly, the Dave Matthews Band (minus the musical chops and classic-rock edge). Collectively, the groups are busy making this one of the least interesting eras in popular music history.

The Lumineers -- Fraites, vocalist-guitarist Wesley Keith Schultz, cellist Neyla Pekarek, pianist Stelth Ulvang and bassist Ben Wahamaki -- certainly aren't the blandest of the bunch, at least not in concert. Kicking off the set with "Submarines," the group delivered more than its fair share of catchy choruses and singalong moments during the hour-plus show.

The excitement would peak early on, as the group spun likable enough versions of "Flowers in Your Hair," "Classy Girls" and "Ho Hey." It was a bit of a gamble to play the big hit "Ho Hey" so early in the night -- just the fourth overall selection -- as opposed to saving it for the encore.

And it didn't pay off.

Some fans, apparently having heard the one song that they wanted to hear, were heading for the exits fairly early in the evening. That only gave merit to the perception by some that The Lumineers are destined to be remembered as a one-hit wonder.

I disagree with that belief. The songwriting team of Schultz and Fraites is too crafty to slip away after just one album. For better or worse, The Lumineers should be around for several years to come.

Follow Jim Harrington at Twitter.com/jimthecritic.