Review and Photos by Samantha Witt
On Friday, September 8th, music enthusiasts and fans of indie-folk and rock gathered at the iconic Gorge Amphitheatre for a night they won't soon forget. The anticipation was high as concertgoers eagerly awaited performances by two remarkable bands: The Lumineers and James Bay. However, the night held more than just memorable melodies; it also brought unexpected traffic chaos that added a unique twist to the evening's experience.
Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge, the venue itself set the stage for an unforgettable evening. As the sun began to set, the venue took on a breathtaking aura, with the crimson hues of the sky mirroring the passion and energy of the upcoming performances.
As concertgoers gathered on the lawn, there was a unique sense of camaraderie in the air. The diverse crowd, which spanned generations, was a testament to the universal appeal of The Lumineers. Excitement and unity were the common threads that bound everyone together.
James Bay began right at sunset. With his guitar skills on full display and his distinctive voice resonating throughout the venue, he delivered a soulful and electric performance. Songs like "If You Ever Want to Be in Love" and "Let It Go" stirred emotions, while the energy of “Hold Back The River" had the crowd dancing and waving their arms. James Bay's powerful stage presence left a lasting impression on the audience as they anticipated the headliners taking the stage.
Live Nation delayed the The Lumineers set so more fans could have time to arrive, and when they took the stage, they opened with “Cleopatra,” making the crowd erupt in boisterous cheers. Hits like "Ho Hey" and "Ophelia" had everyone on their feet, clapping and singing along.
Wesley Schultz's raw vocals and the band's folk-infused melodies created an intimate connection between the performers and the audience. He told the story of his wife and his car accident three years ago, saying that there was a time when he didn’t know if he’d be able to play shows again. He expressed his gratitude for the night and then had everyone’s arms waving for “WHERE WE ARE."
One unforgettable moment came during "Stubborn Love" when Schultz ventured out into the crowd, singing amongst the fans, making the massive amphitheater feel like an intimate living room jam session. It was a beautiful testament to the band's ability to connect with their audience.
The biggest obstacle of the evening was the nightmarish traffic leading into the Gorge. Hundreds of fans found themselves stuck in miles-long traffic jams on the one-lane, winding road to the venue. This caused many to miss out on a significant portion of the show, if not all of the event itself. This traffic chaos was due to both the show being sold out and an additional 20,000 country fans arriving for the following evening’s sold-out Eric Church concert to camp for the night. Opening the campgrounds a day early is standard practice for The Gorge; however, extra security has been in place following the shooting in the campgrounds earlier this year. Live Nation and The Gorge sent out warnings via multiple outlets that morning, advising fans to leave early to make sure they did not miss part of the concert. Even with a 40-minute set delay from the Lumineers, hundreds of frustrated and disappointed fans desperately tried to make it in time for their favorite songs with just minutes to spare in their set.
Despite the unexpected traffic woes, this was a night of musical excellence and unforgettable moments. The bands' performances transcended the challenges, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of those who attended. As the last notes of “Stubborn Love" and "REPRISE" echoed throughout the gorge, it was evident that even the most challenging circumstances couldn't dampen the spirit of music lovers who came together to celebrate two extraordinary artists under the vast open sky of the Columbia River Gorge. It was surely a night to remember.