Thursday, July 26, 2012

Yonder Mountain String Band, 7/15 & 18/12, Penn's Peak, PA & Brooklyn Bowl, NYC

Yonder Mountain String Band
7/15/12, Penn's Peak, PA
7/18/12, Brooklyn Bowl, NYC

SUNDAY, 7/15/12

Pantless and the show hadn't even started yet. Lemme 'splain. I was running late before I got caught in a downpour and then again behind some fat people on a motorcycle going under the speed limit for 20+ minutes on a rural road, which made me even later. When I was finally on the final approach to Penn's Peak, a cool ghostly spooky type mist surrounded the mountain. My phone rang as I was speeding up the driveway, and 4dice, of East Fordiceville, told me that there was a thunderstorm about to pass over the parking lot, and they were probably going to hide in the cars. "I have the EZ Up!!! I'll be there in 30 seconds. I SEE YOU!" I gave him the finger, pulled into the space they had saved me, and jumped out of the car as large raindrops began to fall. I looked West at the lightning strikes just over the treeline. We quickly debated the merits of the EZ Up shelter, and it was probably-- no, not probably, it was definitely a bad idea. But somehow or another, no one talked me out of putting the EZ Up, up, and soon at least a couple of us were pretty much gung-ho about popping it up and holding down the fort, and that was just... a mistake. And it really is EZ Up, which is impressive. But then the balls of the storm hit us square across the jaw, and we were busy holding the cover down so it didn't turn into a giant sale when we just happen to look down and notice the 2 inches of rushing water we were now standing in-- as we were clearly located just downstream from Penn's actual Peak. "FUCK." And then the rain came in sideways and our clothes got soaked too. "FUCK" and then we realized this was a rapidly losing battle and we would have to bail, but the light show was pretty fucking awesome and this team-building activity was at least keeping us busy instead of sitting in a fucking car and being bored. "FUCK… WHY DIDN'T ANY OF YOU TALK ME OUT OF THIS???? THIS IS YOUR FAULT." Dismantling the shelter went pretty smoothly, except for that last little fucking button on the inside of the top corner of the last leg to collapse that you have to be a Hulk Child to have the perfect combination of finger size and strength in order to release. Just. What a mess. A mess entirely captured on tape by Pam, and presented to you, here, right now.

We retreated back to the cars to drink and dry our clothes on the highest heaters for the next 30 minutes while the storm cell passed. I had a change of sneakers and shirt, but no extra pants, which is stupid and my own fault, because if there's one thing Puke Butt taught us all those years ago, it was "always bring a change of pants" and I just fucking blew it.

Anyways, let's hear it for heated car seats, eh? I drank a lot of Tequila. Like, a lot. Eventually my shorts dried and the rain mostly passed (mostly). It was time to head inside for...


If you're going to travel to the middle of nowhere, PA to see a band, you're probably pretty into the band you're going to see. This is a portion of my working theory as to the reason why these Penn's Peak shows are so magical-- because everyone there wants to be there. "There" being, a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere in the Poconos. The air is sweeter when it's filled with love… love that's been drinking for hours in the parking lot, but love nonetheless. My crew was definitely rockin' and in great spirits-- we were destined for a good night.

We quickly found ourselves up front on Adam side and eventually Yonder came out and busted it wide open with a ridiculously strong Death Trip. Ahh, it was good to be back breathing the air in this room. The band looked happy and genuinely ecstatic to be there. It was an ass kicking first set. They played soooo many songs I wanted to hear. Highlights: Paul and Silas! And the entire chunk starting with Redbird, Going Up, Bloody Mary Morning, Pockets, Oklahoma (YESSSS!!!!!!!) -> After Midnight -> Oklahoma. Just. WOW. What a perfect chunk! It was as if the pre-show electrical storm had conjured up some sort of excited haunting energy and the room was possessed, breathing it as one. Is Penn's Peak built on ancient Native American holy or burial ground? I want to know. This is another portion of my working theory.

Ben gave us the good news and the bad news. The good news: the venue itself is actually an Ark, so we were all safe. The bad news? That meant 2 Banjos. Jeff told everyone they weren't going to work tomorrow. This was not a problem on my end.

