Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yonder Mountain String Band, 10/29/11, Best Buy Theater, NYC

Yonder Mountain String Band, 10/29/11, Best Buy Theater, NYC
(w/ Infamous Stringdusters & Noam Pikelny)

It's hard to edit photos and write a bloggy when there's no power (and heat). There's also a reason that the opposite of Bikram Yoga never caught on: because it sucks. Now, without further ado, from a warm, electricity filled home office: the Yonder Best Buy review.

A couple of days before this show, my friends Matt & Jen from Boston, whom had talked me into going to Yonder's HoB Boston show last Fall, decided to make the trip down to NYC get their Fall Yonder Fix on. This seemed like a great idea and probably would have gone a lot more smoothly if not for the freak October Snowstorm that slammed into the tri-state region last weekend, bringing with it incredibly wet, heavy snow, that decimated all previously-storm-damaged trees. I thought someone was setting off firecrackers in the neighborhood, but it was actually just tree limbs snapping off like whatever it is that snaps off easily.

The trip from Boston, which should normally take less than 4 hours, took Matt & Jen over 6, as they had to re-route numerous times due to fallen trees closing roads. About an hour before they got to me, our power shit the bed. Fucking hell. Between that, the closed roads trying to get to the Parkway, the shitty drivers who lack the skill to drive in any sort of precipitation, and the fact that we needed to sit down and have a short pregame meal at the Irish Rogue to keep us on the sane path- we didn't actually get to the Best Buy theater until The Infamous Stringdusters had 10 minutes left in their set. This was a real fucking shame, as we were all incredibly psyched to see them. A real fucking shame, as those guys are fucking awesome. We enjoyed listening/watching them from the lobby as we checked our coats and got some booze.

Holy fuck, I was psyched for this show! My ears have been sullied with mostly horrible music at work for weeks, and Yonder were going to re-set my brain with a Cucumber Sorbet of Bluegrassy Fantasticness. This was the plan. And I really wanted to hang in the Dave Zone^, despite it's proximity to the door closest to the entrance. Had a hankerin', can't deny.

The scene was rowdy before the band even took the stage. When they finally did-- total madness! The insanity of Halloween-time shows is an interesting phenomenon. It sets people into Turbo. Views are more obstructed due to wigs, hats, Slutty Cats, and elbows flying into your face. Halloween-time shows seem to grant concert-goers a built-in special permission to get unapologetically As Messy As Possible. It's almost your responsibility to get shit-faced. Or is it?

SET I began with a fantastic Shake Me Up. Super awesome, the crowd was moving, a great First Live Yonder Song of the Fall, and a smart way to start the show. The ENERGY in the room was CHURNING. More highlights in Maid of the Canyon and Part 1. They sounded great, but there were portions of the early part of SET I that kinda lost me. It slowed down a bit a few times and there were some noticeable energy fluctuations. The setlist didn't feel as cohesive as it could have been. However, they fucking blew the fucking room up from the hoppin' Little Rabbit -> through a gorgeous Out of the Blue, and a Holdin' set closer so sweet, you wanted to give it a great, big, giant hug.

The energy plateaus and downgrades are both good and bad. Bad because you WANT that energy and momentum to keep BUILDING. It's layer upon layer of DELICIOUS. That's when Yonder are in their fucking SWEET ZONE. For me, I miss it when it's not like that. Good, because up front in the Dave/Ben Zone, it had become a Total Shit Show and Furry Convention. Large men in fleece onesies were falling over from drunkenness, in between making out with their girlfriends, who could no longer stand up by themselves. Amateur Hour. Anyways-- GOOD, because it calmed some of that Obnoxious Shit down a bit. The band has actually talked about doing this- slowing down the tempo when shit gets too crazy to settle people down. Or, you know, occasionally speeding it up for fun in the same situation, just to see what will happen. And thusly: Yonder on crowd control. I love it. Shit works. Gotta wonder if it was being implemented on this occasion.

As much as I wanted to stay in the Dave/Ben Zone, conditions had deteriorated and it was clearly doomed. It was time to migrate. During setbreak we shifted towards the Jeff/Adam Zone, which was significantly more manageable. Location, location, location! There was, however, one worrisome dude in a sombero about 4 feet in diameter, who really liked to dance.

SET II picked up with a driving energy in Down the River Road. Awesome. So so happy that we moved into safer real estate. The mid-set kind of mellowed out a bit again (though I do have a soft spot for Crazy), but Spanish Harlem Incident lit a fucking fuse that burned through the rest of the show. It left the room buzzing.

Then, The Infamous Stringdusters and Noam Pikelny from The Punch Brothers came out (they had been "percolating backstage") and joined Yonder for the duration of the show. This is when the real shit went down. THIS is what we came to see, hear, & feel. Let's be real-- it's always a real fucking treat when the guest musicians ADD to the show rather than SUBTRACT (I'm looking at you, Bob Weir.), and these guys absolutely BROUGHT IT. They took turns completely RAGING Pretty Daughter & Death Trip, which were INTENSE & EVIL. The energy in the room was on fire. The fuse was burning. It felt gooood. Fuck yeah. The inconvenience of an Encore Break split up what was undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of the evening. They ALL came back out and did a really fun, rollicking, Up On The Hill Where They Do the Boogie. Great energy. And then they fucking ripped the shit out of a MASSIVE Let Me Fall, wherein the room fucking exploded with greatness! KABOOM!! Goddamn, I really wanted to hear that song!!! Thank you, Yonder Mountain String Band! Let Me Fall Craving: Satiated. Awesome.

a Furry disrobes

Jeff thanks the crowd for continuing to throw things at the band.

So so so glad that the show ended on such an high note like that. It certainly wasn't the best Yonder show I've ever seen, it wasn't my favorite setlist, but they sounded great, and the chunks of awesome that appeared at strategic moments made this a great show. It definitely did the trick, I got my Fall Yonder Fix on. That energized ending left me thirsty for so much more, and I won't get to see them again for months-- GRRRRRR...

I was also glad that after making such a shiteous trek down, Jen & Matt were rewarded with a fun show. We went back to a chilly house, but the leftover Infamous Yonder Brothers Glow (and the fact that I cranked the heat after the first couple of power surges in the early afternoon, expecting the worst) kept us warm through the night.

Thanks to Yonder for more fun. Apologies to The Stringdusters for missing their set. Just means they'll have to come back soon. And Goddamnit Yonder, why don't you play NYC more often??? Yonder Mountain String Band w/ fantastic guests The Infamous Stringdusters & Noam Pikelny, 10/29/11, Best Buy Theater, NYC: 8 HUZZAHS!!!


Shake Me Up
All The Time
Must've Had Your Reasons
Maid of the Canyon
Part 1 ->
Finally Saw the Light ->
Lay It On The Line
Just Like Old Times
Little Rabbit ->
Out of the Blue

Down the River Road
One More
Far From You
Sometimes I've Won
Spanish Harlem Incident
Pretty Daughter*
Death Trip*

Up On the Hill Where They Do the Boogie*
Let Me Fall*

* w/ The Infamous Stringdusters & Noam Pikelny from the Punch Brothers

** The show isn't up on archive or etree yet, but as soon as it is, the link to DOWNLOAD will be here**


^ aka "Bevo side"