The Fillmore - San Francisco, CA (April 14, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

10 years and 125 shows.  Today was a big day for me and Colin.  It was our 10 year anniversary, and we both hit 125 Yonder shows.  We have both seen shows without each other, so it was pretty incredible that our numbers would match up for these two nights in San Francisco.  Night one was pretty rough for me, so we took the day slowly, and by the time we got in line with our friends, we were both ready for a big night.

Once again, Brown Bird rocked.  This was my seventh show on Spring Tour, which meant it was my seventh time seeing Brown Bird.  By now, I was becoming very familiar with their songs, and had picked a few as my favorites.  "Fingers to the Bone", "Bilgewater", "Blood of Angels", "Nothing Left" and "Cast No Shadow" were all played, and I loved every minute of it.  MorganEve's fiddle during "Cast No Shadow" brought forth a feeding frenzy of fiddle-hungry concert-goers, while David's steady beat, thrashing guitar, and strong voice led us in a gypsy-inspired dance.  

The stage was switched around nice and quick and a half hour or so later, Yonder Mountain hit the stage.  "Well hello again, everybody!" Jeff said, as they all tuned up for another rockin' night at The Fillmore.  I heard it coming... "Pretty Daughter" opened the set.  You know it's going to be a great show when they open with this one.  Everyone danced hard, showing the boys that we were ready for a big night. By the time the song finished, people were already getting sweaty.  

Before the start of the next song a couple of us were laughing and joking together, so I was caught completely by surprise when I looked up and saw Ben talking to me and Colin.  "So good to be back here, what a great day.  Got some good friends over here that are having a ten year anniversary.  Colin and Dorothy, you guys are some of the best people.  I believe they've also been to 125 shows each. That's a lot of Cheetos, folks... This song's for you."  I was shocked to get such a kind and heart-felt shout out; in front of a sold-out Saturday Fillmore crowd, no less.  It was amazing, and as Ben sang "To See You Coming Round the Bend" I couldn't contain my happiness.  "Bend" is such a beautiful love song, and it truly describes the feeling of separation between two traveling lovers.  I really wanted to go back to my rail spot and dance with Colin, but it would have taken half the song to squeeze through, so I had to just step aside in the pit and watch.  It was a wonderful moment, and Colin and I felt very lucky to get to share it with so many of our Kinfolk friends.

Photo courtesy of Gregg Jones

"We have a lot of non-verbal communication on stage," Adam said as they finished the song, "And Ben looked over at me and he mouthed the words 'who wrote this, anyway?'  There's a lot of chords in that song."  He then quietly chanted "Stella! Stella!" before whirling into "Spanish Harlem Incident".  Nice.  It was Dave's turn next with "Night is Left Behind".  I couldn't believe it.  After years of barely ever getting this one, we were now hearing it for the second time on this tour.  I love this song so much... I even made a "Night is Left Behind" shirt for my birthday show a few years back.  This show was starting out to be one to remember, and since I felt so much better tonight than last night, I was fully enjoying it and dancing my butt off.

"Your fashion or your life, I'm afraid." This was Ben's introduction to "Boots", which I thought was pretty funny.  The next song was dedicated to Darol Anger, and I only had a couple seconds to hope for "Polly Put the Kettle On" before they went into exactly that.  Oh yes.  Everyone played this to perfection, but the best part is always the last time through, when Dave and Adam play the melody together.  So sweet.  "What the Night Brings" came next, and I have to say just how much this song has grown on me.  I first heard it back to back with the first time I heard Dave's "Ripcord Blues", and compared to Dave's new one, I didn't give Jeff's a second look.  Now, a year and a half later, I have long since separated these two songs, and have come to not only appreciate "What the Night Brings" for what it is, but I have grown to love it as well.  Some songs I like instantly, others take a while. But sometimes, those that take some time end up being the ones that touch me the deepest and resonate with me the longest.  It's interesting how that can happen. Speaking of new songs, a new, unnamed Dave song was next.  I was immediately drawn to the music, and as Dave started singing, the feeling I got was one of being sad, lost, and alone.  Once again, Dave has written another kick ass new song that sounds nothing like anything he's done before.  Where are these songs coming from?  I don't care, as long as they keep on coming.  

Very few words were spoken between songs as the set moved on with "Idaho", "Mason's Children", and "If You're Ever In Oklahoma".  That's five for five, seeing "Mason's" every time they've played it since bringing it back into the rotation.  Also, it seems that they have been putting "Idaho" and "Oklahoma" in the same set a lot lately... or at least putting "Oklahoma" with another state-titled song such as "Winds of Wyoming" or "California Cottonfields".  Funny.  This "Oklahoma" was a rager (duh), and as it quieted down in the middle, Jeff picked it back up with his intense solo as Adam chopped the beat behind him.  Adam took over and built on the energy that Jeff had sparked, and when Dave finally joined in and took us to the last verse of the song, the crowd couldn't hold it in any longer, and the whole venue erupted with joy.  That's how you end a first set.  Well done.

I spent the set break hanging out by the merch booth, where I ran into Scotty and Stella, but just missed the local Kinfolk Street Team member.  It was a madhouse in the Fillmore, with the sold-out crowd making it hard to make my way through the venue.  I managed to get some waters and make it back to the rail just in time for the second set.

