written by Dorothy St.Claire
Day two in St. Louis started like every other day two in St. Louis. We went to Blueberry Hill for a late breakfast, and I made a quick stop at Avalon Exchange, one of my favorite second-hand stores. But soon after, it was time for Colin and I to meet up with Rex at The Pageant. We helped Rex with some filming during Yonder's soundcheck, and I got my first and only photo with the whole band. Thanks, Rex!
Soon it was that time again, and Kinfolk were filling the Halo Bar - waiting to get into The Pageant. I love how most people waiting in line are always waiting to get the prime tables, while just a few of us are waiting for rail spots. The floor never fills up until the music starts, but there's no way my friends aren't going to wait in line. People were trickling in as The Deadly Gentlemen started their set. Again, they were full of energy and extremely entertaining.
And then it began. "There is not one other place I would rather be." Dave proclaimed into the microphone as soon as he was fully in tune. "It's my mission and promise to you to tear down the roof of this building with bluegrass music." The crowd exploded in one huge cheer of excitement, and another huge night started with a ferocious "What the Night Brings". As he left us all out of breath, Jeff greeted those of us standing in front of him and those who were sitting on their couches at home, listening to the stream. "We wish you were here with us." Adam played a little "Wish You Were Here" tease, and then brought it into "Left Me in a Hole".
I was hanging out down in front of Ben with some friends as he turned to the crowd, "So I pulled an audible. I don't often do that - I don't deviate from the setlist - but all of a sudden just now, I'm not sure if you saw it, I was suddenly overcome with the desire to sing this next number rather than the one that was written down on the piece of paper." "Ben, is it possible that maybe the song you were going to play maybe has like... maybe too many chords in it?" Adam asked, and Ben agreed. "I'm gonna send this one out to my friend Kitty. I'm glad that you like this song, thanks for reminding me that it was good." Kitty was already so happy just to be there, but getting Ben to sing "Must've Had Your Reasons" absolutely made her night.
It was time to just dance as Dave ripped through "Maid of the Canyon", and then Adam introduced the next song as "an old song we don't really play very much", and I think everyone was shocked when Jeff started "Darkness and Light". I stood behind the band for part of this song, and the looks on everyone's faces were priceless. They couldn't have been happier. "Troubled Mind" came next, and although this is a regularly played song, the crowd wasn't any less excited. They jumped and screamed and danced like mad as the bluegrass beat took over. The crowd's roar boomed again as Jeff introduced Ben, and Ben replied, "Thank you very much folks, it really is my pleasure. I'm just happy to be here, to be perfectly honest with you. Somehow or another I stumbled my way into a pretty good gig." The cheers only grew, and Ben smiled as he continued. "Well we haven't played this one in a long time, either. Dave has to change banjos for it. There's one song that we play where I gotta change pants for it, but it's no good. No part of it is any good." The stage was full of laughter as Dave tuned up and then added, "Right now I'm tweeting that I can't believe they're gonna play 'Just the Same' in the first set." Oh my word. I love that a Yonder show isn't just full of good music, it's full of good laughs. But back to the good music - "Just the Same" rocked. Like it always does.
I headed over to Ted's light booth for "Rambler's Anthem", and the opportunity for some of my favorite group shots - where I can capture all four guys singing together. And I just love this song. I guess you could say it speaks to me: "For my whole life I've heard the highway callin'." Oh yes, indeed. I decided that I got the shots I needed for this set, and that I really needed some Kinfolk boogie time... so I made my way down to my pals up front as Adam sang "A Father's Arms", and then really got down to boogie business through an amazing "Rag Doll" and "Dear Prudence". Wow.
It was another fun set break. I met more Kinfolk, hung out with Scotty, and laughed as Kelli freaked out from the continuous "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" setbreak music, "I don't know how much more of this sh*t I can take!"
