There is something classic about the heart of downtown Chicago, a draw to it that is undeniable. A hop away from the Chicago river, and below the cities attractive skyline; The House of Blues lights up the night. Though the House of Blues is a smaller venue it has an antique design and has a calling like no other venue, perhaps just for the popular name yet on Saturday evening the draw was worthy for the amazing, and talented band Yonder Mountain String Band with Danny Barnes opening on the banjo. Yonder has thrived for years playing their string instruments redefining and expanding the thoughts of bluegrass and creating upbeat mixtures of genres that have highly influenced these musicians. Chicago has a great music scene and this band blew away all those tasting the night life with a two night run selling out the HOB.
As soon as you enter the doors and get checked by the stern security, walking up the stairs leading to the theater section you can sense the excitement and anxiousness the audience had awaiting the band to come on. The packed and crammed audience released amazing energy for the second evening of their performances in Chicago. As the band stepped out a hoop and holler roared from the crowd as you glanced upon the content and thrilled faces of Yonder about to play their first notes. Accompanying the band for the evening was Darol Anger on the fiddle adding a spice to the classic Yonder songs threw out the show.
Yonder mesmerizes the audience stepping out and opening with the song “Ten” and into “Blue Collar Blues”. The Band has an incredible stage presence always acting as though they are performing in a small bub or something along those lines. The intimacy this band creates with the audience is a great feeling and when playing such down home music as bluegrass it truly adds something spectacular to this bands appeal. With in the first two songs you can automatically see the passion and fire stroked into every beat played and is well reflected in the audiences reaction. Overlooking the occupants you cant help but notice the energy, their crazy two-steps and continuous movements is undeniably part of the show as the band continues to strum along creating melodies which make your feet tap along without even trying.
Continuing in the first set with the song” Deep Pockets”, which is played with such joy, this song emphasizing on the carefree vibes this band protrudes; the lyrics flow magnificently and you cannot help but chuckle a bit when you actually make sense of what the song is saying. The set went forward playing some old songs and only including a few songs from their new album which came out the beginning of September. The first set entranced the audience, the band generating such worthy hype from the attendees. The conclusion of set one with “Polly Put the Kettle on” then “ No Expectations” left the crowd craving for an explosive continuance of the enriching music streaming to their ears.
After an antsy set break giving reflection on whats been played and weighing out what might be in store Yonder came back out with a roar and thunder. Beginning with “ Looking Back Over your Shoulder” into the fun filled rhythms of “ Bad Moon Rising”, the set bumped up the intensity as it began. There is a certain happiness in the way this band puts forth their music, always dancing around and getting crazy on stage as the audience is thriving back with chaos.
Instrumentally the band is inc readably impressive, rapid plucking of each string coming together to form breathtaking tunes. The band consists of four amazing men from Colorado who have a great time sharing their passions. Playing in tune with one another so well, the chemistry of their presence together is unique and brings a different light to the band. Ben Kaufmann bumping on bass bouncing around playing with delight in every beat as well as adding his vocal charm; Jeff Austin adds spectacular instrumentals on the mandolin and hysterical vocals that brings out the laughter. Adam Aijala strums on the guitar with a flare that creates a great visual attraction to his playing and Dave Johnston takes away the stage with his banjo skills. All the members contribute with vocals on several songs and during this performance Darol Anger contributed a different spice to the usual Yonder show with his fiddle playing.
The second set thrilled the audience, impromptu string jams and glued eyes to the instruments created a fulfilling evening of great music. The set brought some great dance music playing songs the band has created themselves as well as covering some legends such as “ Come Together” by the infamous Beatles and “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers. The set expanded on the thoughts of this band strictly being a stereotypical bluegrass band but they know how to expand and play different genres with acoustical talent. The opener Danny Barnes came out to perform several songs in the second set showing his skills sharing the stage with the band. “Traffic Jam” concluded the set as the audience educed chaos that created a great climax to an altogether mind blowing performance that traps the attendees into screams for one last song which lead to two. Encoring with terrific choices of “Crazy” and the heartfelt song “Good Hearted Woman”, Yonder stole the hearts of the audience members as they continue to amaze with every performance.