What do you get when you throw a whole lotta musical talent and a slew of instruments into a vintage train for a week? We'll known soon enough. But if the kickoff of the Railroad Revival Tour in Oakland last night was any indication, it'll be a hip swinging', fist pumpin', feet stomping' good time.
The tour features Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and Old Crow Medicine Show, all known for putting on high-energy performances whose voltage could potentially power the tour's train of vintage railcars all the way to it's final stop in New Orleans.
Last night's venue was a new one for many Bay Area concert-goers. The Park, which is nestled among freight stacks and looming cranes, is on Oakland's port -- an appropriate setting considering the tour's trope. Fans were greeted at the entrance by the vintage California Zephyr the bands will call home this week on their six-city rail trip.
Things kicked off with the warm call of a choo-choo from the steam-powered locomotive, which spilled into Old Crow Medicine Show's set of high-octane fiddle-banjo tunes. By the time Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros took the stage, the sun was beginning to dip behind the Bay Bridge toward the San Francisco skyline. Front man Alex Ebert seemed especially bouncy, galloping around stage in a long, white frock, his loose hair knot swaying with every head bob. "I can't believe what I'm f---ing seeing!" he said as the skyline turned into a purple-orange haze. Near the end of the set, fans were finally satisfied with Sharpe's most popular song, "Home."
The song was particularly fitting for the tour -- bands looked right at home on stage and with each other, often sharing members for songs. They gave the audience a little taste of life on the train in an all-bands-on-deck rendition of the gospel song, "This Train (Is Bound for Glory)." Life looked extremely fun, if not noisy.
Mumford & Sons were the headliners, starting with "Sigh No More," the title track of their first (and only, so far) album. The crowd had thickened by the time the Londoners took the stage, and a sea of arms pumped in time to the lyrics. Marcus Mumford mentioned mid-set that playing with Sharpe on stage while the sun was setting was "one of the most transcendental experiences of my life."
Fans will be pleased to hear that Mumford is working on a second album, expected to be released this year. They played a few promising teasers last night, but stuck mostly to favorites from "Sigh No More."
The sound of the train whistle signaled it was time for the bands to pack, up, climb aboard and move onto the next city, where they'll have to work tenfold to outdo a stellar kickoff performance.