The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA (April 13, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

I would start and end this run on my own, but for these two nights in San Francisco it would be both me and Colin.  Colin flew in for the weekend, and I was so happy he was there with me.  Unfortunately, this Friday the 13th would not be my lucky day.  I awoke in Nevada with a splitting headache that turned into a full-fledged migraine by showtime.  Being at a show and in pain is still better than being in a hotel and in pain, so I sucked it up as much as I could and braved the bright lights, thick smoke, and loud loud music.  But not until after I watched my friends eat sushi.

Brown Bird opened the show again, but today was a little different because it was MorganEve's birthday.  What a way to spend a birthday!  Their set was great, but I only spent a couple songs taking photos, and spent the rest of their set taking a time-out upstairs.  I could already tell it would be a difficult evening, so I knew I needed to spend some time sitting and resting.

Yonder came to the stage, and Jeff held up his iPhone.  "We've got Sam on the phone, and we were wondering if you guys would sing Happy Birthday to Mr. Sammy Bush!"  It was a day full of birthdays, and the Fillmore audience sang their best "Happy Birthday" as they showed their excitement for the show that was soon to begin.  "Hill Country Girl" started Yonder's first set, surprising me a little as I took photos in the pit.  "Looking Back Over My Shoulder" came next, and I became entranced in the colors and the music.  

Having a migraine during a show sucks.  Having a migraine while photographing a show still sucks, but can also be very interesting.  I don't get auras with my migraines, but my vision still becomes impaired.  I just see things differently.  My perspective seems to change, and depth perception all but disappears. Sometimes colors are overly saturated.  Sometimes it's just the opposite, and colors become dull and muted and blend together.  Honestly, I was physically miserable, but I feel like I was actually able to capture some of what I saw at this show, which makes it all worth it.  

"Left Me in a Hole" was the third song of the night, and my last song down front taking photos.  Well, besides a feeble attempt during "Dreams" later in the set.  My favorite thing - the bass - became my worst enemy.  I never wear earplugs (yes, I know I really need to start), but I had to tonight.  Still, the bass thundered through, shaking my brain inside of my skull.  How could the music I love cause me so much pain?  I went upstairs and took a few photos as Dave sang "Don't Worry Happy Birthday", and I fell into the groove of this wonderful new song.  Sometimes the groove is enough to forget about the headache.  But then the song ends, and it's right there again.  I went back downstairs, put my camera away, and got settled in my rail spot with my Kinfolk as they played a fast-ass "Maid of the Canyon".  I had my eyes closed for most of this show, and Jeff's playing during this one made me picture a shook up snow globe, with the snow swirling around with nowhere to go but in circles.  The show slowed down with "Dreams", which was also when I tried to take some photos.  There aren't many songs where all four guys sing together, so I like to capture it when I can.  

They didn't wait for the end of "Dreams" to register with the audience, but jumped right into "Bolton Stretch".  I loved it, and bounced slowly and steadily as those surrounding me stomped their feet on the ground and waved their arms in the air. I swear, I was doing that on the inside.  That velvet queen of New Orleans, "Belle Parker" was next; letting me sink deeper into my groove.  "Criminal" came and funked the place up, then Jeff started playing at the melody of the next song before everyone joined in and rocked "Little Rabbit".  I really think this was the best "Little Rabbit" I've ever seen.  Adam was almost dancing, it was so good.  And as it ended, the lights went low, and it went straight into "No Expectations".  I closed my eyes and vibrated with the bow on the bass, feeling every note.  There was no time for any more chit chat between songs, so "Northern Song" took over next.  It was such a good one, too.  Everyone was great tonight, but I think it was really Adam's night.  There was one point where he was walking across the stage and soloing and feeling the song with every step and every note.  If I saw these great things in the short times where I opened my eyes, think of all that I missed!

The set break came, and I knew I couldn't last.  Colin escorted me upstairs, where Ted was gracious enough to give me a chair in his light booth.  They put him in a little box at the Fillmore, and you can see the band through a plexiglass window.  I got comfortable, and when the band came to the stage, I felt like I was watching Jeff sing "Too Late Now" on TV.  It was so bizarre.  I closed my eyes, and found that it was so much easier to chair dance than foot dance in my current condition. "Mother's Only Son" started, and I watched Ted splash the lights over the crowd in a wave.  I picked out my friends dancing down there, and could feel the happiness coming from the whole floor.  As "MOS" cruised into its steady rhythm, I got completely absorbed by the music, and one by one, Dave, Adam, and Jeff took their solos.  The rhythm of this song was so comforting at that moment, that I could have listened to this song for the rest of the set.  Of course, it had to come to an end.  

