The final stop of Mumford & Sons’ 2013 Gentlemen of the Road tour happened in my backyard at Francis Field in St. Augustine, Fla., Sept. 13-14. St. Augustine is a small town where a substantial chunk of the local economy is based on the Florida summer tourism industry. The Gentlemen shows over two nights came at the right time to boost the local economy during the first of the slow months.
In addition to the big concert at Francis Field, there were plenty of downtown shows with smaller bands and the tourist attractions were amped up for the weekend and were ready to maximize the experience for the many fans from out of town. Although downtown parking was limited, the town set up shuttle services to-and-from ample parking areas so fans could get in on the action.
The Gentlemen of the Road shows were a big deal in St. Augustine. Local businesses were encouraged by the city to promote the shows and many local businesses were decorated with mustaches (the logo for the tour) and sold trinkets related to the shows. Even the local lighthouse had a big ’stache.
Friday’s concert started at 6 PM with Willy Mason playing some acoustic music on the mainstage. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down played next and they were partially acoustic but more edgy and with louder sounds. Both were great for introducing newer music to the fans.
The music on the sound system between sets was also nice although it is hard to learn about it without knowing who it is. I heard some
The weather was perfect; the predicted chance of rain on the first day amounted to nothing. Between sets, an emcee brought the bad news that fun. had to cancel their performance the next day and he dropped a hint as to a replacement by saying “Have you ever seen the rain.” That was easy. Apparently John Fogerty would be there tomorrow to replace fun.
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros closed out the first evening with a perfect set of festival music that was uplifting and unique. Alex Ebert jumped off of the high stage to get up close with some fans and took requests from fans. Unlike the static banners behind the other bands, cameras on the stage captured video of the performance that was projected on a large screen behind the band with psychedelic effects.
More music and festivities continued after the big show but I had to head home to work on the photos and catch a little sleep before the earlier start the next day. I often wish there were two of me so I could capture as much as possible and keep up with processing/transmitting photos.
I arrived the second day in time for a set by Montreal indie band Half Moon Run. Justin Townes Earle was up next and said he had not taken a request since he stopped playing for tips, prompting more fans to yell “Freebird” (we are only 30 miles from Jacksonville).
The emcee came out cracking a whip (probably purchased at a local tourist shop) and officially announced that Fogerty would be filling in. Then The Vaccines played an evening set that rocked harder and helped stoke the fans who were starting to pack the field.
Fogerty came out with plenty of classics like “Lodi”, “Fortunate Son,” and “Suzie Q,” as well as “Mystic Highway,” a new song. “Proud Mary” was a nice sing-along for the fans. He began his set with The Vaccines and Winston Marshall backing him up with other members of Mumford & Sons gradually replacing most of The Vaccines by the fifth song. His set was a lot of fun and a great replacement for fun.
Mumford & Sons were the main attraction though, and the field was pretty full for their set. There were even more people standing on the sidewalk outside the field listening to the music. They played a sweet long set that culminated with other Gentlemen musicians jamming with them on a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and an encore featuring “Sister” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”
It was only three years ago when I saw them play an early set (noonish) at Sasquatch Festival for a few hundred fans. Now they attract 25,000 fans from all over the country to a small town for a two-day festival – several times a year! That’s a pretty fast ascent. It was a great weekend that benefitted the small tourist town and the traveling fans.