Experience Insider Access
The Lumineers rock at Brooklyn's restored Kings Theatre
Historic venue plays host to intimate evening of rousing Americana hits
Surrounded by the hand-painted gilded walls, ornate plaster sconces, and plush red velvet curtains and seats of Brooklyn, New York's Kings Theatre, The Lumineers took the stage on a steamy summer evening to tape a secret performance.
Before the concert, one in a series of "Live from the Artists Den" shows—this one scheduled to air on PBS in October—fans snapped photos of the restored French Renaissance space and its one-ton lobby chandeliers. Then they filled in the front orchestra section of the theater once known as "Brooklyn's Versailles."
The excitement was palpable among the 1300 spectators as they awaited the band's appearance. The "Artists Den" is a critically acclaimed series from executive producer Mark Lieberman, and director of programming Alan Light, that pairs celebrated bands with often historic venues.
From the band's Grammy-nominated, self-titled 2012 debut, to its 2016 sophomore album, "Cleopatra," The Lumineers are beloved for their authentic brand of spirited Americana folk rock. For a band that typically plays sold-out stadiums, the August performance in front of an intimate audience, was a treat.
The crowd for the 18-song set included 80 Chase Sapphire® cardmembers and their guests, who won free tickets and the full VIP treatment: reserved seats close to the stage, gift bags and access to the after-party.
From struggle to sold out stadiums
After 10 years of day jobs and side gigs while trying to break into the music scene in New York City, The Lumineers founding members Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites moved to Denver in 2009, met cellist Neyla Pekarek via Craigslist, and, in 2011, signed to the management company Onto Entertainment. When they hit it big in 2012 with their first single, "Ho Hey," their years of struggle and determination paid off.
"By the time things got really crazy for them—in a good way—they knew who they were as people," says their manager, Christen Greene. The band members were well into their thirties by then and had already figured out what they wanted to accomplish as musicians.
True to Greene's assessment, when the band took the stage, they seemed genuinely thrilled at both the impressive architecture and the joy of their fans. As they made their way through the set, fans bopped in time to the group's signature sounds of stomping drums, resonant guitar riffs, and parlor-style piano key clanks, accompanied by the soaring harmonies and the warm notes of Pekarek's cello.
A truly intimate evening
Chase Sapphire® cardmembers, with their unique access to the event, appreciated the unusual setting and candor of the performers.
"The whole evening gave me goose bumps," says cardmember Kevin Bishop. "It was an intimate experience because they shared stories behind the lyrics that I never knew."
The magical moments fans experienced reflected both the band's powerful performance and the building's glittering French Rococo décor—modeled after the Palace of Versailles as well as the Paris Opera House. The Kings Theatre opened in 1929 as one of the five original "Loew's Wonder Theatres," where popular films and the top vaudeville acts of the day graced the ornate stage.
But when the theater shut its doors in 1977, "the place was relatively a disaster," says Steven Ehrenberg, director of production for Kings Theatre.
Martinez + Johnson was the renowned architectural firm responsible for restoring the entire building to its original plaster, painting, and fabric schemes including the vintage carpet.
"They found a piece of original carpet under the popcorn machines and had the original mill recreate a new version," Ehrenberg says.
The $95 million restoration took two years, and the theater reopened its doors in February 2015 with a Diana Ross concert. The theater—the fourth largest venue in New York City—has also started to revitalize Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood, providing jobs to residents while drawing in new restaurants, hotels, and other retail.
As The Lumineers finished their set with "Stubborn Love," the attention to detail in their performance echoed the same care taken to restore the Kings Theatre to its former glory. This commitment to both musical and architectural authenticity made for an epic live concert experience.
Image: Joe Papeo for Artists Den Entertainment © 2016 | Sari Beth Rosenberg is a Chase News contributor. She has written about entertainment, wellness, and fitness.