Beacham Theatre - Orlando, FL (February 16, 2012)

written by Garth Wagner

Is there such a thing as an average Yonder show? What would that mean to you? I have been to a few shows that I thought were going to be average. Maybe due to the location, or the venue, or the crowd. When my family planned a trip to Orlando and they told me the dates, I was pretty excited knowing that the boys were going to be there at the same time. I assumed it would be an average show. And, it was. I also found out that an average show is what you should expect every time you see them. Average now means, to me, great set list and full of energy. They never ever disappoint. Ever.

I was lucky enough to live in Nederland when they started this whole thing. Seeing most of their first shows was a treat then and now. Of course they have gotten better over the years. But, they always had plenty of passion and energy, and still do.

I, like most of you love seeing them. LOVE!! I arrived at the Beacham Theater in time to claim my spot, first in line. Hung out there for about an hour before the doors opened. I knew I would be taking pictures for this blog and, as always, I just have to be in the front row even if my camera is not in tow.

The time for the doors to open arrives. I'm told I can't bring my camera in, I have to leave it in my car, they say. Well, I took a $60 cab ride to this show. Finally they let me in, and fortunately I still got my spot in front of David. I had to assure them I would not take my camera out of it's case. OK, no big deal, all that matters is I am here and in the front row.

The Beacham looks to be a pretty nice venue. Modern set up, lots of different bars, lots of staff. Pretty good size too. I never made it to the venue the band used to play in Orlando, The Social, which is right next door. Sounds like there is a difference in size and age of the venue's interiors. As show time approaches I notice that there is a decent amount of people in The Beacham, which is great for all. Turns out all those people came with energy and a true desire to get their groove on.

As the boys take the stage I feel that familiar feeling of, "Oh hell ya, here we go!!" Ben informs us how nice it is to be back on tour so he can get some rest. Something he never thought possible. Congrats to him and his new family.

They start off with a fitting, "What the Night Brings". My thoughts exactly. Not sure how I got here, but I got here anyhow. Then a nice oldie but goody, "Howard Hughes Blues", always a fun tune to hear. Jeff says the next song is going to last two minutes and one second. Turns out to be the fastest "Fastball" ever, at 56 seconds.

A great "Southbound" and "Pride of Alabama" follow. It's now that I start to realize maybe there isn't such a thing as an average Yonder show. Or, like I stated earlier, average just means kick ass. You have all been there, four or five nights in a row, a night off comes or it is time for you to end your tour, and you just are not ready to not see them. Being able to see them and rock out as hard as you can night after night becomes very addicting. Hence the kick ass part.

An awesome "Bloody Mary Morning" finds its way into the middle of the first set. I like surprises!! Seems like they have been doing this lately, taking songs that usually come out towards the end of a show and throwing them in the middle. Love it, keep it up!! "Steep Grades" follows and the sweat is certainly flowing at this point. Also at this point I notice there are a lot of cameras and cell phones pointed at the band. So, I break my promise to the staff of The Beacham. I bust out my camera and take advantage of Ted's great light show. I get some pretty good shots if I do say so myself. 

"Finally Saw the Light" keeps the radness coming. This is really a fun upbeat first set. They never cease to amaze me with how much fun and energy they throw at us, show after show. Dave's "Dominated Love Slave" doesn't let the boogie meter drop. Great to dance to and rather funny to boot. A nice "Rain Still Falls" and "Elzic's Farewell" let us catch our breath before they kill us with a rippin' "Sideshow Blues" to close the set. I'm soaked and happy. As is everyone from as far as I can tell.

The place is pretty full, but with four different bars and big bathrooms it doesn't seem packed. Plenty of room for the bone shaking, too. The crowd is nice and laid back, no need to battle for space which is always a bonus. Seeing as the crowd loved the first set and was rather loud upon the bands exit I am really looking forward to the second set. The band always likes to reciprocate. And they do.

Ben steps up and gets things started with a great "Criminal". You can tell he is excited to be singing this one; i.e. a large grin.

Once again they throw a show-ender at the beginning of a set. And, they go ahead and add something to the middle of it. Basically I am loosing my mind at this point. "Oklahoma" with a sick "Sidewalk Stars" back into "Oklahoma" gets the sweat dripping once again.

Lately I've been thinking that maybe they are playing too many Dead covers. Just my opinion. I love and miss the Dead a lot. And, they do a great job with the tunes they do cover. The great job trend continues with a really groovy "Althea". It is at this point that my picture taking for the night comes to an abrupt end. I notice two security staff members headed in my direction. And, it's at a fitting time too. There are things you can replace, and others you cannot, this space is getting hot!! My camera goes away, and stays away. That was way too close of a call. I can't imagine being booted from a Yonder show, I never want to find out what that feels like. Luckily those two staff members let me stay. After they leave my space, Jeff and KG are looking at me with the same look I would be giving myself. Lucky moron.

A few more oldies but goodies, "High on a Hilltop" and "Hill Country Girl" sound super crispy and clean. Great tunes to get their pick on. Another great tune "New Deal Train" follows. Sung with passion and meaning. Such good lyrics.

What comes next is something unique. A fast paced "Years with Rose". Man, this really got me going. One of my favorite tunes. And, this is the fastest I have ever heard it. And, once again they went ahead and gave us some jelly to go with the peanut butter. Throwing in a "Riverside" in the middle. A sick one too. I do love sandwiches!! And this one is so packed with funk and exhaustion-inducing dancing I need some water. Unfortunately Ben's bass bounced my water onto the floor a few songs ago. Really actually happened.

They won't let up, maybe they knew I thought this was going to be an "average" show. The deliver a sweet "40 Miles From Denver" into "Two Hits". Relentless might be a good way to describe them on this night. But wait, they are not done trying to kill me. "Hmmm, what could we throw at them now?" they ask themselves. How bout a smokin' "Raleigh and Spencer" to finsish them off? OK. Sounds great to me. And it was.

Except for one thing. And why would someone ever do this? Who thinks it's a good idea to chuck a glass at a band? Well, some asshole in Orlando I guess. Jeff got a good look at it as it whizzed by his head. Needless to say that was it. Luckily we got an encore. A very short but sweet "Ooh La La". Jeff was as far back on the stage as he could be, looking like he was ready to dodge a bullet from a well hidden sniper. A bummer of an ending to an incredible evening.

Looking back over the set list and listening to the show as I type, I feel as though I can't wait to see them again. Which is always the way I feel after getting to spend an evening with them. Average? Yep, keep em coming boys.

Written by Garth Wagner

Yonder Mountain String Band
2/16/12 Beacham Theatre, Orlando, FL

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