Set II began with a temporary lapse in that magical energy, but the room was eager to get back there, and the band egged us along from the start with Rambler. My favorite part of the set was when Jeff complimented my Todd Snider t-shirt and then proceeded to play Just Like Old Times. "Wait… Whaaat?" Did that just happen? It did. No big deal. Pretty Daughter was dark and lovely. I do love me some bloody violence. Only a Northern Song was a sweet treat- so fun, and to see them capture it live was fantastic. That had to take some work. King Ebeneezer-- Jeff In The Zone, the room was MOVING, SEETHING, PULSATING- and then a high energy Ruuuuuby! to close out the set. The room was screaming. A darling Encore, and then it was off to the lot, where rainbow Goldfish were murdered for sport. That is just how it goes in violent times like these.

Penn's Peak, 7/15/12

Set I:
Death Trip
Night Out
Paul and Silas
Straight Line
Maid of the Canyon
Fine Excuses
Going Up
Bloody Mary Morning
After Midnight>

Set II:
Rambling in the Rambler>
New Speedway Boogie>
Midwest Gospel Radio>
Rambling in the Rambler
Jail Song
Just Like Old Times
Pretty Daughter
Sidewalk Stars
Only a Northern Song
King Ebeneezer

Sometimes I've Won
Hill Country Girl

DOWNLOAD THE SHOW!, Thanks Again, Jack Riley!

WEDNESDAY, 7/18/12

I'd been super psyched for this Brooklyn Bowl show since the second I read the news, as it would most certainly be a very special show in a very intimate venue.

I wore a Pavement t-shirt, on the off-chance that Jeff might see it and decide to play Date With Ikea or Folk Jam. It was worth a shot. The plan was to meet up early at Brooklyn Bowl for Fried Chicken. And then 2 parallel horizontal lines of thunderstorms stretching directly over each route into NYC were due to hit at the start of Rush Hour. Instead, they hit a little earlier than that. The city flooded. What this roughly meant for those of us who drove in, was that it took between 2 and 3 hours to get to Williamsburg, as every major artery in NYC became flooded and/or closed in the heavy downpours. I got to drive through about 1 1/2 feet of water on the FDR near the Triboro, which was actually pretty fun, but I also wondered as I stood still under the Gracie Mansion Overpass, whether or not I'd survive a jump off the cement columns supporting the roadway into the rushing East River, and whether I could fight the current and swim to the Brooklyn Waterfront Park and walk the last 5 blocks and get to Brooklyn Bowl any sooner than I would sitting in my fucking car for 2 fucking goddamn fucking hours. One of our entourage on foot almost got hit by a lightning strike in Union Square. And the worst news of all was that by the time we got to Brooklyn Bowl, the wait for a table was so horrendously long (why aren't there more tables? GAAAAH!!!!) that we ended up going around the corner to Mable's BBQ for dinner instead. And yes, it was pretty damn good, but I'm not going to lie-- I had been psyching myself up for Fried Chicken for 2 weeks at that point. And Collard Greens with Thick Cut chunks of Bacon -> Yonder?? Siiigh.

Along for the ride were a few friends (henceforth known as: The Subjects) I had kind of roped in with either constant harassment or casual conversation. They were already cranky from the commute and hunger pains. Ye gads this would be a touchy meal.

The Subjects:
Subject A had heard Yonder Mountain String Band on tape and enjoyed some of it, but had never seen them live and was on the fence.

Subject B has seen Yonder live, but it's not his cup of tea. However, he seemed to be a willing participant in the night's activities, so I was hoping he'd at least have a good time.

Subject C had neither seen nor heard Yonder ever, nor did I think he'd enjoy them, and had even mentioned that he may want to reconsider his decision to go, but he was adamant about getting credit for liking "all types of music", and I asked him to agree not to "bust anyone's heads".

Me. HI!!

Old Guy From Wetlands

The Subjects' Meals:
Subject A

Subject B

Subject C

Mine. YUM!