"F*ck yeah, San Francisco!" Dave hollered.  Ben followed with, "Well, a rich girl she drives in an automobile!" and after Jeff and Adam each did their thing, "I mean seriously folks... give it up for me and Dave for cryin' out loud!"  Ben was grinning ear to ear, while Dave was pumping up the crowd, throwing fists in the air, and hootin' and hollerin'.  It was so funny and succeeded in getting everyone super pumped for another stellar set.  "My Gal" finally came through and opened the second set to a room full of smiling faces.  It was a great, high-energy "My Gal", complete with the "house made of bricks" verse, which I always enjoy.  "Adam Aijala and Jeff Austin, folks!" "I don't want your pity, Ben." Adam said as Jeff just laughed.  They were having so much fun on stage, laughing and joking with each other; and it spilled out to all of us, creating a huge bubble of positive energy. "Pockets" came next.  My two favorite parts of this song are when Adam sings a low "wanna be alone", and Dave's funky solo.  After seeing some songs many, many times, I find myself drawn to all of the little things that I love about a song. I've always believed that it's the little things in the music that can make or break a song, such as a particular riff, a fill, or a bass line that takes the song to the next level.  

It was turning out to be a really good Dave night, because "Just the Same" came next.  I'm not much for the traditional hippie dances... but this one makes me want to twirl around and around.  Maybe it's because Dave sings "come on, mama..." over and over.  Whatever it is, I love this song, and I always lose myself right where I am.  It seems as if love was in the air tonight, because it was now time for Jeff to inform us that their friend Howie had just proposed to his girlfriend at the show... and she said yes!  "So, rain your love down on them, people!  They're right here, show me the ring... my God!  That's what you've been doing with your money instead of seeing us.  Congratulations you guys.  This in no way relates to the next song."  Well, that's good, because the next song was "Death Trip".  It rocked on, as usual... until Dave started thrashing on the strings of his banjo.  It was really awesome and completely caught my attention, snapping me out of my groove. The next verse came in, and I went back to my groove for the majority of the song... but then it was Jeff's turn to surprise me and come through with a crazy wonderful solo.  I normally don't get too excited for "Death Trip", but this one proves that I can always be won over.  "Corona" came next, and Adam did a fine job of picking up the energy in the room.  

Ben sang a bouncy "Town" after telling us that "No, it's not about Delaware.  I've never been, so I don't know how nice and awesome the people are."  There was no chatter after "Town".  Ben and Jeff played at each other while Dave and Adam tuned, and as they all joined in together, Scotty found us and we all started dancing to "Whipping Post".  "Good timing!" Alison yelled to Scotty.  "It was no accident!" He replied, as he brought the dance level down front higher than ever.  I think people really get their anger and frustrations out when they dance to this song. I know I do.  "Whipping Post" ended with a lot of distortion and screeched into a dirty "Fingerprint".  After all that madness, it was time for a little bluegrass to cleanse the pallet.  "Ain't No Way of Knowing" did just that.  Jeff then dedicated the last big chunk of music to Warren Hellman, the founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, while also giving props to the great Earl Scruggs, saying "In honor of those guys, we're not gonna play anything close to bluegrass.  We're gonna do what they wanted to have happen, which is have the music... do something else."  And something else is just what they did, starting with "Peace of Mind".  I could have cried.  I feel like I have just missed this song a lot lately, with Yonder playing it right before or right after one of my shows.  The last one I got was at the Orange Peel in February... and Colin's was over the New Years run!  Needless to say, as the song progressed, got funky with the pedal, and then came into a slow jam, we were all happy to hear this one.  The slow jam turned into "Up on the Hill Where They Do the Boogie", which is not one of my favorites, but I think Ben looks like Fire Marshall Bill (remember In Living Color?) when he sings the back-up "Do do do's" to Jeff's lead.  It cracks me up.  But everyone else really loves this song, and it got the entire crowd boogying. We boogied right back into "Peace of Mind", bringing closure to the last big chunk of music.  We were all as happy as could be as we sang "You and I" with Ben and Jeff.  We were all side by side, sharing another incredible show together... and nothing could be better than the feeling we felt just then.  

At the start of the encore, I decided to try my luck at getting photos upstairs.  I figured I wouldn't miss anything, and I would get some good shots.  Well, this didn't go as well as planned.  I had VIP access, but there was one security guard who didn't believe that I should.  I managed to take a few shots during "Fastball", but before the song was even over I was being escorted out.  Like some sort of hooligan!  Oh well.  I took that opportunity to hang out in the balcony during "Crazy", and then run around and dance during "Going Where They Do Not Know My Name".  Wow, what an encore!  I made my way towards the merch booth to pick up some handbills, but then the band came back out for a second encore. "Well I'll confess, they cattle-prodded us back out here, but I have no clue what we're gonna play." Ben asked the crowd if there was anything that they wanted to hear, which of course was answered with a lot of incoherent yelling.  "Colin.  Hey, Colin.  What do you wanna hear, man?"  How awesome.  Colin's request for the second encore was "Keep On Going", which turned out to be the best way to end this show.  I really wished I hadn't left the front at all, but I found myself dancing at the "side rail" with Brian and Rebecca, which was a blast.

Since we started dating, Colin and I have always traveled to see shows.  It started with the String Cheese Incident, moved on to Keller Williams, and eventually came around to Yonder Mountain String Band.  I am so thankful for all of the amazing experiences we have had together.  We've been to many places, we've seen a whole hell of a lot of shows, and we've met so many people... but nothing compares to the family we have because of Yonder.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/14/12 Theatre, San Francisco, CA

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