I was still side-stage as the band came out and started their second set with "Good Hearted Woman". I got my boogie on, hidden behind the curtain, and then headed back into the photo pit in time for "Don't Worry Happy Birthday". The music turned flirty and fun as the band switched gears and Jeff sang "Yes She Do (No She Don't)". I don't think we get this song nearly enough, and I made sure to find a good spot to dance with my friends as soon as it started. It was a good one, definitely putting the swing into everyone's thing. When the song ended, Dave finished tuning and stepped forward, "Well I'll tell you what, my sucrose levels were really dropping there for a minute, and now I see that we have a Benny Galloway number queued up on the set, and I feel right back to normal." "Winds of Wyoming" rocked. It was just so good. I love when Jeff and Adam trade solos back and forth and then Dave just gallops in and takes over.
As soon as "Winds of Wyoming" finished, Jeff started a barely audible strum. As the crowd picked up on what he was playing, the energy in the room began to rise until the whole band came together to fill the room with the sound of "Sand". This was an 11-minute "Sand". Nice and jammed-out, with lots of intense lights, and lots of funky Jeff pedal action. And then it changed. Jeff still had his foot on his pedal, but the melody coming at us was different. It was "Little Rabbit". But then it was "Sand" again. We went back and forth between these two colliding sounds until "Little Rabbit" won, and we were pushed into a bluegrass bounce. The segue between these two songs was my favorite part of the show... so far.
"Criminal" came next, and then Ben expressed what a lot of people had to be thinking, "Well thanks very much folks, and also especially thank you for your energy, we can really feel that. There's something happening there. I felt it come up here... go into this thing..." We all laughed, everyone tuned up, and Ben moved on. "So you know what time it is, folks. It's almost exactly bluegrass song:30." It sure was, and it was time for Adam to sing again, giving us a little "Pride of Alabama". "Well let's not stop the body rock, folks." Ben came back again, "It's almost precisely bluegrass song:33." It's always nice to get back to back bluegrass, and "Sharecropper's Son" was the song that kept us going.
Jeff took a deep breath and gave a big laugh before starting a jam that would go down in history. "Peace of Mind" hit us hard and I found my spot in the crowd with my Dave-side friends to get down and get lost in the music for a while. The music and the lights were hypnotic as they stretched it out, but the start of "Snow on the Pines" brought us all to our senses real quick. I was overwhelmed, as I'm sure most of the crowd was, when Jeff's voice became dark and distorted as "Snow" progressed and then, wouldn't you know it... "If you don't believe that I am wrong..." Oh hell no. It couldn't be. But it was. "Follow Me Down to the Riverside" came screaming out of "Snow on the Pines", and at that moment I knew we were in the middle of what could very well be voted the jam of the year. Everyone in the crowd was dancing their hardest; screaming their loudest. And then Jeff and Adam came together to bring us back into "Snow", where I found my footing and started to come back from the mesmerizing groove. And then as "Peace of Mind" picked back up, and we heard Jeff sing "Late in the afternoon, and the sun is setting low" we made as much noise as possible. We just couldn't hold it in any longer. "Peace of Mind" ended, and brought with it the end of the jam and the end of the set. It was huge, and we let those Yonder boys know just how much we appreciated it.
"Thank you so much for the energy, folks." Jeff said, still beaming from the end of the set. "We appreciate the hell out of it. Thank you all. We hope you had a good time, we sure had fun with you all, so..." So, Adam decided to rip it and started playing "Hey Bulldog". Nice. I really like this cover. But I think I would probably like any Beatles song covered by Yonder. There was time for one more, the crowd favorite, "Boatman". This was a good choice for the end - a fun bluegrass song that everyone knows and everyone danced to.
"Thank you St. Louis. Thank you for the love. Thank you all."
By now, if you still haven't made it to a run at The Pageant, do yourself a favor and just plan on it next year. Seriously. It could be the best time you have all year.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire; photos by Rex Thomson, Eric Martin, and Dorothy St.Claire
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