written by Dorothy St.Claire
I couldn't believe it was already the end of tour. I had traveled through Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and back through North Carolina before flying home for a couple days off and then making the drive to Madison with Colin. It was a whirlwind adventure full of great music and great friends. And although I had had such amazing times with some of my best southeast friends on this tour, I was more than excited to be back in the Midwest to finish it off.
We headed to the Orpheum Theater with Rick, Melissa, and Kristin, and it wasn't long before everyone was ushered into the lobby to wait in the warmth for the venue doors to open. As everyone filed into the theater and found their rail spots, their balcony spots, or their seats behind the soundboard, we found ourselves in the middle of a Kinfolk family reunion. We got cozy as we enjoyed our last Lake Street Dive set, and before I knew it, the venue was full, the crowd was buzzed, and we were ready for Yonder.
As I stood in the photo pit waiting for Yonder to start, I felt a premonition come along. I walked over to Rick and Melissa, calling an "On the Run" opener. Maybe it was just the excitement of the last night of tour, maybe it was just wishful thinking, but either way, I was ready to get this party started.
The guys took the stage to thunderous cheers from the crowd. "That's so nice of you." Jeff said with a smile. Tonight felt good. Real good. And then, wouldn't you know it, Dave set us off with that old school opening riff, and we were dancing to "On the Run". It was perfect! The energy coming from the stage was sky high, and the crowd matched it ten fold. Each band member was in top form, and created that energy that no other band can. "On the Run" slowed and fluttered and flitted into "Kentucky Mandolin"; and as soon as it hit Ben's bass solo, Lake Street Dive's Bridget Kearney walked onto the stage and took over some of the low end - trading the instrument back and forth until two pairs of hands were on the bass, all playing at the same time. The crowd loved it and soon we were finishing "Kentucky Mandolin" and going right back into "On the Run", where Dave just went nuts.
Holy cow! Did that really just happen? The start of this show was so phenomenal and energetic, and it just put the whole room in the happiest place. "Steep Grade Sharp Curves" came after a minute of tuning, and before really letting Dave loose with "You're No Good". Adam sang his newest song, "Lonesome Letter" and then Ben talked about his tourist moment of the day, when he was talking to a local about how "cold" it was that day and thanking him for coming out. Yeah, Ben's obviously not from the Midwest. He then sang a lovely "Straight Line". "Thank you very much folks, now I'm going to need to borrow all of your sweaters."
A little jug music came next with Jeff singing "Yes She Do (No She Don't). "I think this first date's going pretty well so far." Ben said as they all turned to Adam and he began the strums to "Left Me in a Hole". No matter how many times I hear this one (and believe me, I've heard it a lot), I never get tired of it. It's classic Yonder. Then it was time for a banjo tune, of course, and Dave obliged us with "Strophe".
"So this is also the last day of our first tour of the year," Jeff said. "And you know, by this point, at four weeks, your mind just starts to wander around the room. You're hanging out with the people in the corner of the balcony way up there, watching their hands and the lights. You're observing. You're in full observation mode. What I've come to observe is that you folks tonight seem to be doing all right, you seem to be living good, you seem to be feeling right. And we should all give thanks for that, man, I'm telling ya. Cause it's like they say, you know, if you're livin' good and you're feelin' right, you can call him up and tell him what you want to." Oh yeah. We called him up, for sure. Jeff turned his banter into the intro to the next song, pumping us all up as he went, until "Jesus on the Mainline" brought the smiles to our faces and our hands to the air. They brought a special fervor to the song as Dave and Jeff sang, making this song feel so fresh and so new. Jeff started rapping in the middle and soon enough it was clear that we were in for so much more. "Jesus on the Mainline" went into "Whipping Post". Yes, you read that right. "Jesus"> "Whipping"> "Jesus". Hey, I didn't write it, but it was so damn good!
We went into set break with huge grins covering each face. I used to hate set breaks because I wouldn't leave my rail spot and I would start to realize how sore I was and how bad I had to pee. Now I wish they lasted longer. I love running around the venue, meeting my street team, catching up with friends, and getting some fresh air outside. Being the last show of the tour, this set break went by way too fast, and before I knew it, the house lights were going down, and I was rushing back to the front for one last set.