The Yonder insults began flying on the walk to dinner, continued throughout the meal, and back to the venue into the minutes before the show began. "I can't believe they don't have a Drummer." "It can't be Rock n Roll if there's no Drummer." "This better not suck." "Let's go get my iPod from your car now, in case I want to leave early, because I'm going to want to leave early." "You know what? I'm just going to leave now." "How many dissatisfied people will you actually be reimbursing for their tickets later?" Eventually, this drizzle of borderline good-natured ribbing turned into a deluge of hostility. I was over it. Dave (who was also at Penn's Peak) and I abandoned the rising waters and headed up close to stand in front of a Banjo.


The band walked out and boy, did they look positively GIDDY. They were ready to ROCK. For those of us who braved the weather in order to get there, we got a New Horizons to kick off the show. -> Kentucky Mandolin, which I may have lost my shit over cuz I had really wanted to hear that at Penn's Peak and was so psyched to get to hear it right there. Killer set. Catch A Criminal, Idaho, Rag Doll. Troubled Mind -> 20 Eyes -> Troubled Mind sandwich. Lots of energy, lots of dancing. And the band getting evil with Angel -> Riverside (including Demonic Jeff Monologue) -> Angel. HOT DAMN.

We regrouped at setbreak, except for Subject B, who had gotten a ride with a friend who was enjoying herself, but was heading out to see the Spin Doctors at Rockwood Music Hall. Subject A gave me the "I prefer traditional Bluegrass" and the "but they're talented" Schpiel. Subject C tried to be nice while simultaneously and passive aggressively judging the instrument playing skills of the band. Subject D, whom I didn't mention until just now, because this was the first time I ran into her, sort of rolled her eyes at me and seemed astounded at how much I was enjoying it. I figured there would be some detractors, but this was a bit silly. When did Yonder Mountain String Band become such a polarizing subject? I'd like to note that everyone else in the SOLD OUT crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves IMMENSELY. YONDAAAA!!!

We stayed back (the sound directly in front of Dave/Ben was a bit wonky and it got PACKED up there) for the start of Set II, which opened with a Casualty performed only the way a band full of perfectly delectable Fried Chicken could perform it, and when the last note was struck, Subject A announced, "Okay, I'm out." Really?! … Whatever. NO REFUNDS, SUCKER! We hung back a bit more until Yonder's alluring Come Hither call became too loud to ignore, and Dave and I darted up front into the Jeff/Adam Zone. They pulled out an awesome Snow On the Pines -> CUCKOO'S NEST (they really kept hitting my favorites this run!) -> Snow On the Pines -> one of the loudest and most ass-kickingest Raleigh & Spencers I've ever been a part of. WOW. Great fun! Old Guy From Wetlands was totally jumping up and down for this. They encored with a sweet Steam Powered Aeroplane and a fast and delicious Down the River Road.

Jeff said they hope to come back to Brooklyn Bowl and stay for more than one night next time. That'd be pretty kewl.

Subject C definitely realized that sometimes he doesn't "like all types of music", but he made it through the entire show and since we are the only ones who ate Pickled Beets at dinner, I can only wonder if perhaps they were the key to the night. Either that, or he just wanted a ride home.

GREAT shows. Psyched to have been to both, for this will help tide me over until their next stop through NYC, which I'm hoping will be sometime this Fall and just hasn't been announced yet. Totes saucesome seeing my wonderful Yonder-Lovin' friends and sharing such lovely music with them (I hope next time they can all come to Brooklyn Bowl too). Totes confused as to why the other folks wouldn't enjoy Yonder, but then again, I don't like the Grateful Dead or Raggaeton, so… Ehh, what are ya gonna do? ROCK OUT ANYWAYS. WEEEDILLY WEEEDILLLY, YEEEHAAW!!

Yonder Mountain String Band, 7/15 & 18/12, Penn's Peak, PA, and Brooklyn Bowl, NYC: 9.7* HUZZAHS!!!!!

