Orpheum Theater - Madison, WI (March 3, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Already, a year had passed since Yonder's last trip to Madison; and already Cabin Fever Tour 2012 was coming to a close.  As had become custom, this Cabin Fever was filled with ups and downs, but everything was coming together perfectly for the last two nights, starting at the Orpheum.  As we waited in line, Ted and Rob came out and gave us the scoop on the new stage.  Up until very recently, the stage was at least 8 feet tall, making the floor space in front a place for dancing, not viewing the band.  The best spot in the house was the front row of the balcony.  Now we were being informed that the stage was rebuilt to a normal height of maybe 4 feet, and that we had a real rail down front.  It didn't take us long to decide where we'd be going tonight, and once inside I found myself Dave side with a kick ass crew of Kinfolk, ready to get down.  

The Infamous Stringdusters opened for Yonder for the last time on this tour, and they played a really amazing set.  It was filled with a lot more slow songs than usual, and it was a fantastic way to say goodbye to all of the Kinfolk who had been on this tour for multiple shows.

"We like what they've done with the place."  Adam said, able to see everyone up front as Yonder came out and tuned up.  It was a packed, sold-out show, and the party started with "Traffic Jam"> "Shake Me Up"> "Traffic Jam".  This was Colin's first show since the tour opener in Fayetteville, where Travis Book filled in for Ben and sang "Traffic Jam", so it was neat that it was the opening song and we got a little Ben love right off the bat.  I also thought Dave really stood out during this one, only reinforcing our belief that Dave has been rocking it extra hard lately.  

"Speak to me, Jeff, of the celestial bodies." Dave said as Jeff was air-bombed with a "Jeff Austin for President" shirt.  He didn't necessarily agree with the shirt, and went on to sing "Half Moon Rising".  Adam sang "Skulls" next, taking all of us completely by surprise.  Oh, and I ruined this song for even more people, pointing out that it sounds like Adam's singing "scones" instead of "skulls".  Makes me hungry.  Then Adam pointed out that if you make a song into a bluegrass song, it will sound happy, even when there's nothing happy about that song.  "Let's play the pampers off this pretty little pucker." Dave said as he started "Loved You Enough". Thank you for playing this one on every jaunt I've done on this tour. What a great song.  I have some of my best show memories from this tour during this song.  And Dave shredded it every time.  

Ben was then introduced as the newest Yonder dad, to which he replied, "Thank you, he was a lot of fun to make."  "Someday's Reunion" came next, after which the lights turned green, Ben put his bass down, and sang "Holdin'".  After "Holdin'" it was time to bring out a second banjo, and Chris Pandolfi joined them on stage. Jeff started playing softly, with Dave soon joining in, just tickling the strings.  Adam came in and brought us into a calming and peaceful "Midwest Gospel Radio".  This song is so beautiful and makes you just want to be sappy and hug everyone and tell them you love them.  Maybe even sway a bit.  Tonight's "Gospel" spoke of the magic of the midwest, and of how growing up in the midwest is absolutely the best. I would have to agree.  As I was groovin' through this song, it started to change and I thought I must be going crazy.  It couldn't be what I thought, could it?  Holy smokes, it was.  "All Too Much" roared out of "Midwest Gospel Radio" and I was so happy I could have cried.  This is one of those covers that I have waited and waited to hear, and I finally got it tonight.  "All the world is birthday cake.  So take a piece, but not too much."  That was it for me.  The set ended with an upbeat "What the Night Brings", and I was as happy as could be going into the set break.

Jeremy Garrett came out with the band as the second set began with a bouncing "Boatman", which went into "Bolton Stretch" before Jeremy left the stage.  "Little Lover" came next, with Dave telling Adam that he had finally settled on a second verse. All of the options I've heard have been pretty sweet, so I don't really care which he settles on, or even if he settles on one at all.  A killer "One More" was followed by "Things You're Selling", which Ben dedicated to all of the lost cleavage due to the lower height of the new stage.  Adam sang "Jail Song", then welcomed Andy Falco to the stage where we all joined in a boogie and a toast with "Ramblin' in the Rambler".  This was actually my first "Ramblin'" of the tour, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  

I also thoroughly enjoyed what came next; a juicy and dark "Riverside".  This version had a lot more of Jeff's scary voice than normal, leading me to think Hines was having an extra fun time tonight.  Adam and Andy took this song to a whole new level, soloing back and forth, and I felt like I was hearing it for the very first time.  Jeff's rant turned into a "You and I" chant that got everyone in a frenzy before going into some dark and scary places, then bursting out with his solo, complete with the pickaxe and the switchblade.  Sometimes I worry that we are all so happy to dance to such a murderous song, but then I stop worrying and dance. Because it's a great song.  Before we knew it, it kicked back into "Rambler", and we were all very happy to have been taken on such a fun ride.  "Falco!" Dave grumbled into the mic as Andy left the stage, and before starting the next song, Adam said "From time to time, we're still considered a bluegrass band".  They busted out "Big Spike Hammer", a bluegrass song we hadn't heard for quite some time.  

Next, it was even MORE bluegrass, with the great "Country Boy Rock and Roll". Hell yeah.  After that bluegrass burst, it was time to get funky again with a nice "Criminal".  This set was really getting long, but they weren't done yet.  Andy Hall came out as they started their last big chunk of music with an energetic "Oklahoma".  Andy killed it on this one, but he fits in so well with Yonder that he makes every song he sits in on that much better.  As "Oklahoma" grew and morphed, we heard Jeff say "Hello", and we found ourselves in a heavy "King Ebenezer" before "Oklahoma" and set two came to an end.  

Since this was the last night with The Stringdusters, they had to have a nice big Yonder/Dusters encore.  Everybody came out, giving us a 20-minute encore of "Come Together" and "My Gal".  I had already seen them pull each of these songs out somewhere during my Asheville/Knoxville trip, but Colin had missed those shows.  Now he got to see this awesome jam-tacular machine that is the Infamous Yonder Mountain Stringdusters Band.  

"My Gal" was so fun, and it was the perfect way to end the night.  My favorite part was when Dave put his banjo down and was Pandolfi's left hand.  Dave side never disappoints.  

I love Wisconsin, especially Madison, and this was yet another spectacular trip to one of our favorite places.  We came together with a huge bunch of Midwest Kinfolk, and when Midwest Kinfolk get together, you'd better watch out... because you're going to have the best time of your life.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
3/3/12 Orpheum Theatre, Madison, WI

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