Despite multiple “Sold out” signs taped on the doors and employees stationed near the front of the record shop to tell patrons they wouldn’t be able to see the band without wristbands, a few dozen Mumford & Sons fans lingered around the aisles of Twist & Shout Records on Friday afternoon. You know, just in case.
The downtown Denver shop announced earlier in the week it would be hosting a tiny acoustic show featuring the powerhouse British rock band.
About two hours after the announcement, all of the available 150 wristbands — which were free — were gone, and so, too, it seemed, was the incredibly rare opportunity to see up-close a group in town to play three sold-out nights at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre, a Greenwood Village venue with a capacity of 18,000 people. Tickets ranged from $39.95 to $99.50.
The wristband-less folk were right to stick around.
Just minutes before Mumford & Sons appeared out of the back, store owner Paul Epstein muttered to his staff something like, “Just let everybody fill in.” In total, 225 people crowded the stage set up in the middle of the room, lined by rows of vinyl.
Epstein says the band contacted him in May and asked if they could play a set that would be free, intimate and unplugged.
He responded with an excited “yes,” because, he said, “They’re one of the biggest bands on Earth.”
“And then everybody kept it a secret until this week,” Epstein added.
When frontman Marcus Mumford stepped on stage, he emphasized the show, unlike the Grammy-winning act’s stadium shows, wouldn’t be at all loud.
“We’re just going to do it like this,” he said, welcoming chuckles and applause from people circling the stage. “So, raw. ... And it’ll have to be really quiet for it to work. I hope you can accept that.”
During the 20-minute performance, the four members faced each other and played four songs, including “Wild Heart,” “Ditmas,” “Cave” and “Guiding Light.”
Epstein says Friday’s show was just as “meaningful and memorable” for Mumford as it was for everyone at the record shop.
“Every band starts small,” he said. “As they get big, they miss that genuine connection to their audience.”
Among those attendance was a young woman who brought a cookie cake — decorated with birthday message to bassist Ted Dwane — from Maggie & Molly’s Sweet Life as an offering in lieu of a wristband. She later got to give the cake to Dwane, who turned 35 on Thursday.
Another was Adam Walker, who lives in the East Colfax Avenue neighborhood and thought, “Why not stop by?”
“How often do you get to see a band of their caliber in a small setting like this?” Walker said. “I thought it was worth a shot.”
Before the show, an emcee suggested audience members keep their phones in their pockets, saying, “Let’s just be here and enjoy.”
But it was one of those experiences where you can’t decide between pulling out your phone to take a video or simply enjoying it. Many in the room settled for a mix of both.
As one woman said while taking a video, “I can’t not. I have to remember this.”
Twist has hosted many in-store shows, including ones featuring The Fray and Nathaniel Rateliff. Epstein says Friday’s event was among the biggest.
“This was a pure musical experience,” he said. “For a band at the peak of their popularity to come into a record store and not connect the performance to any financial reward or anything … that’s amazing. It was just for the love of music. And that’s what we’re all about.”