Music Farm - Charleston, SC (February 22, 2012)

written by Eric Martin

A couple friends and I pulled into Charleston pretty late, and from the parking garage next to the Music Farm, we could already hear the Stringdusters tearing the place up. We quickly made our way inside and caught the rest of their set. I can’t say it enough, these guys are awesome. The staff was very friendly and the venue was very relaxed, re-entry and all! So I ran back to the car after the Dusters and grabbed my camera, and headed back inside to see those Yonder boys!

The front of the venue was packed, and I knew I wouldn’t get a decent spot tonight. The guys came on in great spirits, and opened with “Steep Grade Sharp Curves”. Not my favorite, but I’ll take it. I’ll definitely take “Maid of the Canyon” anytime. I spent most of the first set running around taking different shots, both with my camera and at the bar, and trying to maze my way through another sold out Yonder show. By the time “How Bout You” and “Jail Song” were finished, I really had to pee. At the Music Farm, the bathrooms are at the front of the venue, right next to either side of the stage. It was very difficult to make your way through the door, and before I could get inside, I heard a familiar funky beat that pulled me right back into the crowd. “Althea” was a crowd pleaser, and what better to follow a Dead cover with than a Willie cover. Even though I was hoping for another “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys” this tour, I’m always happy with “Good Hearted Woman”. This one also kept me in the thick of things, dancing extra hard to keep my mind off my growing need to pee. When they started “Belle Parker” I could no longer take it. I made my way to the bathroom “line” of what appeared to be half the venue. The bad thing about the location of this bathroom is it’s near impossible to get to. The good thing is you can still hear the music very well. So when they started rockin' “Fingerprint” I made my way back outside. I headed back into the thick crowd, hoping to see at least one of the many friends I had lost earlier in the night. As "Fingerprint" swiftly turned into “Bolton Stretch”, I quickly forgot who or what I was looking for, and focused all my attention on the stage. Dave would keep me focused on the stage with “Red Tail Lights”.

I continued my search while they introduced Jeremy Garrett on fiddle and as they began a rollicking plucking and strumming of notes. Jeff whaled “well!” and I got a serious dose of de ja vu with the same “Rambler”> "Illinois Rain” sandwich I got last week in Pensacola. Only this sandwich was like a tastier, fresher, extra-fiddle version of what went down last week. It closed the show last week, and closed set 1 this week. During the extra fiddle sandwich, I found some of the folks I was looking for, and we took advantage of the re-entry policy during set break.

Now a few too many drinks into the night, and a full memory card anyway, I left the camera in the car for 2nd set, and I’m kinda glad I did, because 2nd set was a monster of a set. A scorcher. One of the better runs of songs I’ve seen this tour. The energy had started off big tonight and only grew more and more as the show went on. By start of second set, the crowd was getting rowdy and the energy was ready to blow the roof off this little venue. Very appropriately for this night, they would start off with “What the Night Brings”. Not sure how I got here, but I got her somehow.

Adam got us bouncing and singing with “Near Me”, and “Crooked Hitch” kept us bouncing around. So far that’s a pretty decent setlist if you ask me. The only thing missing so far was a good Ben song. Hmmm.

“Sometimes I’ve Won” do anything for ya? Now what’s missing? How about two guitars? Why not. Andy Falco would come out in his suit and to my sheer joy they would play the hell out of “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma”.  At this point I was thinking it could go 1 of 2 ways; only get more amazing, or they play “Rambler” again or something. Either way, I was walking out of there happy. After a 10+ minute “Oklahoma” Andy Falco walked off stage pretty happy himself. I love watching these guys jam with Yonder. Everyone is so excited to be onstage. It makes me so excited to be there! It’s all very exciting!

So we'd had a pretty killer set so far. As Andy walked off stage I had some time to reflect on what had gone down. We started with a great Jeff tune, a great Adam tune, a great Dave instrumental, a great Ben song and that awesome “Oklahoma”. What could possibly unify this crowd any more? As ben walked away from his bass and up to the mic and the lights went green, my question was answered. John Hartford. And some other stuff. It was Annie’s favorite, “Holdin”.

After that one my friends and I were in excellent spirits. I don’t even know what could make this show get better. It would have to be like, a song I love, that I’ve never seen before...  Enter “Old Plank Road”. Yes! No way they could top that. Unless they played another favorite I’ve never seen...  “Suspicious Minds”! At this point I didn't know what to think. These guys were in my head tonight. They were really bringing their A-game. “Kentucky Mandolin” came next, and it was a killer one! If I had to make any complaints about this setlist, it would be that none of the Dusters came out for this one, but I will never complain about this set. Now how could it possibly get any better? “Yes She Do, No She Don’t” would take care of that.

The first time I ever saw these guys they played this one, and Jeff introduced it saying something about losing his mind onstage for a living. I was happy to be losing my mind in the crowd tonight along with him. As the night went on, the Music Farm had come alive like never before. This was the rowdiest crowd I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in the best way possible. Everyone in the venue tonight was sucked in, completely focused on Yonder and loving every note, every single second of it. Plenty of wasted people and somehow no bad vibes. Just pure, musical, Yonder bliss. A bliss that could only be capped by something so powerful and energetic, something so rowdy and in-your-face, something so fun and epic, that the city of Charleston may never be the same. As the plucking and picking picked up it didn’t take the crowd too long to recognize the familiar riff that would be all those things and more, and the Music Farm started to rumble as “Traffic Jam” took off. I can’t be too sure, but I think right when “Traffic Jam” turned into “Whipping Post” was the exact moment the roof caved in at The Music Farm. Back into “Traffic Jam” to finish the set, and I was left jaw dropped, eyes wide, and hands on head, wondering if that really just happened.

Somehow though, it’s not enough. I crave more, more, more Yonder! All 9 of the Infamous Yonder Mountain Stringdusters came onstage for the encore, and it was another good one, “New Speedway Boogie”. Seeing all 9 of these guys play this was amazing! The crowd loved it and everyone was having a blast. Thankfully they provided us all with one more, just the fuel we needed for the Yonder-filled weekend ahead of us. The Dusters would stay on stage and help out with “You’re No Good”. A Dave song made the perfect ending to a spectacular night. The rowdy crowd took some time to dissipate and eventually the party was taken to the streets of Charleston. 

The city of Charleston will remember this night as the night it was forever changed. The night those bluegrass bands came to town.

Written by Eric Martin
Yonder Mountain String Band
2/22/12 Music Farm, Charleston, SC

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