Brooklyn Bowl, 7/18/12

Set I:
New Horizons>
Kentucky Mandolin>
New Horizons
Catch A Criminal
Rag Doll
Don't You Lean On Me
Troubled Mind>
20 Eyes>
Troubled Mind
Night Out
New Deal Train

Set II:
Don't Worry, Happy Birthday
One More
Elzic's Farewell>
What the Night Brings
Finally Saw the Light
Maid of the Canyon
Ain't No Way of Knowing
Another Day
Snow on the Pines>
Cuckoo's Nest>
Snow on the Pines>
Raleigh and Spencer

Steam Powered Aeroplane
Down the River Road

DOWNLOAD LINK TBD… Or you can buy it from


* Points deducted for lack of Fried Chicken or Crow Black Chicken for that matter. Or Traffic Jam.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

moe., 6/26 & 27/12, Beekman Beer Garden, NYC

moe., 6/26 & 27/12, Beekman Beer Garden,
South Street Seaport, NYC

6/26/12, TUESDAY

The last time I was at the Seaport, I had just successfully not-puked next to John Prine, but that's another story, and the Water Taxi was entirely to blame for that moment of awkwardness. This time around I got there early (via Ground Transportation) and found a Rockstar Parking spot that turned legal at 6PM, so I did what any other self-respecting New Yorker would do, and waited in my car for 45 minutes. So what? It was a decision that I struggled with. Quite frankly, I was fucking starving and there was a late night special at a lot down the block, where I could have relegated myself to paying $15, and gotten out of my car and found some lunch/dinner to create a base of nutrition for the grueling hours of work that lay ahead, which would probably have been the smart thing to do. Or I could have waited in my car for 45 minutes next to the bag of Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies that I had brought for the band, and saved $15. That's $5 for every 9 minutes. For a good 15 minutes I texted friends asking them to help me make the decision. They spoke of Pastrami Heaven, a place where I was not. At the half-hour-to-go mark, I decided I was way too hungry to wait (and with every minute, I was creating less of a bargain for myself-- if I was going to bail at that point, it had gone up to $5 for every 6 minutes left). No, the Jew in me would suck it up and pay. A $15 parking special was a pretty good deal considering the scarce parking situation down in the South Street Seaport. I released the brake and was about to shift into gear when a car pulled up alongside my driver window and mimed the "are you leaving?" motion. Survival Instinct took over and I found myself involuntarily shaking my head while I mouthed back "no, sorry." The brake went back on and I ate 2 cookies. It's all a blur from there til when the reinforcements showed up, the parking spot turned legal, and the doors opened at 6PM.

Security pretty much waved us inside, gave a salute, and told us to enjoy the show. I felt welcome. The place was teeny. Like, smaller than the original beer tent at moe.down teeny. The view was gorgeous-- looking up the East River at all the beautiful NY Bridges, with the rolling grey clouds passing overhead. This would be cool. Some of the rail had already been claimed, but there was a bit of space in between al. and rob. that no one was paying attention to. My priorities were: pee, eat, drink, claim territory. If the spot was still empty when we got back to it, then it was meant to be. While I was waiting for my snack portion of the To Do list, Gullo went over to the vicinity of the front to keep an eye on the prize. TEAMWORK! Here's where I'll tell you that the Pulled Pork Nachos that the dude at the counter recommended did not live up to his hype. They were merely a pile of okay. Look elsewhere for your nourishment, future Beekman Beer Garden patrons.

Pork Lovers

"Really? No one is going to stand here?" Nope. No one wanted to stand there. Is this because Rob doesn't smile for the first half hour of the show anymore? Well, shit- it's sad to watch, but yah-- I'll just have to take one for the team. Soon the show began with Crab Eyes, a fantastic theme for the haunted desperation lurking amongst the inhabitants of Manhattan. Other highlights: a bouncy Nebraska, an uplifting Spine, and a super rockin' hardcore core shaking MEAT. Quite cathartic. I needed that Rocking Out.

Maybe he had the Pork Nachos.

Set II was a rockin' fucking onslaught of heavy moe. madness. Highlights: SOMP -> Sensory Deprivation Bank. An energetic Threw It All Away. Hi & Lo was quite beautiful. And they had been teasing Timmy for a while, so I was psyched when they pulled out a shredding version to close the set.

