When I heard that Yonder was going to play Bell's Brewery this summer, I jumped on tickets. I had never had the pleasure of going to Bell's for a show, so when my Mom (YonderMom to some, Lisa to others) and I made the short 4 hour drive, we were both very excited. We were off to Bell's quite early, hoping to find some bottled beer not available in Indianapolis and dinner. The venue itself was exactly what I expected, awesome beer garden and funky stage, and plenty of indoor bar space to roam. We spent about 20 minutes in the "General Store" looking for t-shirts and checking out the beer, and then we were off to dinner. We were expecting sit down service, but found that at Bell's, you order your food, pick it up, and find a nice place to sit. We sat outside in the blazing sun and heat so that we could check out what was going on near the stage. We were able to hear Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman (of Greensky Bluegrass) do their soundcheck. There was a little confusion about where to line up and where to get will call tickets, but Bell's ran things pretty smoothly overall.
It's always a treat when Yonder has an opener, and Anders and Paul of Greensky really got the night off to a great start, and got the crowd into the fun mood early. As Yonder hit the stage at 8:15pm, the crowd was already full of energy and ready to go. And with a fast and furious "Hill Country Girl" opener, the stage was set for a wonderful show. I've always loved "Hill Country Girl" as an opener, it sets a very energetic tone for the whole show. "River" was next, one of mine and Mom's favorites. It always reminds me of some time that I spent on the banks of a very special river in Colorado. "Amanda Rose," followed. This song is always a treat, and Adam sang it beautifully, coupled with his intermittent harmonica solos. "Too Late Now" brought the energy back up quickly, and Jeff never disappoints on this tune. I absolutely love when a Yonder show starts with a bang and then slows down a bit for some beautiful tunes, only to speed back up before you even know what hit you. This was one of these shows. One of my favorite Dave tunes, "Wind's On Fire," was next. I hadn't heard this powerful song live in awhile, and was so stoked when it came along. But Dave didn't stop there, and busted out an awesome performance of his banjo tune, "Easy as Pie" next. Following "Easy as Pie" was Ben's "Complicated," and the Minutemen cover "Corona." The first set ended with an energy packed "New Horizons > They Love Each Other > New Horizons." Anders and Paul joined Yonder for this last segue. Jeff couldn't stop raving about Anders' awesome dobro skills throughout the evening. As a side note, it sprinkled just a tiny bit during "New Horizons" and after the first set, proof that the bluegrass gods were probably paying attention.
After a nice long set break, the crowd remained prepared for whatever Yonder was going to dish out, and no one was disappointed by one of the best second sets I've had the pleasure of seeing. Anders Beck played the entire second set with the boys, and it was a real treat to have a gooey extra layer of dobro for good measure. Ben's "Blue Collar Blues" kicked it off, and the crowd sang along. (I always assume most everyone is picturing a job they've had at some point during this song). Next was Adam's newer tune "Pockets" which I really enjoyed and have not REALLY listened to much outside of a live Yonder show. I need to give it a much closer listen, because it really is an awesome little tune."Red Rocking Chair" followed by the Dylan cover "It Takes A Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" were great, and I don't think I could ever get tired of hearing those two. "Out of the Blue," Ben's "Things You're Sellin'," and "Another Day" followed and the positive energy of the second set continued. Good energy and a really great crowd made this show one to remember. Jeff sang an emotionally loaded cover of the Beatles' song "It's All Too Much" next, and being in the front, I felt so much energy lifting up for Lilli during this song. Jeff was obviously emotional during this tune, and I'm sure the whole crowd sensed it and sent energy his way and up to Lilli. Since her 4th birthday was Monday (the next day), I think the line "All the world, is birthday cake..." was especially moving. Not to mention, there was a group of wonderful kinfolk in pink tutus, dancing their booties off in Lilli's honor. After an emotional song, Jeff raced into his new tune "One More," which I had not yet heard live, but boy, it's a good and funky one for sure. The sweet new tune "Shake Me Up" followed. And oh, at this point, Yonder really let loose and finished up the second set with an ass-kickin "Death Trip > If You're Ever in Oklahoma." I hadn't heard "Death Trip" in a few shows, and "Oklahoma" is never disappointing. The crowd was bouncing up and down in a frenzy. The encore was awesome too (of course). "Crow Black Chicken" kicked it off, and for some odd reason, no matter how many times I hear it, this song always makes me giggle...oh never mind. "Hit Parade of Love" finished off the show, and I couldn't think of a better way to finish off a roller coaster ride of a show, filled with emotion, rump shakin', and a beautiful half moon shining over the lovely town of Kalamazoo. (And if you're curious, yes, my 50-something Mom held her own all night on the rail, and I cherish every time I get to see a Yonder show with her and boogie next to her all night!)
Written by Chelsea Welker
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
7/10/11 Bell's Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI
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