The Tabernacle - Atlanta, GA (February 12) E.F.

Well, well, well, folks. Is it any surprise what a show we were treated to in Hotlanta? I was glad to be back at the Tabernacle, one of my favorite venues, and was welcomed by friendly faces in a crowd that was happy to make some room for ya. It's not often you get to watch a show in a place where strangers will "hold your spot" while you go to grab a beer–something you'll surely want to do, the way the Sweetwater flows in Atlanta.

In what was surely one of the best shows of the tour, the guys soaked up some of that Southern hospitality and threw the good energy right back at us. Even after opening with "No Expectations," they went above and beyond mine. For two full (and I mean FULL!) sets, the heat didn't let up. Despite Dave's casted fingers, which have put him a step or two behind the usual pace, especially during solos like in "East Nashville Easter," the rest of the band knew how to fill in those missing notes like a good team should. Not long after, he redeemed himself with a rendition of "Big Spike Hammer" that was as seamless as ever. The crowd really began to pick up their feet for the old tune, "Hit Parade of Love," and kept it up through the sweet harmonizing of "Sangaree," and "Lord Only Knows."

Things got a little darker as Adam flowed into the intro of instrumental "Polly Put the Kettle On," and primed us for the boxcar ride of "Rambler's Anthem." With "At the End of the Day" as a bit of a breather, we gathered our energy. A smooth transition from "Night Out," led into a beautiful and unusual vocal intro to "Boatman," a high-energy set closer that had the whole room singing along and swinging their partners.

With smiles on our faces we took a short break, and overheard comments like "they always bring it in Atlanta." I made my way from front and center to the balcony to join some good old friends. "Wooping" our way into the second half of the night, the boys continued to pick up speed with a little "Fastball" teaser. Mellow and feeling at home, "You Left Me in a Hole," had the crowd singing along all the way through. The energy was no less up top, and jumping, skipping, clapping our hands I was afraid we might bring the whole balcony down.

Blazing through the second set, tunes like "Ripcord Blues," and "Town" kept us dancing. Then, to our utmost surprise and delight, a familiar riff reached our ears and if you weren't paying attention before, you sure were now. The band cranked out a lightning version of "Come Together," a surefire highlight of the night. Ben thanked the ever-so-lovely Tabernacle audience, and they lost no steam after that, plowing through "Casualty" and "Out of the Blue" into an almost-nine-minute "Kentucky Mandolin" dirty enough to make you blush. (Thanks to Ben for the nastiest of bass solos.)

And what can I say? As shouts of "thank you" rose from the crowd, from "Little Maggie" to "Snow on the Pines" through "Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie," we all boogied. Hoodies were tied around waists and sweat fell from many-a-forehead. We were reminded of just how bad ass each of us is as we sang along to "King Ebenezer," proclaiming "I'm a high-stepping, sharp-dressing mother f*cker, friends I swear I'm the king of it all!" Slaves to sound, we got lost in the jam that followed, forgot where we were, and found ourselves before we knew it right back at "Snow on the Pines," and into "Little Maggie," again to end the second set with a laugh.

As the Tabernacle begged for more, the boys came back on, offered some sincere thanks to "one of our favorite home away from homes," and proceeded to "Tear Down the Grand Ole Opry," a bluesy little number to prepare us for the coming closer. Dedicated to each and every one of us freaks, "Sideshow Blues" was the fire one would expect in Hotlanta.

With energy bouncing from fan to fan, from crowd to band and back again, this tour's stop at the Tabernacle was exactly the type of show we hope for when we go to see Yonder Mountain String Band, and the kind that keeps us coming back for more.

Written by Elena Fodera

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/12/11 The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

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