As the band came out for the Encore, everyone looked on horrified as Paz De La Huerta's completely busted 3rd cousin barreled through the front 4-5 rows of people and trampled a man in a wheelchair, fist-pumped what she considered a successful relocation (or tried to figure out why she was at a concert when a moment earlier she was on her knees in a Public Parks bathroom-- it was hard to distinguish), before realizing no one appreciated her shenanigans or was going to let her stay there-- "there" being, quite literally, on top of the dude in the wheelchair's armrests. Awkward. She settled instead, for drunkenly/violently heaving her hideous (it had tassels, you guys) orange leather gigantic hobo purse onto the stage in front of Rob, who immediately grabbed it and pretended to run away. But then he was nice and put it back down and played the encore instead. I might have taken her wallet out and tossed it in the East River first, but clearly Rob is a better person than I. The terrible woman quickly reclaimed the bag about 15 seconds later, perhaps realizing she was at a concert instead of a Sample Sale or the coatroom of The Gaslight, but once again-- spastically climbing over the guy in the wheelchair to get it. Keep it classy, bitch-ho.

After we all experienced that moment of terrible humanity together (I believe our unspoken group outrage and very clear body language resulted in us emerging from witnessing the trauma as a stronger family/communiity-- ie, "We don't want that type of person up here in our Happy Zone"), the Encore was a really fucking sweet Tambourine-- and I felt it in HERE (pointing to my heart). It felt real good. A sorbet course. And then a thrashy loud Skrunk dessert to cliff-hang us into the following night.

Chuck and David Lowery have similar glasses-slipping-down-their-nose issues, but I think it's kind of endearing.

Other fun moments from the show: Rob playing with a bass pedal during a solo for a few minutes and a friend spending the entire time complaining about how awful the pedal sounded, while threatening to lean over onto the stage and smack it off. For the record, I was totally groovin' to it, but will admit that he had a point-- it did kind of almost sound like some sort of Monotoned Sustained Fart. Rob's Monotoned Sustained Fart Pedal. Eventually he stamped it off and proceeded to rock the fuck out of a crystal clear solo of fabulous non-farty goodness, and we cheered him on.

6/26/12 SETLIST
I: Crab Eyes, The Road, Nebraska, Spine Of A Dog > So Long > Meat
II: Seat Of My Pants > Sensory Deprivation Bank, Threw It All Away, The Ghost Of Ralph's Mom, Hi and Lo > Moth > Timmy Tucker
Encore: Tambourine, Skrunk

Still waiting on my favorite copy of the show. Here's a link to the search as new copies get added:

6/27/12, WEDNESDAY

Before getting into Wednesday's recap, you should understand the geographic difficulties of driving down to the South Street Seaport on a good day. There's never NO traffic on the FDR. Now realize that on the Wednesday afternoon of the moe. show, there was an accident that completely closed the Cross Bronx Expressway at the same exact time the Yankees day game let out, and it still hadn't been cleared by 4:30PM, and Rush Hour inbound at the GWB starts roughly around 5PM, and if the Cross Bronx is closed, basically this means EVERYTHING HAS ALREADY STOPPED. And that is how my journey began: sitting in traffic for well over an hour trying to get to the fucking onramp. And THEN when they finally opened the Cross Bronx again, and I fiiiinally got across the bridge, it was only to get stuck in FDR Rush Hour Traffic. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get to the Seaport. By that time, it was barely worth looking for a parking spot, cuz I was so angry I just needed to start drinking. So, rationalizing that I parked for free on Tuesday, if I scored the $15 night special at the garage, that would be $7.50/parking for 2 nights, and that's not fucking bad at all. I should note here that I refrained from pulling a K-turn in the middle of a busy NYC street in order to score a street spot, for fear that in this particular 'hood, crawling with the Po-Po, on this day, at this hour, when it seemed the travel Gods were already conspiring against me, I was only asking for a ticket that would surely cost more than $15. I pulled into the garage and asked the attendant to please wait 30 seconds while I swigged tequila out of a Nalgene bottle (easy for travel) before finally getting out of the car at 7:00PM.

This guy got out and smoked a cigar.

Annnnd, BREATHE. Okay. I met up with Joanne, who had taken my extra, and had been biding her time while I was in traffic, by drinking beer out of a paper bag while walking around Fulton Street. This would be her first moe. show, and she was preparing herself wisely. I had been getting texts along the way, alerting me that security were being incredibly thorough this time around, but it wasn't until I saw the random latex glove on the sidewalk that I knew it was serious. Fortunately, I was not probed, though they did open my earplug and glasses cases, and checked every one of the 3 pouches in my purse at least twice. I wonder what possibly could have happened the night before that would lead to this sort of checkpoint? Oh, moe. played.

