McDonald Theater - Eugene, OR (April 19, 2013)

written by Dorothy St.Claire

My first trip to Seattle was followed by my first trip to Eugene. I absolutely love the Northwest, and I was thrilled to get to spend some time driving through Washington and Oregon. Claude and I had a rainy drive into town, where we got settled into our room and then walked over to the venue. 

I went in a little early to scope out the room and meet the staff, but soon enough the doors were open and Kinfolk started streaming in. I saw a handful of friends the night before in Seattle, but tonight I would see a whole lot more. My midwest friends Cy and Nicole made the trip to Eugene, and Peggy came out from Tennessee to join Kristin, Aaron, and baby Viola for Viola's first show!

Head for the Hills was our opening band again, and they got the crowd nice and warm with their brand of bluegrass music. I enjoyed their set, recognizing a few songs that they had played the night before. I also enjoyed running around the venue while they played; taking photos and running into Kinfolk, I knew these two nights were bound to be nothing short of spectacular. 

I found my way to the photo pit as the guys entered the stage and tuned up. "Hey, how are ya?" Jeff asked. The responding roar was enough of an answer, so they jumped right in and started the show with "On the Run". A huge shot of energy ran all the way from the stage to the back of the room, and we were off. I love an "On the Run" opener. It lets you know that they aren't messing around. That it's showtime and they're gonna make you dance. Hard. With his first solo, I thought Adam was playing at his finest, leading me to assume that he would be our MVP for the night. Dave ended the song with that banjo riff I love so much, and then Jeff jumped right in and started that oh-so-familiar riff that threw us into "Boatman". What a fun start to the show. 

"Thank you folks, and welcome to the beginning of a fun couple of days with ya'll here at the McDonald. Thanks for showin' up tonight." They were all happy and smiling as Jeff said hello and introduced Adam. "Mr. Adam Aijala on the guitar is gonna kick this next one off for us." "I'm lovin' it. Get it?" Adam laughed even more before turning back into the Ice Man for "Polly Put the Kettle On". Oh, it was so good. Everyone's part just got better and better. Adam gave us a solid start, Dave brought some creativity to the melody, and then Jeff just ran with it. All of this while, of course, Ben held us all down with that glorious low end. I love that low end. And then when Dave and Adam came together to finish the song, they literally came together - and the room exploded. 

Ben picked up his bow for "No Expectations" next. I remember back in the day when I felt they played this song too much. Now I can't get enough. I smiled as this song progressed and the solos got more and more intense. When "Honestly" started after that huge "No Expectations", my smile got a little bigger. And when "Honestly" went right into "Honestly", my smile got just about as big as it could get. I absolutely love this whole song, and some songs fit nicely in the middle of it, but you really can't beat a solid "Honestly"> "Honestly". Seriously. Then Jeff stepped up to the mic with a huge smile on his face, "We're particularly excited because we got to meet the newest Yonder fan, she's eleven weeks old and she's here somewhere... our lovely little Viola is back there, I think. Our friends Kristin and Aaron's newest little girl. Boy, is she great. Much like most women I've been in contact with the last 20 years, when I held her she pooped and then she cried. I took great pride in that. It's just so nice to stand here and celebrate good things with you, it's been a crazy-ass world out there lately, so it's good to spread this good energy around, you know? So don't hold back. Dance your asses off tonight, we're all together, you know what I mean?! Let's kick it!" And kick it, they did. Right into "Too Late Now". Like it always does, this song brought an abundance of excitement through the crowd. And although I was 1,800 miles away from Des Moines, I was certainly back home out here on the road.

"That's what I'm talking about. We all get together and spread good things." Jeff was beaming as he took in the energy coursing through the room. "Talkin' about spreading good things... David Johnston down there on the banjo." To which Dave replied, "Don't let me cough on ya, I got a cold!" More laughter, then "Don't Worry Happy Birthday". What a great song. Dave looked out to the crowd as the song ended, stating a simple "Thank you, Eugeners" before Jeff made his final introduction of the night. "On the bass, my friends, givin' your hips the low end they need the entire evening, is Mr. Ben Kaufmann." It was Ben's turn to sing us a love song, and he chose the beautiful "Must've Had Your Reasons". When it was through, Adam took over with a solo that could only precede "Dawn's Early Light". I love this band. "Dawn's" eased in like the sunset, and as I closed my eyes I was taken on one of my favorite Yonder rides. It was a long and tumultuous ride that eventually brought us to "Only a Northern Song". As the tempo increased, so did the dancing. It doesn't really matter what chords they play, what words they say, or what time of day it is... Yonder playing The Beatles is always a good thing. And this song just solidified it - Adam was definitely our VIP of the night. 

I had a really fun setbreak, hanging out at the merch table with a whole bunch of friends. I liked how much space we had for the merch table at the McDonald Theater. There are some venues that don't give Brian very much room at all, but here we were able to gather and have a good time without being crammed or smushed. We talked about the show so far and talked about the days ahead, letting the excitement of tour take over until it was time to run back in for more music. 

"Snow on the Pines" started the second set. "Snow on the (Freakin') Pines"! It was a pretty standard (awesome) version of this song, until it started to break down and Adam started playing something different. Something a little unnerving. Something not quite right. Something completely and totally funky, as a pedal-heavy "King Ebenezer" stepped in. It was so good. I found my way to Ted during this huge jam, which then brought me to one of my favorite dancing buddies, Donuts. We danced our asses off as "King Ebenezer" got dirtier and darker, watching Ted work his magic with the lights. Adam and Jeff took their time bringing "Snow" back in, really playing against each other and creating magic together. When it finally came back in, it did so with an extraordinary passion, something that I could feel deep down inside. They rocked it hard, and then took it heavy with "Angel". This "Angel" had its ups and downs, but when it wrapped up it brought that wonderful bassline back in, and everyone started jumping. 

"New Deal Train" came next. I love what Ben and Adam have done with this song. The simple addition of more harmony vocals has perfected it. "Well thank you very much everybody, what a blast in here so far." Ben looked so happy as he looked out over the sea of people in front of him. "Honestly. Really great. This is David Johnston right here on the David Johnston. All night, folks." Ha! Dave brought us one of his newest songs, "Pass This Way". Then Adam countered with one of his newest, "Lonesome Letter". Jeff took the lead with "Out of the Blue" before passing it over to Ben, who gave us a funky "Criminal". 

They were really getting into their groove, pulling out a quick "Fastball" before flowing into "Left Me in a Hole". That led us into another quickie, "Boots", and then Jeff teased us with a little "Rainbow Connection" before throwing us "Ramblin' in the Rambler". The energy in the room was already so high, but then they took us into "Raleigh and Spencer", and that was it. The end of the set came in with the end of "Rambler", and it was a free-for-all. The crowd could feel the end coming, and they danced their hearts out. 

"Thanks again, ya'll." Jeff waved at the crowd as we all got ready for the encore. "And for those of you that practice the arts, happy 4/20." People cheered, smoke rose from the crowd, and everyone danced as Ben sang "Funtime". It was already a fun encore, but then they brought us one of the best songs to end any night, "High on a Hilltop". As Dave, Ben, and Jeff sang together, I couldn't help but smile. I couldn't help but dance. I couldn't help but be as happy as could be. This was the end of another great show, but the end is only a pause, with the next show never too far away. Luckily, the next show was the next night in the very same room. See you there.

Written by Dorothy St.Claire

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