Montbleu Theater - Stateline, NV (April 12, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

Only a week and a half since my last Yonder run, and I found myself in California, ready for round two.  Lori, Alison, Dale, Chris, and I had all come to Stateline from Truckee that day, which had been dumped with snow overnight.  We beat the snow to Tahoe, but by showtime it had caught up with us and started to fill the streets.  But of course it was snowing... Yonder was in town! 

After the difficulties of last year's show at the Montbleu, I wouldn't have thought they would come back again.  Last year there was a problem with the will-call list, which led to some people not getting into the show until the second set.  Then, once inside, if you left the front there was a good chance they wouldn't let you back down.  It was a one in, one out policy.  This year the list seemed to be fine, and they fixed the floor capacity problem with wristbands.  With this system, the first 200 people in line got a wristband that would let them onto the floor.  As the night progressed and we were not being smushed by tons of people, we came to be extremely thankful for the new policy.  Understandably, with how poorly things went last year, some of my friends were a little iffy about coming back out this year.  I was determined to make it, however, because of the sparkly LED curtain.  I loved taking photos with the curtain last year and really looked forward to experimenting with it again.  It was all I could think about.  Then as we waited in line, Ted came and broke all of our hearts with the news that there would be no LED curtain tonight.  What a bummer.

We went Dave side for this one, with our spiffy new Dave shirts.  Brown Bird was with Yonder on this entire tour, and at some point between Tulsa and Tahoe, Morganeve and David had switched places on stage.  It was a fun change of pace for taking photos of these two, and having some time since my last show, I was really excited to see them again.  They played a great show as the venue filled up, and got us all ready for the main event.  

Yonder came to the stage, and Ben took charge of the microphone right away.  "I haven't had a real job in 14 years.  And when I did have a real job I hated every damn minute of it!"  He was enthusiastic and talkative as he started "Blue Collar Blues", and the Tahoe Yonder party began.  "Irondale" came next, and it was soon clear that tonight was one of those nights where they were clicking perfectly and playing together so tight, that they left no room for any funny business.  They were soaring through the set, bringing out "One More" to give us a little taste of the heavier stuff.  "It's nice to be back here," Adam said. "Me love me some Tahoe." He smiled and started "A Father's Arms" with that incredible guitar riff.  

Jeff made the suggestion of everyone staying up all night playing roulette if we were to be snowed in.  Ben replied, "If anybody sees me trying to pawn Dave's banjo later on this evening, make sure I get a good price for it, otherwise I'm in big trouble."  Jeff laughed (Dave, not so much) and whirled into "Illinois Rain".  The casino talk then continued with discussions of stripper poles and whether or not video would be permitted.  Jeff was not into that idea, but Ben felt differently. "I'll set the record straight.  When I hit the stripper pole ya'll take as many pictures as you want.  I promise you, you'll throw up at the end of it, but at least you'll have proof that you were there.  Or something.  Pardon me while I rock."  He had strapped on his electric for "Complicated", the first of many songs that I would get tonight that I had gotten at my last show (April 1st).  Then came my first "You're No Good" since New Years, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  As Jeff stepped up to the microphone, it was obvious that he enjoyed it too, "First of all, you're the best f*cking fan base in all of music, I'll say that.  You can debate it all day, but the way you guys support each other and take care of each other - top notch."

The beautiful and emotional "Lay it on the Line" came next.  I love this song.  I want to hear it more and more.  "As I reach for you, I keep pulling myself under." And then Jeff's solo.  Oh man, that's great.  Then Ben sang a little Ragtime for all the ladies in the house, with a fun "Rag Mama".  They got into a little silliness before roaring into "New Horizons"> "Sidewalk Stars"> "New Horizons".  As Jeff turned up his distortion and "New Horizons" turned into "Sidewalk Stars", the LED curtain lit up behind the band and the crowd went wild.  Damn that Ted!  He kept such a straight face when he lied to us that I didn't even consider that he wasn't telling the truth.  It was a great surprise, and with the return to "New Horizons" was a great way to end the first set.

Still giddy from the sparkly curtain, I made my way to the merch booth to visit with Scotty and meet up with Casey, the local street teamer for the show.  To my surprise, I also ran into Bridget and Thom - some old friends from Des Moines!  It was a really fun set break, visiting with friends from home, and then making new Kinfolk friends before heading back in for the second set.  

There were still a lot of folks on the casino floor, smoking cigarettes and gambling when Yonder came back to the stage, but "Ten" got them quickly back inside. "Ten" morphed into "Shake Me Up", which had a great bass and mandolin jam inside it.  By the time we came back to "Ten", everyone was packed back inside the venue and dancing their asses off.  "Naughty Sweetie" came next and got all the ladies screaming "Hi Ben!".  This was another song that I got at two consecutive shows.  How crazy!  "Can I sing one?" Dave asked.  He belted out the great "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry", with as much feeling this time around as any other.  "Another Day" came next, which made me miss Colin.  Good thing he was meeting up with us in San Francisco.  The next song made me miss him even more - "Eli Renfro".  Damn.  Colin loves that song and I wished he was there to enjoy it with me.  Ben sang a heartfelt "Finally Saw the Light", then Jeff joined him to sing "Come Together".  Yet another song that I got at my last show. They sure have played this one often in the past year or so.  It is a fun one, and the crowd always loves it.  Then they played some fast ass bluegrass, "Red Rocking Chair", for their friend Kyle.  Everyone loves this song, and I was loving that I was getting this one again so soon... and I love it when Jeff hits those high notes.  The band was having so much fun, joking together on stage, and joking with us out in the audience, and they followed one bluegrass song with another - "Walking Shoes".  

"Steep Grade Sharp Curves" came next, which is one that people always want to hear in the Tahoe area; written only ten miles away.  A juicy "Honestly"> "Traffic Jam"> "Fine Excuses"> "Honestly" ended the second set and blew our minds.  This was a good "Honestly" sandwich.  As the first part of "Honestly" was coming to an end, Adam started the fast strum, and it really sounded like they were going to finish off the song.  But then the strum kept going and before we knew it, it was "Traffic Jam".  The place erupted.  Ben sang his heart out, singing "A smile on my face and my scalp blowin' in the breeze", and Dave's solo was right on point, mimicking Ben's vocal line.  It was hard to keep up with Adam's fingers as he took his turn, and Jeff came in with a tornado of a solo that sent us all off the edge. "Traffic Jam" rocked all the way through, and before we could soak it in, "Fine Excuses" began.  I have heard this one sandwiched in "Honestly" before, and it fits in really well, but if they would have kept it to just "Traffic Jam" inside of it, the energy in the room probably would have been completely explosive.  In a good way.  I'd like to hear them try that one out sometime.  But then "Fine Excuses" came to an end and the second half of "Honestly" roared back in.  We all bounced with the bass and sang along with Adam and the boys, "Won't you run back to me!" It was a beautiful thing.  

"We got time for a few more, if you got 'em in ya!" Always, Jeff.  "Crow Black Chicken" started off the encore, with "Southern Flavor" pulling up the rear.  Two songs that gave our dancing souls a couple more chances to get all of the funk out of our bones.  This show turned out to be so much fun, and with none of the hassle of the year before.  It was a great start to my second run of the Spring Tour.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
4/12/12 Mont Blu Resort, South Lake Tahoe, NV

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