People LOVE Mumford & Sons. A lot. The band played the Wexner Center’s Black Box on the Mershon stage a couple years ago, then sold out the roughly 5,000 tickets for the outdoor version of the LC Pavilion. So Scott Steinecker, head of LC’s parent company PromoWest, decided to turn the Aug. 14 show into a “festival setting,” which meant renting a stage and turning the LC’s parking lot into a venue that could hold roughly 10,000 people. And the Brits packed that lot, too, selling out double the LC’s regular capacity.
This was the scene: A fence around the perimeter, beer stations everywhere, Late Nite Slice, a burrito bus, plus a large screen next to the main stage and another in the middle of the lot about halfway back. Here’s a view during Dawes’s opening set from roughly halfway back on the left side:
A few thoughts:
1. In the future, if an LC festival show sells out and there’s a Clippers game the same night, get Clippers tickets. In fact, even if it doesn’t sell out, it may be smarter to opt for the cheaper Clippers tickets (as long as you can stay there late) because the people on the stadium’s balcony had the best seats and sight lines in the house. [Update: More info on that balcony in the comments.]
2. The parking lot is sloped like a bowl, so people in front and people way back (by the rear exterior LC wall) had a good view of the stage, but a big chunk of the audience in the middle had no way of seeing the stage unless you found a grassy median to stand on. Similar to those above-the-bar TV screens at the Basement (by far PromoWest’s worst venue), more people were staring at screens than the stage…
3. …but, the black-and-white videography on those screens was great — probably the best live video work I’ve seen. I don’t know if it was PromoWest’s people or Mumford’s people, but paired with a good audio capture, a recorded version of what played on those screens would make a great concert DVD with little editing.
4. Mumford & Sons have become an easy band to hate on, like folk-rock’s Nickelback. And I admit I wasn’t expecting much. But these guys were impressive onstage: charismatic blokes who commanded the stage with equal parts humility and gusto. Good harmonies, good musicianship. Lots of sweaty, fervent stomping. Somebody was going to take strummy folk-rock and U2-ify it eventually. It had to happen. Might as well be Marcus Mumford.
6. Dawes got the short end of the stick. No video screens to supplement the poor sight lines, still daylight, a quiet house mix. And it was clear that 97% of the crowd was there to see Mumford.