Red Rocks Amphitheater - Morrison, CO (August 20)

Oh, Red Rocks.  How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  I love the beauty and the majesty of Red Rocks.  I love the mix of people that come together for a show at Red Rocks.  And I love being with my friends on their first trip to Red Rocks.  Our first time coming to this amazing venue was in 2005, and we have been back every year since.  Summer is not complete without a show at Red Rocks, and this being the end of Yonder's Summer Tour, it was the perfect way to end our summer of shows.  

When the tour dates for this summer were released, we weren't the only ones who were shocked and in disbelief over the announcement of a Red Rocks show without a Denver or Boulder show the night before.  How could they do this to us? But they made up for it by doing such a fun little midwest run leading up to Red Rocks, and giving us a day off for driving and recuperating before the big day. After all, it would have been a real pain driving from Omaha to get to a show in Colorado that night.  

Our caravan for Red Rocks left Fort Collins fairly early, but it was soon clear that the interstate was a very very bad choice.  We managed to exit the highway before the traffic got to its worst, and found a back way into Morrison.  It still took us much longer to get there than it should have, but we made it a lot quicker and easier than many of our friends.  It turns out that a semi got wedged underneath the C-470 bridge over I-70, closing west-bound traffic on I-70.  What a pain.

Once we got to Red Rocks, parked our cars, and stretched our legs, we were ready to relax and enjoy some good scenery, good company, and good music.  I usually don't wander around the parking lots very much, in an effort to conserve my energy for the rush up the ramp, but this time was different.  Junkyard, Annie, and I took a walk from the upper south lot all the way down to the box office and back, just as the rest of our friends made the mad dash up the ramp and inside to secure our spots.  It was a beautiful walk, even though I got a little overheated and more than a little winded.  

The Infamous Stringdusters were already playing when we got in the venue.  We were sad that we missed the beginning, but we luckily didn't miss much.  I always love seeing these guys.  They are all so talented and obviously really enjoy what they do.  This set in particular was different from other times I have seen them... a lot more funky.  I don't really know what it was, but it was amazing.  I would have loved it if they played for another hour, but, oh well.

Railroad Earth was next, and very loud.  The show sold out the day of, and my theory is that it was because of Railroad Earth.  It was so absolutely packed in there by the time they started playing, that a few of us had to leave our seats and go wander around to avoid the crazed fans.  They played as the sun set and the stage lights started swirling around, and as they finished up their set, the anticipation became tangible and we eagerly awaited the arrival of Yonder Mountain to the Red Rocks stage.  

This was my first show at Red Rocks with a photo pass, and as I stood in the photo pit amongst all of the other photographers with their huge lenses and multiple cameras strapped to their bodies, I felt my nerves start to rise to the surface.  But then the boys came out, and the nervousness I had felt about shooting such a big show melted away.  Sure, it was Red Rocks, but it was also just another Yonder show, and one way or another I have been shooting Yonder shows for years.  As I put the camera to my glasses and started clicking away, they roared right into "What the Night Brings", and although there were thousands of people behind me, the energy felt like any other small, intimate Yonder show.  

"Night Out" was next, and I absolutely loved it.  Adam and Jeff singing together on this song is one of my favorite things.  Ben was the next to sing, belting out "Criminal", the last song for us photographers to do our thing.  It was fun being up there taking photos, but I like being limited on my time in the pit, because I can get it done, put my gear away, and then dance with my friends for the rest of the show.  

In true Red Rocks fashion, Dave was up next with "Easy as Pie".  Sweet!  We never hear this song, and it was such a nice change of pace.  "Pretty Daughter" was a song that Colin and I were waiting and waiting to hear all week, but knowing how popular of a new song it was for the band, we figured they would probably save it for Red Rocks... and we were right!  Of course, they rocked it, as usual.  Ben switched basses as he told us all about his childhood dream of playing electric bass at Red Rocks - which he played during "Complicated".  I think this is a great Red Rocks song.  It's the type of song that is meant to be sung to a huge crowd; almost an arena-rock ballad type of song.  Jeff dedicated the next song to Ron Santo and "all of you beautiful ladies and how lovely you move around Red Rocks tonight".  "Ten"> "Shake Me Up"> "Ten" was what we got, and I'll take that any day. As the band took a little breather to tune up, Ben asked the crowd to make some noise.  "Not bad, considering none of you have microphones."  "Town" was next, followed by "Spanish Harlem Incident", which was followed by a pretty exciting announcement... a 5 night New Years run at the Boulder Theater.  Wow.  We had heard this rumor, but obviously didn't believe it could be true until we heard an official confirmation.  As our minds were still reeling from the announcement, we danced to Dave's "Little Lover", followed by "Little Rabbit" and "Sideshow Blues" to finish the first set.

Coming back out for the second set, Jeff asked, "Are you still with us?  Yes, we are still so with you."  They opened the set with a super distorted "East Nashville Easter", following it with "Finally Saw the Light".  After Jeff joked about not knowing what day it was, Adam played one of his newer songs, "All the Time".  So good! Now, I'm not sure how I didn't notice it sitting on stage, but Dave picked up the stump and picked and sang us through a killer "Just the Same".  This is such a great song, and the last time we heard it Dave didn't have the stump and used his old banjo instead.  It just didn't sound right.  It was good to have the stump back. Jeff took the lead again with "Too Late Now", and this is one of those songs that I'm not that excited about when it starts, but as it progresses I remember how great it is.  All of us who spend so much time on the road seeing music can definitely relate to the lyrics, and there's just a great energy to the song.  It's also one of those songs that has that little something that I love that just makes it so much better... Ben's bass.  Particularly during Dave's solo before the last verse of the song.  It's the simple things in life.

"Pockets" came before Jeff's introduction of the next couple songs, "Hey Ben, will you tell me just a little part of a story?"  "There once was a little bluegrass band from Nederland... and his name was Yonder Mountain String Band."  "Part One"> "On the Run" was the portion of the Sherif Saga that they decided to give us.  And this was a particularly good "On the Run".  Before singing "Rain Still Falls" with Adam, Ben joked that Adam stole the song from him and Jeff.  Funny Ben, funny. But then it was Ben's turn to sing another of his songs, an old number called "40 Miles From Denver", which Jeff dedicated to all the folks who got stuck on I-70 on their way to the show.  Before the last sandwich of the show, Jeff gave us all his love and appreciation, and thanked us for keeping them going.  "Keep on Going"> "Dawn's Early Light"> "Robots"> "2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown"> "Keep on Going" ended the second set.  And it was amazing.  One of the best sandwiches ever.  And "Dawn's Early Light" is one of my all-time favorite songs, so it's always nice to hear that one.  But I think Adam should bring back the Metallica tease before he starts "Dawn's"... just sayin'.  

As we waited for the boys to come back out for the encore, I thought about the night's show.  After years of seeing Yonder at Red Rocks, this was already my favorite time.  The setlist and the relaxed way they played made it feel like a small, intimate show, which are usually my favorite.  They didn't do anything extra to try to make the show more "special", they just came out as they always do and rocked our socks off.  They solidified my opinion of the show with their encore of "Southern Flavor" and "Shady Grove".  Perfect.  Thank you Yonder, for another great tour, ending with another great Red Rocks show.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
8/20/11 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO

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