Considering that this week has been dominated by conversation about Miley Cyrus’s abhorrent “performance” during last Sunday’s VMAs, I thought I’d take this time to discuss an actual, legitimate, authentic live performance that I witnessed last night by none other than Mumford & Sons.
On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the band performed in Queens at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. If you live in New York and are unfamiliar with the venue, it’s because it hasn’t hosted anything major in more than two decades.
However, back in its hey day, it hosted performances from iconic musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix. But even more than as a concert venue, it was known for hosting the U.S. Open tennis tournament for more than 50 years until 1977.
Undoubtedly aware of its rich history, Mumford & Sons took it upon themselves to restore the venue back to its glory, and gave one hell of a performance. The picture you see is my own, and that’s why it’s of shitty quality. But not bad for a phone picture.
Obviously I am biased because I love the band. I’ve loved them ever since I first heard “Little Lion Man” on the radio a few years ago. Normally, when it comes to music, I tend to develop a hipster attitude and only listen to stuff that is lesser known and isn’t often played on the radio. But Mumford & Sons’ popularity does not bother me.
In fact, if anything, it restores my faith in humanity. With the garbage that exists in music today — including Miley Cyrus — it’s a breath of fresh air to know that a group like Mumford & Sons can still be universally appreciated.
I had seen the group once before, in Memphis in 2011, and while I liked them at the time, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them. But I thought they sounded great, and I’ve longed to see them again since. They’ve since put out a new album, Babel, and thus expanded their catalog. I’ve listened to both albums abundantly, and I pretty much love every song they’ve ever written.
Needless to say, I was very excited to see them live, and I had very high expectations.
First, I arrived in Forest Hills approximately three hours before the band was set to take the stage, and I decided to meander around and check out the bar scene. It didn’t take long to sense the buzz that existed in the area. In fact, the neighborhood felt like one big party. Forest Hills natives may have not been too thrilled with it, but I thought it was awesome, and I can’t recall ever experiencing anything like that before.
The first bar I walked past was packed to the core, so I chose to enter the next establishment. The first thing I heard was Mumford & Sons blasting over the speakers. I knew I found the right place. Indeed, tons of 20-somethings were all over the bar, guzzling beers and obviously pregaming for the concert. I can’t even imagine how much extra business this show must have brought to the area.
After a couple of hours of this, it was showtime. The arena was packed — too packed, in fact — but I somehow managed to squeeze my way near the stage. Finally the band came on, and they sounded exactly as I figured they would: awesome.
While on tour, bands play a ridiculous amount of shows in such a short period of time, that’s it’s only natural to think they might become bored sometimes. This was Mumford’s fourth show in six days, and they just played in Canada the night before. However, you’d never have known. If anything, the band performed like their lives depended on it. And that’s all you can ask for from an artist. I could not have been more pleased with what I saw.
Here is a video I recorded of them playing “I Will Wait,” probably the most recognizable tune from their previous album:
You wonder how a band can go from nonexistent to obtaining worldwide popularity in just a couple of years, but then you realize how young they all are. Marcus Mumford, the group’s lead vocalist, is only 26 years old. When their first album released, he was 23. So that kind of explains that. It’s not often you see a band of young adults become so popular, and their youth only means that there is plenty more to come.
Humorously, the group paid tribute to the venue’s history — during the end of their set, they brought out a container of tennis balls and used their guitars as tennis rackets to whack them into the crowd. Again, awesome.
So forget Miley Cyrus, people. Just eliminate her from your minds.
Instead, you should take comfort in knowing that there are true musicians out there, playing their hearts out to deliver music to people the way it was meant to be.