written by Dorothy St.Claire
I couldn't believe this was happening. I was doing it. A whole tour. Yes, this Spring Tour was much shorter than most, but I could still say (for the first time) that I was doing a whole tour. I worked it out with so many friends, and I started my journey in Seattle with my old hometown friend, Claude.
I went to The Neptune waaay too early and basically spent the few hours before doors just bouncing off the walls with excitement. Hanging with Brian as he set up his merch table, watching Ted get his lights ready, watching Hines stand in various parts of the venue checking sound, and then seeing the boys do their soundcheck had my arms covered in goosebumps; the hair on my neck standing up. It was a show day, and I couldn't think of any better kind of day.
The venue filled up very slowly. Folks here were not concerned with getting to the venue early, but when opening band Head for the Hills took the stage, the people came. Again, Yonder was introducing me to a band I had yet to see. They were great and they got me really pumped for the rest of the night.
I was beyond excited as Dave, Ben, Jeff, and Adam took the stage. The air was filled with hoots and hollers from every direction, and turned into cheers as the show started with Dave and his energetic "Little Lover". I couldn't even really take photos, I was just so excited and so happy. In fact, I couldn't think of another time where I heard a "Little Lover" opener, and I was going to enjoy it. "Sidewalk Stars" came in nice and loud, and then, yes, "Ain't Been Myself In Years". I get a little teary-eyed every time I hear Jeff sing this Burle song. I just think it's one of the most beautiful songs and I feel so lucky each time I get to hear it.
"All the Time" came next, with its peppy and depressingly real lyrics. I love this song and I love how much energy and emotion Adam puts into it. I was still relishing in "All the Time" when Dave and Adam started "Night is Left Behind" and I had to keep myself from crumpling to the floor. I love this song, and it's another one that resonates deep inside. I was beaming by the time it ended. Jeff introduced Ben to a lot of cheers, "Next to me on the bass is Ben Kaufmann, everyone." "Thank you for liking me... those of you who cheered, anyway. Some of you didn't down here... it's ok." And then he counted us off and we were dancing to "Sometimes I've Won". I walked to the side of the stage to take some photos during this song, only to stumble upon Danny freakin' Barnes tuning his banjo. I can't even describe what I was feeling at this moment. Danny is one of my absolute favorites.
"We figured it's the first night we might as well have a little pick." Jeff was grinning ear to ear as he introduced his friend. "And welcome, really, one of our dearest musical buddies and one of the best darn musicians in the whole wide world, Mr. Danny Barnes, everybody." Dave growled "Barnes!" into the mic as Danny got plugged in and tuned up, and Jeff warned us that they would be singing a twisted love song before starting "Pretty Daughter". The music was dark and demented. The lights were frantic and frenzied. And Danny's hair blew in the wind.
"Hey Danny" Dave said to the giant of a man with his hair flowing in the wind. "Do you wanna play a banjo song with me?" And then Dave started the unmistakable melody of "Dear Old Dixie". Hell yes. Dave and Danny back and forth on this good old bluegrass song was everything you would want it to be, and more. I know Yonder isn't necessarily pure bluegrass, but they sure can play it when they want to. They shredded the instrumental bluegrass tune, and then totally switched gears and threw us a "Ragdoll". Danny helped Jeff write this song, and it was fun to hear what he had to bring to it tonight. "Now this is how you get a damn tour started... that's all I'm sayin'." There were a lot of laughs on stage before Ben counted us off and busted into "Casualty" to finish off the set.
I had a fun set break hanging out at the merch booth with Brian and my street team, and as it always does, time flew by and I had to get ready for the second set. The crowd was so rowdy that I made the choice to stay out of it tonight. I think this was actually my first show where I didn't hang out in the audience. It was definitely different, but as I watched the craziness on the floor, I was happy with my choice. The set opened as Jeff and Adam came together for "Cuckoo's Nest", creating a bounce that flowed through the whole building. "Cuckoo's Nest" crashed into "Bolton Stretch", and the energy only grew. Adam brought us into his groove with a nice and jammy "Pockets" before Dave came in and bluegrassed it all up with "Don't You Lean On Me".
It looked like the band was having a really good time, and I was certainly having a really good time, especially when they upped the energy even more with "If I Lose" and "Free To Run". I was on cloud nine as I danced to two of my favorite tunes, and I couldn't help but think of how lucky I was that I had the chance to be here in Seattle tonight, and following them for the whole tour. For once, I knew I wouldn't miss a thing. The good times just kept coming as "Free To Run" went into a full stand-alone "Traffic Jam". The bass was thumping and people were shouting as we all danced together, and when Dave took off with his solo, I didn't think it could get any better.
"Irondale" kept the Dave train moving and then a wonderful "Jail Song" had me pulling my jaw up from the floor. The best versions of this song always come from the Ben and Adam solo shows, and they brought a little of that with them tonight. Ben added his harmony vocals to the final verse, and I was transported right to Mabon as I listened to the beauty coming from the speakers. Dave busted out "Deep Pockets" before we got to the nitty gritty; the big kahuna; the end-of-set jamwich. The buzz in the air exploded as Jeff screamed his count and started "Peace of Mind". It was just what we needed to end this first night of tour, and just like everyone else, I let go and danced my ass off as "Peace of Mind" settled into itself. It was nice and long and incredibly funky, and soon Jeff's strums changed to that familiar riff that brought us into "Girlfriend is Better". Nice. The "POM"> "Girlfriend" sandwich was so good, but as "Peace of Mind" came back in I had to replace my fan hat with my photographer hat and capture the magic. The energy of the band was matched by the energy of the crowd as Jeff and Ben sang "You and I" back and forth. It was an explosive end to the set.
Everyone clapped and cheered, but we were given a bit of a breather as the boys came out and played Split Lip Rayfield's "Crazy" to start the encore. I never really understood this song in the encore slot, but as long as it wasn't alone, I would be ok. And it sure wasn't alone. A ripping "Spanish Harlem Incident" came through and finished off the night.
This was a really fun show to start the tour, and I was ecstatic that it was only the beginning.
Written by Dorothy St.Claire
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