Smell the glove.

When we finally got inside, we found the regular crew, including a cameo by the one and only D. Mighty, who had apparently already gotten in trouble for stealing hors d'oeuvres off the trays of the private party that a Banking Firm was having on the "beach" patio. No respect for the velvetty ropes. Oooh, velvetty.

Side note: I just said outloud to nobody, "How did I drink all of this already? Is there a hole in this?"

Back to Dan being cheap and not buying his snacks from the Snack Bar. It was good to see the old gang back in action like this. They had situated us against the VIP fence which was separating the GA area from the East River. Throughout the first set, Gullo systematically moved the metal barrier closer to the water an inch at a time.

moe. welcomed us back with a warm Bring It Back Home -> Wind It Up. The set was pretty groovy, with Big World -> Ricky Marten -> Time Ed pushing us into the loud drunk and energetic portion of the night. Rainshine was enjoyable -> a super phatty fun Dr. Graffenberg that shoved us into setbreak.

The true highlight of Set I, however, was when D. Mighty thought the clear liquid in the plastic dixie cup I was holding was water and took a giant swig. It was tequila. He forced it down and took it like a champ. He probably didn't want to waste it.

Carton of Water vs. Plastic Cup of Tequila, and my new friend Megan (I think?)

Peep the Security standing on a chair on the right

Set II! Blue Eyed Son was a real nice treat. Zed Naught Z took it up a notch and we hit what was arguably the Drunk Plateau, where we lived for approximately -> George -> us moving to the back to be able to breathe comfortably and hang out because we were exhausted by then and also I wanted fries, which were delicious -> Billy Goat -> Zed Naught Z. By then the People Watching became a sport. Joanne had spotted her first Hula Hooper and announced, "That's not impressive."

The NYPD Marine Unit Boat Thing pulled up alongside the deck for a minute or two and their blue strobe light helped with the lightshow, which was cute. I wonder if they always do that, or if they just liked moe.?

You could tell by the Can't You Hear Me Knockin' Encore, that the NYPD on duty at the Beer Garden had had enough of us. Me too, buddy. But not before getting stuck in traffic for another 45 minutes on my way home. I'm not going back into the city for at least 2 weeks.

6/27/12 SETLIST
I: Bring It Back Home > Wind It Up, Big World > Ricky Marten > Time Ed, Rainshine > Dr. Graffenberg
II: Captain America > She, Blue Eyed Son, Zed Naught Z > George > Billy Goat > Zed Naught Z
Encore: Can't You Hear Me Knockin'

Still waiting on my favorite copy of the show. Here's a link to the search as new copies get added:

It's a tossup between which of the two nights I liked better. I enjoyed the music itself more on the first night-- the setlist was SICK and, undoubtedly, my spot up front was a huge Pro. However, the biggest Con of such a sweet spot is that it pretty much prevents me from hanging with my crew during the show, because the boys are mostly chivalrous enough to let girls stand in front of them (also because it's easier to get to/from the bar, and also because they believe that staring at the band too much from up close is a bit -- what my Grandmother might call Faygala), and always get pushed back about 4 rows. The second night was a bit of a weaker setlist in my not-so-humble opinion, but minus the traffic situation (which I really refuse to hold against the band, because I knew what I was in for when buying tickets to mid-week shows that started early at the South Street Seaport), I got to hang out with members of my beloved Running Crew for the ENTIRE night. So the Fun Levels are really on two different Fun Spectrums, but the combination of the 2 nights and all the fresh air equalled one awesome moe. 2-night NYC stand.

moe., 6/26 & 6/27/12, Beekman Beer Garden, South Street Seaport, NYC: 8.9 - 9.1 HUZZAHS!!

GOLD STAR AWARD goes to Eliot B., who was sporting 6 fresh STAPLES in his skull, the result of a gnarly accident earlier in the day--- and he still came to the show! You're hardcoooore, Eliot!!!