Pabst Theater - Milwaukee, WI (November 11)

November 11, 2011.  It was a fun date, which called for a fun show.  What else would you expect from Yonder at the Pabst?  We had a longer than usual wait for the show; first we waited at the back entrance (out of the cold), then we waited for another hour at the next set of doors inside the theater while the Pabst had a free beer tasting.  And of course, there was the wait once we got in and found our spots.  It was a long time to just stand around, but at least we were warm and with our friends.  By this point in our trip I was pretty exhausted and wasn't feeling the energy I needed for a Yonder night.  Luckily, that didn't last, and by a couple songs into the first set I had completely forgotten how crummy I had felt all day.

Before the show even started, the Pabst was packed so full that I knew there was no way I was running around this venue, but I was perfectly content to hold down my usual spot.  The band came out, greeted everyone, and started the show with "Fastball" to make sure we were all awake and ready, then played "Death Trip" to really make sure they had our full attention.  "Ripcord Blues" came next, and was the first repeat of our run.  Hell, I'll always take another "Ripcord Blues".  "Wisconsin is a no-fail state for Yonder Mountain String Band" Adam said to an audience erupting in screams at the mere mention of their state.  He then sang "Near Me" before a fun "Freeborn Man"> "Suspicious Minds"> "Freeborn Man" sandwich. I love when they play "Wheel Hoss" inside "Freeborn Man", but I also love when they mix it up and give us something unexpected.  "Northern Song" came next, with the now customary Dave-side jam.

Before starting the last chunk of music before the set break, Jeff took a moment to thank our veterans, and two people in particular: his grandfather, Stanley Goff, and our Kinfolk brother, Zach Hightower.  That was a pretty awesome moment, seeing all the love surrounding Zach.  They then busted out an unbelievable "Jesus On the Mainline"> "The Eleven"> "Jesus On the Mainline".  Yes, I said "The Eleven".  As they started playing it, I watched each of the boys, looking for clues as to who would be singing this new cover.  I found my clue when I looked to Dave and saw him pick up a sheet of paper.  But in true Dave fashion, this cover would be anything but predictable, and ended up being spoken-word.  What an awesome way to celebrate 11/11/11, and our friend Noah's birthday and 111th Yonder show.

The second set started with "Bolton Stretch" into a song on Annie's wish list, "Polly Put the Kettle On".  "Polly" is such a great instrumental song; another song that has a hardcore driving beat that makes the crowd pulsate.  "Illinois Rain" made us all jump and dance even faster, and "Part One" brought us all together to sing and dance to a song that never ceases to touch something deep down within.  "Part One" then moved into "High Cross Junction", and we were happy to get a little chunk of sherif saga songs together.  "Too Late Now" came next, and lately this song really touches and moves me.  Maybe it's that the lyrics hit home more than ever these past couple years, maybe I'll never put my finger on it, but whatever it is, this song makes me so happy to live the life I'm living and to get to have these amazing experiences all over the country with so many wonderful, beautiful people.  Dave sang "Deep Pockets" next, and had so much fun with it that he had the crowd going wild.  "I wish my baby cooked good pork chops, those greasy southern kind, I'd kiss her in the kitchen, and I'd kiss her sweet..."  And he rocked his solo after screaming "Lumpy!"  Yeah, it was that kind of night.

A couple fun surprises were next - "Corona" and "Naughty Sweetie".  We don't hear these songs very often and they're both so fun, and I love the lyrics to "Naughty Sweetie".  "Ten" kicked off another big sandwich of the night that went into a super funky "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", then into a super creepy "Follow Me Down to the Riverside".  Yes, this song is always creepy, but this was one of those that really stands out.  They finished the sandwich with the end of "Ten", and before we could think that the set was over, Ben busted out the infamous bass line of "2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown" and the Pabst got smokey for one last time.  As the band left the stage, we all cheered as hard as we could, bringing together all of the amazing energy of the night into one big ball, letting the band know exactly how we felt.  

The band came back out to the stage, I saw Ben putting on the electric bass, and I was a little disappointed that they were going to play "Complicated" during the encore.  I must admit, I didn't like this song all that much in the beginning, but it has grown on me a lot, and now I find myself rocking out every time they play it... but it's not really an encore song.  Luckily, it wasn't the only encore song and they finished the night with "Spanish Harlem Incident".  Hell yes.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
11/11/11 Pabst Theater, Milwaukee, WI

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