Sunday's thunderstorms did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of people who waited in line an extra hour in a drizzle and sometimes-downpour to see Mumford & Sons at Ogren Park at Allegiance Field.
The rain finally began to ease around 6 p.m., and soon after, the boom of sound checks from within the field replaced the rumble of thunder, and when the doors opened at 7 p.m., an hour after originally scheduled, some sunlight had begun to spill through the clouds.
Mumford & Sons took the stage unannounced a little after 9. After the first few verses to "Darkest Hour," lead singer Marcus Mumford looked into the crowd that had braved rain, wind and thunder to see him and the band.
"Hello, Missoula," he said.
The crowd roared its appreciation.
The rain did little to keep ticket holders away, with fans packing into stands and spilling into the field.
Portugal. The Man opened with covers of "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Another Brick in the Wall," blasted from speakers at the stage and posted up at first and third base.
Before launching into their set, bassist Zachary Scott Carothers introduced a member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe. The band, which hails from Wasilla, Alaska, makes it a point share their venues with any local tribes in the area. The Northern Cheyenne woman led the crowd through a blessing.
"Feel this energy. We're at the center of the universe," she said.
The six-member band completed its 45-minute set with a performance of "Feel It Still" off their album, Woodstock.
"I came here for Portugal. The Man and she came here for Mumford & Sons," said Pete Christensen, who came to Missoula from Helena with his wife, Kyna.
The couple stayed dry at a local brewery before taking their spot in line.
"They've been around for about 10 years now," Kyna said. "It's weird to think about where I was 10 years ago, when I first started listening to them."
"You were in grad school," Pete said.
Earlier in the day, during a persistent drizzle, staff members directed beer and hamburger shipments that rolled off dozens of diesel trailers, and crews erected tents and laid tarps over the amps and other electrical equipment that dotted the stage assembled in the outfield.
“The rain’s no issue. Only the lightning can hurt us,” said one staff member.
The concert Sunday marked the start of a series of shows held at Ogren Park and hosted by Logjam Presents. In a 2018 agreement with the City of Missoula, the company made a 10-year commitment to improve the stadium’s infrastructure while also booking three to five concerts to play at the home of the Missoula Osprey every year.
Prior to the arrival of Mumford & Sons, Logjam Presents spent more than $150,000 in renovations and adding additional equipment. The number of ticket holders hovered around 12,000, dwarfing the previous numbers of 6,000 who turned out to see Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp in 2010, and 8,000 for Paul Simon in 2017.
The band, which has been on a world tour since November 2018 in promotion of its latest album, Delta, scheduled a stop at Ear Candy on Higgins Avenue before taking the stage at Ogren Park. Although organizers kept the time of their smaller show under wraps, by 3 p.m. Sunday, a crowd gathered in front of the store to catch some of the music that hummed through the entrance.
Around 70 people managed to grab tickets by raffle to the Ear Candy show. The set exemplified the band's practice throughout its tour of playing in smaller, more intimate settings leading up to their arena performances.
“My husband and I have tried to see them a couple of times,” said Pam Cutler while she stood in a line that snaked into the Mellow Mood parking lot.
Bassist Ted Dwane’s 2013 brain aneurysm prevented the couple from seeing the band in 2013. Although both Pam and her husband entered the raffle, only she came away with a ticket.
After each raffle winner got their wristband, they came in out of the wind, rain and hail.
While Mumford & Sons played in the tight atmosphere of Ear Candy, out of the elements, fans started to line up outside the ballpark. Some stood beneath umbrellas, tree branches or just under the hoods of their jackets.
Overhead, thundered murmured and occasionally roared.
“It’ll be worth the wait, so long as it doesn’t get canceled,” said Suzanne La Grange while she waited in line next to Laurie Kress.
La Grange has been a fan since the band gained traction in 2009. She saw them once previously in Seattle, when they opened for U2. Kress would be seeing the band live for the first time Sunday.
While Kress and La Grange only drove a few minutes from their home to reach Ogren Park, Daniel and Kylie Olivas drove more than four hours from Idaho Falls. They shared an umbrella while they stood in line.
“If figures the rain decided to start as soon as we showed up,” said Kylie.