written by Dorothy St.Claire
The Arcata Theater is a nice little venue. There are multiple tiers, with tables and chairs at the higher levels. The venue had created an odd little rail in front of the stage by stacking chairs and pushing the stacks under the stage. It was weird, but it was nice - and it ended up being a necessary barrier for some of the crazier folks. I absorbed my last Brown Bird set, thoroughly enjoying what had come to be my favorite songs of theirs: "Fingers to the Bone", "Blood of Angels", "Bilgewater", and "Nothing Left". I came into this tour a little apprehensive about some unknown band opening for Yonder every night, and now I was coming to the end of the tour wishing for more.
After Brown Bird finished their set, we watched as the crew took down their gear. These guys worked for the theater, and were the slowest dudes you've ever seen. It took three of them at least five minutes to wind up the cords on stage. The look on Kevin's face as he watched them was priceless. Needless to say, when they were done doing... whatever it was they were doing, it only took Kevin a few minutes to do... everything else.
The show opened with Jeff and Dave singing "This Train is Bound for Glory", getting us started with a great gospel number. I walked through the crowd during "Loved You Enough" and "Rag Mama", and let me tell you, the B.O. in this room was so thick you could taste it. It buried itself in my hair, and clung to my clothes. I can handle a little body odor here and there, but this was ridiculous. The second thing that struck me about this crowd was how inconsiderate a great deal of them were. Hardly anyone I passed would let me through the crowd. They would look at me, look at my camera, and step in my way. They would turn their backs to me and dance harder. It was the most uncomfortable I have been at a show in quite a while, so I made my way back to my friends as fast as I could, through the non-obliging crowd.
I got comfortable, back in my spot next to Gregg, Nilima, Brian, and Rebecca, as "Northern Song" kicked into high gear. Adam rode this one like a runaway train, and it took my mind off of my negative experience in the crowd. Then Jeff brought out an oldie, "At the End of the Day". It felt like forever since the last time I heard this one, and we were all full of joy as we sang along. The musical mood changed drastically, with "Nothin' But Nothin'" next. The distortion at the end didn't die out, but instead changed its tone and turned into "I'd Like Off". Rebecca and I looked at each other and laughed, having talked about this song earlier in the day. The energy level and the audience's connection with the band dipped pretty low during this song. The crowd became more interested in each other, and it started to feel like we were just standing in the middle of a packed bar, with everyone yelling over each other. Thankfully "Red Rocking Chair" came through next and snapped people out of it (mostly). I can't believe they played this one three times on this tour and that I was there for each one. How does that happen? You barely ever hear a certain song, and then things just turn around and you get it all the time. I love it.
"Near Me" came next and was followed by "Not Far Away". This was another one that Colin and I didn't hear for over a year, and now this was twice for me on this tour. I freaking love "Not Far Away", and I was completely engrossed in each note that they played and each word that Ben and Jeff sang. "Hot damn, Arcata! Ya'll came out to party tonight, didn't ya? Let's see what you do with this." It was "Ten", and what we did with it was dance. Hard. This was the second time I heard this song on this tour, and both times Jeff sang the lyrics "mountain high, and river wide" an octave lower. It sounded good, but very different, with the lower notes not giving the same feeling to the words as the higher notes do. As the song fell into its groove, Adam took it away, solidifying his Spring Tour MVP status. The crowd went wild, and there were many times where I got sprayed with liquid... hopefully water, or at the worst, beer. I had to keep my camera safely tucked away for most of this show, because I never knew when we would get rained on. With a full, stand-alone "Ten", I thought it felt like the end of the set, a short set, yes... but it was not. "Boatman" finished out the set and brought the crowd to an even rowdier state before the band left the stage.
I visited with Scotty a little during the set break, and met Beau and Gentry from the local Kinfolk street team. It was pretty easy to get around now, because there was a strict non-smoking policy at this venue, and it seemed like damn near everyone went outside during the break. Maybe the B.O. wouldn't have been so noticeable if people could smoke something indoors. I mean, we were in Humbolt County, after all. I managed to get back to my spot with my Kinfolk friends before the venue filled back in, and we savored our last set break together.
A little more bluegrass was in the cards for tonight, and I was overjoyed to get "Walking Shoes". That made this the second show on this tour where I got "Walking Shoes" and "Red Rocking Chair" in the same show. How fun! "Kentucky Mandolin" came next, sliding everyone into the familiar groove of this old favorite instrumental. "New Horizons" came next, and knowing that they usually sandwich this song, and knowing that a sandwich at this point of the set usually means the end of the set, I started to mentally prepare myself for this final handful of songs. It gets harder and harder to face the end of a run of shows, and I was not ready to say goodbye just yet. I danced hard to "New Horizons", excited and curious for what would be the meat in the sandwich. Ben grabbed his bow and broke it down with Jeff before Adam changed it around and brought in "They Love Each Other". I was so happy to be with Gregg and Nilima for their song, but I was sad to be between two sets of couples (not to mention the couple that nearly started having sex on top of Gregg and Nilima) and not have Colin there with me. Maybe I wanted to make out, too. Oh well. Luckily, with the end of "TLEO", the make out couple left, and we were able to enjoy the rest of "New Horizons".
This show was... different. The band played great, like always, but were obviously distracted by the crowd. None of us could believe how crazy this crowd was. There was almost no connection between the audience and the band, and I think this was due to the widespread lack of consideration for each other. People spilled drinks on strangers without an apology, others hung on people and pulled on them without any sense of boundaries, and then there were the ones who would scream incessantly right in your ear, trying to yell at the band. I know what a lot of people would say, "It's a concert. That's how it is." Unfortunately, that's how it is at some shows. But that's not how it is at 90% of Yonder shows, and it really sucks when you find yourself stuck in one of these crowds. Of course, not everyone at this show was a jerk. There were plenty of wonderful people there, but the jerky ones are the ones that stood out and tainted our evening. I hate writing negative things about a Yonder show, but I can't lie and say that everything about this show was great. That being said, even the worst Yonder show is still a blast, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
|Yonder Mountain String Band|
4/18/12 Arcata Theatre, Arcata, CA
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