The first man onstage, King Charles, probably hadn't seen a crowd like this. He seemed nervous behind his flowing locks and guitar, unable to keep the venue's attention. The people who came when the doors opened devolved into their own conversation. His was a fast set, though, and the band sharing the marquee, Cadillac Sky, turned things around. Cadillac Sky is a bluegrass act, a few guys with suspenders and bushy beards that made us stomp our feet and clap our hands, adjust our plaid shirts and take another sip of our whiskey-gingers. Nothing gets a crowd like this going like slapping a banjo, and the anticipation of the headliner was palpable. So was the weed smoke, wafting up in blue clouds and curling up like T. S. Eliot's cat.
The buzz continued through the intermission, and the noise was deafening when Mumford & Sons finally took the stage.
"Good evening," one of the guys said. And without pretense, the outfit began.
"Serve God love me and mend/This is not the end." The booming singalong started with the first harmonized lines of "Sigh No More" with the band backlit and shrouded in shadows. Then glittering strands of bulbs lit up the stage, and most members of the crowd threw their hands in the air, continuing to belt out lyrics right into the determined "Awake My Soul" and "Roll Away My Stone," which ebbed and flowed, bringing the dancing fans along for the ride.
No one talked much until about the fourth song, when singer Marcus Mumford asked if the crowd would like a waltz to go with the weather and then launched into a soulful rendition of "Winter Winds," prompting the crowd to punch the sky to the decisive beats and cacophony of the newly-introduced trumpets.