This past Friday night at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco was definitely way better than being at work. Keep that between us... Colorado band Yonder Mountain String Band hit the stage with an excited audience ready to jam out all night long to the styling's of YMSB. Getting to the show was easy and when we arrived it looked as though nobody was there. The place must have been packing up as we were waiting for some dinner upstairs. As the band started to play I made my way to a nice spot in the middle where the sound was perfect. The lights that were up were the perfect compliment to the mood that overtakes you by being in such a wonderful place knowing that the night, most importantly the music, was only beginning.
They opened up the set with Illinois rain which was led in by a nice rolling banjo and slapping mandolin, followed by a nice trade off of solos between the band. The floor was shaking with smiling people getting down to the grass...bluegrass. People were hooting and hollering, and just as they started into the second song, Fingerprint, that crazy feeling that takes over your body, that only bluegrass can do, started to kick in. Between the energetic rhythmic playing of Yonder Mountain, layered with flowing melodies wrapping around each other, the band took off. The first few songs were a little mellower than what was seen later, but the sound and sure technique of the band did not go unnoticed. The dueling nature of bluegrass and the ability of Jeff, Dave, Ben, and Adam together, leaves you perplexed with happiness with the attitude of the bands jams. The banjo rolls, the bass slaps hard creating a pulsating heart beat, the guitar slides up and around the rhythm, and then Jeff Austin takes the mandolin and brings the fire. Then the mood changes and all the sudden the banjo is charging with full speed backed up by a perplexing full blend of strings. Also thrown in towards the end of the first set was a beautiful faster version of The Beatles, And your Bird Can Sing. Closing the second set with such energy with Fastball, to Dawn's, to MOS, supported by an amazing explosion of a light performance left everyone craving the second set.
During set break I went outside to find my older brother who had gotten off work late arriving at the show. Excited to see him and fill him in on what he had missed, and eager to see the next set, we heading in and found a nice spot in the middle again. We talked about living in Boulder before moving out to San Fran, and about some fun Yonder shows in Boulder. Even though were far from the Rockies, hearing Yonder brings you there. The second came in with the same eagerness and energy that one could expect from these guys at such a great venue. Starting with Death Trip into Just the same was great and the momentum just kept growing. Life's to Short into a jammed out KY Mando gave the audience the fix that everyone expected to get from the show, and now everyone was extremely happy to be there. They did a beautiful How Bout you, which was probably one of my favorites of the night. The guitar part with the light bends are so enticing and the vocals are a perfect addition to the light soulful feel and style of the song. At this point in the night the jams and solos were trading off and flowing so smooth in the true bluegrass spirit and fashion. Ending the set with a trade off between POM, Angel, and Riverside left me stunned with excitement and the thrill I had been seeking. They finished us off with a two song encore, and left me wandering my mind in search of a safe place to store the memory of this show. Friday night, no work, Yonder.
First Set Illinois Rain, Fingerprint, Town, Mossy Cow, Rag Doll, Counter Reaction, Spanish Harlem, Winds O' WY, And your Bird Can Sing, New Deal Train, Fastball, Dawn's Early Light, MOS.
Second Set Death Trip, Just the Same, Big Spike Hammer, Life's Too Short, KY Mando, Steep Grade, How Bout You, Granny, Criminal, POM, Angel, Riverside, Angel, POM.