The Slowdown - Omaha, NE (July 8, 2012)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

This was shaping up to be a really bizarre Summer Tour so far.  We had a show in Kansas City, followed by a few days off.  Then a show in Des Moines, followed by another couple days off.  Then we found ourselves driving to Omaha for show #3.  Living in Des Moines has its perks, including being smack dab in the middle of the Midwest, and able to quickly and easily travel to many places, making this summer tour easy for us, but difficult for most other fans traveling in.

A bunch of us got pizza around the corner before heading to The Slowdown for line duty.  We were so pleased to have Colin's oldest friend Blake at this show with his son Austin, who was celebrating his 12th birthday.  This was Austin's second Yonder show, with his first being this same date last year, in Des Moines.  He knows how to spend a birthday!  This show sold out a couple hours before the doors opened, and by the time they started letting us in, the line was all the way down the block.  People were ready for some bluegrass tonight.

We were so happy to be indoors after so many hot shows in the last week, and when the band came to the stage, we could feel that this was going to be a night to remember.  It all started with "Train Bound For Gloryland", a surprising and amazing opener, followed by "Little Rabbit" and "Crow Black Chicken", pretty much guaranteeing that everyone in the room danced.  Dave introduced the next song, "Continuing with the theme of pie; crusty, soft, or hot...".  It was "Easy as Pie" with what Jeff called the "limited edition introduction", due to a little flub at the beginning of the song (which we immediately forgot anyway).

"We're gonna sing you a bluegrass song now, if that's cool." Ben said, glancing out over the crowd with a reassuring look.  "One of the cool things about doing this, you get to sing in three part harmony.  I suggest that everybody find people to sing harmony with at some point in their life, it's important.  But then again, I am just a bass player, so don't listen to me."  I don't think any of us would have guessed that the bluegrass song they would play was "California Cottonfields", a rare gem of a song that we've only heard a couple times.  Another goodie, "Ain't No Way of Knowing" came next, and there's just something about Shawn Camp's tunes that have an extra bounce that I absolutely love.  "Out of the Blue" was followed by a roar from the crowd, and a second gospel train song, "This Train Is Bound For Glory".  

After a quiet couple minutes, the band broke the silence with "Sometimes I've Won", and I felt my heart immediately fill with joy as Ben sang the deeply emotional song.  "New Horizons" came in with a rush, and when it came to the middle of the song, and Ben and Jeff played back and forth at each other, it was probably one of the coolest parts of the night.  The sound of the bow slowly raking across the strings of the bass was haunting.  It slowly turned into Jeff's distorted mandolin, which went to feedback before crashing into "Death Trip".  This was a pretty great "Death Trip" with Jeff and Dave breaking it down really well towards the end.  It all rounded out with the return to "New Horizons" before finally coming to the set break.

I spent my set break over by the merch booth, as usual, meeting with the Omaha street team and chatting with friends.

I was all smiles as the second set opened with "Casualty", one of my favorite songs.  There are a lot of notes in this tune, and they're all good ones!  The crowd tonight was so full of energy, and by now, full of a lot of beers, and they were going wild.  Austin had spent about half of the first set down front with us, and was back down there as Jeff wished him a happy birthday.  It was such a great moment for Austin, and as he stood at the edge of the stage, he beamed under his new Yonder hat.  Adam said "12 years old... I was a trouble maker at 12 years old." With Jeff adding, "I saw the Grateful Dead for the first time when I was 12 years old.  Look what happened."  

"Fingerprint" was the second song in, and I enjoyed the thumping of this heavy tune.  The best part was Adam's distorted solo.  I always get really excited during Jeff's solo, but then Adam cranks it up, and it just gets better.  Like I said, the energy tonight was pretty amazing and intense, but there were definitely some rowdy folks, and at this point things started flying in the air to the stage.  It always sucks when they have to make a "Don't throw sh*t at us" announcement, and we hoped the message would be received.  It didn't dampen anyone's spirits, and the band raged on with "Red Rocking Chair", and me, Colin, Jen, and Max started doing the signature move of the evening - the Spider Man.  Adam's "Pockets" came next, and changed the pace of everyones dance moves. 

"Southern Flavor" came in and sped things back up, then Adam started playing those familiar notes, and "Dawn's Early Light" was eased in.  Oh, what a fantastic song!  I never get tired of "Dawn's", with its dark melodies and outlaw feel.  I got lost in the heavy jam that engulfed us all, and it was soon clear that another song was coming out of the tail end of "Dawns".  I thought it was going to be "Boatman"... it really was a good tease... but it was something oh so much better.  "Over the Waterfall" soared from the stage, and I was overjoyed.  The whole song is great, but when they come together at the end and play as hard as they can, it's an incredible feeling.  Then they went and followed that with "And Your Bird Can Sing".  Damn, these guys are good.

There was no time for chit chat, and the show continued with "Things You're Selling", and the crowd continued going wild. "So that's Sunday?" Ben asked.  "Howard Hughes Blues" came next and was another huge surprise; and then Dave brought the heat with "Loved You Enough".  Jeff took a moment to show his love for all the tapers, and to dedicate the last chunk of music to Steve Propp, a taper whom we recently lost.  I'm sure all of you reading this have at least one killer show that he taped - one of my favorites would have to be Yonder's 1,000th show in Des Moines.  "East Nashville Easter" started blasting from the stage just as an audience chant of "Steve! Steve! Steve!" came from behind us.  Then we all raised our glass to Steve in a "Ramblin'" toast before a beautiful "No Expectations" came in and sent waves through the crowd.  How is it that these guys blow me away each time I see them?  

It was time to go back into "Rambler'"... or so we thought.  Instead, we got an eight minute "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" jam.  Yup.  It started off with a bunch of dirty Dave innuendos, and followed through with a whole mess of funky pedal action from Jeff, before finishing off with the end of "Rambler'".  Wow.  That was a blast.  The guys came out for a couple more, "They Love Each Other" and "Sharecropper's Son", sending us out in the night with hearts and souls soaring from such an inspiring show.

All four guys were completely on their game tonight and came together to create a really unique and wonderful show.  

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Yonder Mountain String Band
7/8/12 The Slowdown, Omaha, NE

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