"Are you folks ready for more or what?" Jeff asked us. Of course, everyone screamed. "Aw, we are too." "Fastball" ushered us into another set, and "Too Late Now" got us all cozy. And then I was just about knocked over with surprise when they began "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere". I couldn't even remember the last time I heard that one. Oh wait, yes I could... but it was still very few and far between. And then, oh baby, Dave plucked those strings that started us off into "Troubled Mind". There are some songs that I can't help but remember dancing to at past shows. I'll think back to all of those other great times hearing that song, surrounded by great friends as we all boogie - all over the country. It's really an amazing thing. "Well thanks very much folks, we're gonna get to play one of my new favorite songs that was written by Dave and Adam. I don't know how old it is, but I'm guessing less than one." First I assumed this would be "Pass This Way", but as Adam tuned and strummed, I recognized "Don't Worry Happy Birthday" instead. "Play it real fast, Adam." Dave smirked as he looked across the stage, "Just kick it really fast." Adam played around for a few seconds before beginning the song with its customary slow groove. This is one of my favorites, too, Ben. The lyrics Dave has been writing over the past couple years have just been incredible.
Jeff sped things up quite a bit with "Illinois Rain" next, and had all of us singing along. Next thing I knew, Ben was switching to the electric bass. It could only be a handful of songs, and it turned out to be "Complicated". We have heard this one much less over the past year, and even though it's not on my wish list, I still really enjoy it when they play it. Ben puts everything he is into this song, and it shows. And then, wouldn't you know it, it actually was "Pass This Way". I felt so lucky getting "Happy Birthday" AND "Pass This Way" in the same set. "Pockets" came next, with its tasty groove, and then "Damned If The Right One Didn't Go Wrong" really brought the boogie out of all of us. And you can tell what part of tour you're on by they way they play this song. If it's super fast (like it was tonight), you are at the end of tour.
"High Cross Junction" and "Mother's Only Son" gave us a little more Sheriff Saga and a lot more sweet jams. I mean, these guys are just unstoppable. Especially Dave when he really gets in the groove. He was completely in the zone during his "MOS" solo, throwing us everything he had. He was also completely oblivious to Jeff's punctuated strums - an attempt to catch Dave's attention and move on to Adam's solo. It always seems that when Jeff and Adam are concerned about running out of time, Dave gets into his groove and can't be stopped. I absolutely love it. Adam finally took over with his solo; followed by Jeff's solo and then Ben's final verse as everyone sang along. It was so great, but we didn't have time to reflect yet, because "Peace of Mind" came out of nowhere. It felt so good to finish the last show of tour with "POM", and when the jam started and Jeff's pedal came in and kicked off "Ragdoll", I was done for. "Ragdoll" was its usual dark and creepy self, and then that segue back into "Peace of Mind" was one of those chunks of music that just makes you raise your arms to the sky and cry out in bliss.
Lake Street Dive came out with our Yonder boys for the encore, and everyone on stage looked happy as could be. The encore started with with Adam and Rachael trading verses on Smokey Robinson's "Second That Emotion", while McDuck wailed on the trumpet. The mixture of Yonder and Lake Street Dive was quite a unique and funky sound. Jeff said his thank yous and goodbyes as we all prepared for one last song. "We got one more good one in us before we jump on the old bus and head back to Colorado. So, just thank you guys so much." And then Adam's guitar was turned to shred mode as he started The Who's "The Seeker". It was a really cool encore, but secretly, I was hoping for a pure Yonder bluegrass encore. Maybe if they could have just switched things around and had LSD play with them earlier in the show. I just like that last lingering taste of music to be bluegrass. But oh well. If that's the biggest of my complaints, life is pretty darn good.
Even more than any other show of the tour, we took our time gathering our things and saying our goodbyes. It's hard to see the fun come to an end, but luckily the second part of Winter Tour was just around the corner.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
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