Harlow's - Sacramento, CA (April 25, 2013)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

The drive from Bend to Sacramento was long. So incredibly ridiculously long. But we made it, and I was dropped off at a sushi restaurant a couple blocks from Harlow's. If you know me at all, you know that sushi was not my choice. But this was a big day… I usually only see my mom once a year, and since she lives in northern California, I plan my annual visit around Spring Tour… and today I was meeting her, Colin, and Lori for sushi (gross) before the show! Luckily they had finished their food when I got there, so we were soon walking down the street to Harlow's.

I love Harlow's. It's such a tiny and unique room. I gave Colin a little tour through the venue and the beautiful back smoker's area, and right away we started running into our Kinfolk friends. Shari and Brian were there nice and early, and Alison made a surprise appearance after telling us she wouldn't be able to make it. This night was starting off beautifully. My mom met Jeff here last year, but tonight I was able to introduce her to Ben, Adam, and Dave. It felt great to be able to give my mom a laminate, give her a seat in a reserved booth, and introduce her to the band. It felt really great. 

The small room soon filled up and Yonder took the stage right at 8, with no opening band. "You all ready to go?" Jeff asked. "Ahh, then let's go!" And we were whisked away with "What the Night Brings". It was a high energy song, and everyone was playing phenomenally... but something was off. Jeff wasn't his usual self and as the song went on, it was clear to me that he was not a happy camper. Ben took over and sang "Criminal", successfully keeping the crowd unaware that anything was wrong on stage. I was too distracted to fully appreciate Dave's solo during "What the Night Brings", but when he stepped forward during "Criminal" I couldn't ignore it. Dave was bringing it tonight. And he totally brought it with "Maid of the Canyon". 

"And that is David Johnston on the 5-string banjo, folks." Ben said as he looked at Dave with admiration. "At least that's what he told me his name was when I met him 15 years ago." Dave wasn't through leading the charge, giving us a dark and heavy "Fingerprint". Jeff let out some of his aggression through his solo and I think he was finally able to breathe a little. Dave belted out the last verse, making sure we all stayed in the present and enjoyed the moment. It was one of the better "Fingerprints" I've heard in a while. And then "Jail Song" came in and was absolute perfection as Ben sang harmony on the final verse. I don't know why they finally added that little piece of goodness to this song, but as long as they keep it up, I don't care.

"That's Adam Aijala on the guitar everybody, let him hear it! Let him know you love him!" Jeff gave Adam an enthusiastic introduction, and Adam seemed pretty pumped. "Thank you, it's good to be back in the Sac! Give it up for Jeff Austin, everybody." "Thank you friends, thank you. I am honored to stand in front of you today as my internal clock ticks one day closer to its inevitable end." Jeff shook it off as quick as he said it. "That was dark. Fuck it. I'm really glad my girlfriend and our little girl flew in from Colorado, I'm really glad they're here. They're right back there. I wanna thank Harlow's for being incredibly accommodating to them." That was followed with a mischievous laugh and I started to get an idea about what was bugging him. He dedicated "Cuckoo's Nest" to his girls, who had ear to ear grins from their spot at the back of the room. 

Ben sang a beautiful "To See You Coming Round the Bend" before Adam shared his classic "Left Me in a Hole". Then Ben decided to make an announcement. "It's Jeff birthday today, I'm not sure if we said it's Jeff's birthday today through the microphone yet, but guess what? It's Jeff's birthday today, through the microphone and everything." "Thank you SO MUCH!" Jeff screamed, giving us a big thumbs up. "Life!" It was pretty funny, and then Dave sang "Don't Worry Happy Birthday". Awesome. And then BOOM! "Snow on the Pines". Double awesome. The room came together as one big music-loving entity, jumping up and down and throwing their arms in the air. This was a straight-up "Snow", holding its own without anything in the middle. And when they finished breaking it down and Jeff and Adam started to bring it back in, we were hit with one of the more aggressive reintroductions into "Snow" that I've heard. The packed crowd loved it and showed it as they screamed and jumped. And was that the end of the set? Of course not. We got a real dirty "Pretty Daughter" before we took our break. 

I spent most of my set break just outside the backstage door, hiding from the crowds of people. It was there that I learned that Jeff's less than good mood was because Harlow's had refused his girlfriend and daughter entry to the venue. Dealing with that was not his idea of a fun birthday celebration, but it all worked out in the end and his mood was improving by the minute. And before we knew it, it was time to get back at it.

As the guys came back to the stage, the air was filled with requests being shouted out from each direction. I don't know if anyone hollered for "All the Time", but that's what we got to open the set.  I thought this was a great choice for the beginning of the set, and it got the crowd moving right away. Jeff said the usual "Thank you folks. Welcome back." before Ben took over with "Straight Line". "Steep Grade Sharp Curves" came next, and I slipped over to my Dave-side spot for "Don't You Lean On Me". I stayed on this side as "Only a Northern Song" eased in, and if I stood in just the right spot, I could watch Ben play through the gap between Dave's fingers and his banjo. That's why I love Harlow's. There are barely any other venues where I could get that awesome view. 

We got a rare "Bell Parker" before they soared through "Looking Back Over My Shoulder". I love that feeling when there's nothing but the mandolin ringing through the air as Jeff breaks this song down and then they all come together to take us on the journey. It really is one of those perfect songs. The crowd came together in one huge roar as Dave's solo shot through the air and Ben stepped in to sing the last verse. But before we could even take one breath, Dave pounced, and we were knocked over with "Mental Breakdown". There were so many notes in there, that anyone keeping track would be sure to have their own "Mental Breakdown". He gave a big "Atwell!" growl at the end, soaking in all the cheers with that big Davey J grin. 

As the crowd just kept clapping and screaming, Adam asked us "You guys like it? Are we doing something good tonight? Thank you so much." He put on his harmonica just in time for Jeff to start singing Todd Snider's "Just Like Old Times". They picked up the pace with "Boots", "This one time Adam taught me all about power chords. This song has some power chords in it." And then cradled us in the familiarity of "Mother's Only Son". The long jams were hypnotic, luring us into a false sense of security with the feeling that these jams could go on forever. But they did not, and soon we were hit hard with "Death Trip". 

"We wanna thank you guys for being here tonight, we hope you had a good-ass time!" Jeff roared into "Too Late Now" to finish off the set. I love this song, and it's always an amazing feeling watching everyone dance together as Jeff sings "sometimes you gotta hit the road to wind up back home". It was a wonderful end to the set and the crowd showed their love with loud cheers as the band left the stage.

The encore started with "Pockets" and a little tasty groove, and finished fast with "Troubled Mind". A great end to a fun show.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

Download this show from Yondermountainlive!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please share your thoughts on this post!