"All the Time" came next, and I wished I was down front with Alison as she danced to her favorite song.  Then it was time for Ben's "new" song, "Straight Line", and afterwards he asked all of our permission to play some bluegrass music.  Dave picked the intro, and I couldn't believe my ears.  They were playing "If I Lose".  Really?  Now?  I hadn't heard this song since Fall 2010, and even though I was in pain, I chair danced as hard as I could.  Ted must have noticed my enthusiasm, because after cursing the band for not giving him any time between "If I Lose" and "Don't You Lean On Me", he handed me his earbuds.  If I thought the show was surreal before, now I was in a completely different world.  I was listening to the soundboard of the show... LIVE!  It sounded so good.  I watched Dave sing through our little window, and when the song was finished I was able to clearly hear him say "Aw shucks, you can lean on me if you really have to."  It was so cool, and was a terrific distraction from my migraine.  

It sounded like they were going to start "Elzic's", but I guess I was just crazy, because they came through with a fiery and fast "Casualty".  I closed my eyes, and listening to the show through Ted's earbuds, I felt like I could have been on an airplane, listening to my latest show on the way home.  At times, I felt like I was anywhere but a live Yonder show.  It was truly a surreal experience.  After "Casualty" Jeff said, "If that's not a direct transfer of energy, I don't know what is." "Yeah, you guys are doing pretty good tonight." Ben replied.  I sure wished I was down there.  I could feel some of that energy up in the booth, but I knew it had to be pulsating down on the floor.  Adam sang "Jail Song", then it was time to give Ted his earbuds, for he had a big chunk of music coming up.  "Cuckoo's Nest" started the last bit of music, and I knew my girls were dancing their booties off down front.  "Snow On the Pines" came right out of "Cuckoo's", and I just groaned. It was spectacular, but I felt so disconnected from the show and from my Kinfolk.  I had to just close my eyes and enjoy it from this different perspective.  "Snow" got really heavy, with Jeff's foot glued to his pedal as Ben's bass drove into us all.  "If you don't believe..." I almost couldn't believe it.  Jeff's taunts led "Snow" into "Riverside" and I was in shock.  Ever since I've known Dale, she has always wished for a "Snow"> "Riverside"> "Snow" sandwich, and now it was happening.  As one song switched to the next, Ted roused me from my meditation to watch the change in the lights and the change in the crowd.  Wow.  There are some drawbacks to being all the way in the back, but the view of the lights is definitely not one of them. That's what we miss out on the most, standing on the rail night after night.  Ted is a master, and watching his enthusiasm while he works is inspiring.  I could only watch for a minute before I closed my eyes and fell back into my Yonder meditation, sinking deeper into the music as "Riverside" went back into "Snow on the Pines", and then surprised everyone by going into "Angel".  I must confess, I sneaked a peak at Ted's setlist during "Riverside"... and "Angel" was not on there. An interesting add-on, I thought.  

The set finished, the band left the stage, and I started to mentally prepare myself for the end, and having to actually walk out of The Fillmore.  "If you've got it in you, we've got it in us.  So, let's party!" Jeff said with a smile in his voice as they came back to the stage.  For once, I really don't have it in me, but I can hear that everyone else does as they play an especially long "New Speedway Boogie".  They weren't ready to leave us yet, however, so "Troubled Mind"> "20 Eyes"> "Troubled Mind" closed the show.  

As I listen to this show again, I'm amazed by how great of a show it is, and how odd my experience was.  I've been to shows with a migraine before, but this was by far the most severe.  It affected my night in so many ways, but besides the pain, it was really interesting.  I saw the show differently and had a completely new experience than I ever had before.  When I'm in that much pain, I have to find one thing to put all of my focus in, one thing to mediate on, and this time it was Yonder. Once again, many thanks go to my friends who put needles in my head, massaged my neck, brought me cokes and waters, and took care of me all night. And especially to Ted, for letting me into his little world and seriously saving the day.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/13/12 Theatre, San Francisco, CA

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1 comment:

  1. "I closed my eyes, and found that it was so much easier to chair dance than foot dance in my current "

    See it is nice to close your eyes and just listen to the music play.
    you are one tough amazing young woman


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