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.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

My attorney will be in touch. Ha!!