Feature: Mumford & Sons at the LC

From the August 9, 2012 edition

Sigh no more; Mumford & Sons are coming back to Columbus. Or perhaps just switch from anxious sighs to one of those windswept romantic sighs usually followed by fainting into someone’s arms.

Last time the anthemic U.K. folkies stopped through in May 2010, they played the Wexner Center’s Black Box on Mershon Stage, a relatively cozy setup that holds 550 people.

Selling out that space like Mumford did would be an impressive feat for most bands, but that figure looks cute compared with the numbers Mumford is pushing now. Presale tickets for Tuesday’s show in LC Pavilion’s 5,500-capacity outdoor amphitheater — 10 times the size of their last concert here — sold faster than any show in the LC’s 11-year history.

“If we would have opened all 5,500 out, we could have sold the Mumford out on the presale,” said Scott Steinecker, president of PromoWest Productions, which manages the LC along with Newport Music Hall, The Basement and A&R Music Bar plus Pittsburgh’s Stage AE.

Had the general ticket sale gone ahead as usual, Steinecker said the show easily would have sold out within the first hour. In three decades of Columbus concert promotion, Steinecker has only seen three shows sell out faster: Skid Row at the Newport, Coldplay at LC’s indoor stage and R.E.M. at Polaris Amphitheater.

Instead of settling for a record-setting sellout, after the successful presale PromoWest decided to expand to the LC’s “festival setting,” a 10,000-capacity temporary venue in the parking lot behind the amphitheater. They’ve tried the festival setting on four previous occasions: Warped Tour, a 311 concert, a QFM96 Wing Zing and a Supermoto Motorcycle Race.

Steinecker said the space features a stage, VIP risers, concession stands, bathrooms and everything else necessary for a show.

“The stage will be about the same size,” Steinecker said. “You have your mosh pit area where people crowd into just like at the LC.”

Tickets aren’t the only things going fast, and not just in Columbus. Mumford’s debut album “Sigh No More” remains at No. 13 on the iTunes album chart almost three years after its release; their follow-up, “Babel,” is 12th on the Amazon bestsellers list, and it doesn’t even come out until Sept. 25.

“As soon as we got [“Sigh No More”] in on vinyl, it’s never stopped selling,” said Brett Ruland, who owns Downtown record shop Spoonful Records. “So many different kinds of people like Mumford & Sons.”

Why such fervor for these earnest Englishmen? Perhaps because the band compiles so many popular factors among twentysomethings — the humongous scope of Arcade Fire, the woodsy harmonies of Fleet Foxes, the heart-on-sleeve troubadour tricks of Damien Rice, the sepiatone historical fiction of Neutral Milk Hotel — all of it scrubbed and shined for mass consumption.

Vaguely Christian lyrics like “You were made to meet your maker” might pull the youth group crowd. They’ve got dorky beardo heartthrob appeal, too. In the case of the LC show, having a killer opener like Dawes doesn’t hurt either.

Whatever the attraction, a legion of fans will be lining up Tuesday, ready to scream and squeal and sigh for Marcus Mumford and his not-really-sons.