written by Dorothy St.Claire
Colin and I ran into the venue and found Rick, Melissa, and Kristen close to the front of the crowd. Apparently, they had been running late as well. But Brown Bird was already kicking ass, and I could feel that tonight was going to be unforgettable. I didn't waste any time. I grabbed my camera, secured my bag, and got down to business. I love seeing music, I love taking photographs, and after having a long weekend off from Yonder (including my first trip home in a month and the only 2 shows of Fall Tour that I would miss) I was super psyched to get back to "work".
This was our first time to the Blue Note, and I was thoroughly enjoying it. The staff were all extremely friendly, and the room was small, yet comfortable. And above all, it sounded great. The boys walked out onto the stage to thunderous cheers and excited whistles. "Well good evening!" Jeff greeted us all as the band tuned up and fell right into the show with "Rambler's Anthem". This was their first show on this tour that brought them to the midwest, and you could feel it in their playing. They were tight. They were loud. They had that buzz of energy around them that only comes from the midwest.
As they tore through "Irondale", I could tell it was going to be Dave's night. He was killing it. I don't know how he does what he does, but above all, I don't know how he stays so cool in those hot flannel shirts! After some chatter about Harvest Fest, we got our first song surprise of the night - "Romance Blues". Oh, what a great song. It was pretty early in the show for so much emotion, but Jeff shoved it right in our faces: "I only pray you feel the sting that only loneliness could bring..." so good.
"Honestly" came next, whole and complete, with no filler. It stood on its own and forced us to feel Adam's impassioned plea to "run back to me!" Then they played one of the best versions of "River". There was nothing out of the ordinary about it, but it was played perfectly and had me envisioning myself in the cool, clear water. Our next song surprise was a fast "Let Me Fall". I never expect to hear this song in the middle of a set, and it really pumped the crowd up. A melodic "Mossy Cow" followed the fast bluegrass song, and I was overjoyed to hear one of my all time favorite Yonder instrumentals. Then they took the tempo right back up with "Troubled Mind". This is another one of those songs where I find myself concentrating on the bass. It's the controlled chaos. I just love it.
Dave and Jeff sang "This Train is Bound for Glory", a gospel favorite, and one of the first songs these two ever played together. Then we were hit with another unexpected tune, "Midwest Gospel Radio". Oh, it was so lovely. Whether Jeff adds any lyrics or not (and tonight was a purely instrumental version) this song is filled with so much positivity and warmth. When they play this song I like to look around at my Kinfolk with their eyes closed, letting themselves feel the music. Then I remember all the other shows where I've heard this song and done the same thing. It's like a montage of happy smiling Kinfolk faces in my brain. "Midwest Gospel Radio" is the musical translation of what my heart feels because of this band and all of my Kinfolk. ...Anyways. The sappy feeling was abruptly stomped down by the force of "Fingerprint", and we all altered our dancing accordingly. This set was wild, and it contained so many goodies, but we had one more huge treat before we got a break. Jeff quickly counted down "Peace of Mind" and that was it. I was in my happy place.
The second set started with "Pretty Daughter", reassuring us that this was indeed going to be a great set. A confident Dave sang "Don't You Lean On Me" next, which was followed immediately with Adam's cool voice and "Pride of Alabama". I was running through the audience, taking photos around the venue and visiting with Kinfolk at the merch booth through these last couple songs, and as "Picture in a Tear" started, I made my way back towards the front. And my goodness, I'm glad I did. One of the things I love about seeing shows with Rick and Melissa is that they're Dave-siders. So, I got right back up there with Colin, Rick, Melissa, Kristen, Alyssa, Lora, and Chelsea, smack dab in front of Dave... just in time to hear him tear the banjo a new one.
The lights dimmed and the soft sounds of "No Expectations" came through the air. The crowd danced and bounced in waves as the song kicked into its groove. It was soon clear that this was going to be a song to remember, because everyone was playing at their very best. Ben was the anchor that kept everyone in place, pounding out those heavy bass notes. Dave started the rush of solos and built his up higher and higher until the crowd couldn't take it anymore and cheers started bursting through the music. Adam came in next and grabbed on to the groove, giving us a taste of his best and most precise playing before Jeff stormed in and turned it up even more. What could we do but jump and scream as this song took on a life of its own? When they finally started their carousel of solos, quickly going from Jeff, to Dave, to Adam, and back again, I almost lost it. It was just too good.
"What's Going on in the Head of That Woman" was a huge surprise, and put a little bit of a swing in everyone's thing. Then Dave stepped up to the mic for his introduction to the next song, "I used to have a lot of existential doubt about this next song because I always felt like I was kind of just making up the lyrics off the top of my head. I went years dealing with this internal battle, and finally I did what most people do when they're suffering from an existential crisis, I went on the internet to look up what the lyrics were, and I had them right all along." Ha! "You're No Good" was that song, and Dave seriously blew me away. Call the fire department! This one's outta control!!!
Then Adam's guitar cut through the noises of the crowd with the always recognizable "New Speedway Boogie". "Bloody Mary Morning" followed, and when the crowd roared again Ben replied with "You don't have to thank me. This is a fine gig. It's a good bass playing gig." They dusted off an old bluegrass number, "Molly and Tenbrooks" next, and it just added to the stack of musical surprises for the night. As the band took their time tuning up and then noodling around before the next song, I felt that joy rise up inside of me as I realized what they were about to play. Kristen passed her rail spot to me for "Looking Back Over My Shoulder", and I let the song take over. The heavy hitters didn't stop - "Traffic Jam" was up next. Seriously. This show was a big one. But they finally decided to throw us a sandwich, placing "Elzic's Farewell" perfectly in the middle of "Traffic Jam". We didn't even have time to think that it could be a sandwich before it was a sandwich. I love this band.
This show just kept going and going, so even though we had been rocking for hours, the end seemed to come so suddenly. There was no room for any complaints, though. This was such a wonderful show, and they finished it off with a short but sweet encore of "Steam Powered Aereoplane". It really couldn't have been better.
I made my final trip to the merch booth at the end of the show, saying "goodbye" to some friends and "see ya later" to others, because we were heading down to Harvest Fest in the morning for more Yonder and more Kinfolk fun!
Written by Dorothy St.Claire