Words & Images by: Mason Cummings
Yonder Mountain String Band :: 02.16.08 :: The Music Farm :: Charleston, SC
Eager fans showed up in droves to catch Yonder Mountain String Band in South Carolina, celebrating a rowdy bluegrass party that Charleston's Music Farm was hardly able to contain. As one of the final stops on Yonder's "Cabin Fever Tour," the oversold venue was bursting at the seams. Ticket-less fans danced around the perimeter to the echoing sound of the strings inside, while a number of ticket holders waited impatiently in line outside the venue well into the first set.
With Phish's Jon Fishman joining the band for two of the tour's remaining shows, it was nice to catch Yonder in their purest form, i.e. without percussion. In fact, the band sounded strong as ever, and it became clear that their decision to add Fishman onto the bill was certainly NOT because something is missing.
I've often found that dancing becomes nearly involuntary at a Yonder show, especially under the spell of Adam Aijala's phenomenal guitar playing. Although the fervent crowd seemed to struggle with this instinctual urge in such a heavily constricted space, they still somehow managed to maintain a uniform kinetic response to the punch-packed bluegrass that washed over them.
The first set was very fast-paced, reassuring fans that YMSB intended to hold nothing back on their trip down south. Dave Johnston's dynamic banjo work on "High on a Hilltop" was a particular highlight. A slightly more somber "Cupid Shot Me Twice" allowed the overheated crowd to catch their breath before closing off the set with "Cuckoo's Nest" and an energetic "Too Late Now."
Set Two started with a slightly more placid mood, but the energy level accumulated with each song, and it was back in full force by the beginning of "Rambler's Anthem." Before "Redbird," bassist Ben Kaufman warned the crowd that that things were about to get a little crazy. The anticipation initiated by Kaufman's comment sent the crowd into a happy stupor, and the songs that followed vigorously propelled the dancing through the rest of the evening.
Ben Kaufman - YMSB :: 02.16
Towards the end of the second set, the band was almost forced to play a full acoustic segment when the soundboard cut out and the microphones seemed to be the only equipment left working. As they began to unplug their instruments and relocate to the front of the stage to play full acoustic, the sound equipment turned back on with a pop, followed promptly by mandolin player Jeff Austin screaming, "Can you hear us now!?!" The band then immediately plunged headfirst into to a fast, heavy picking impromptu jam that sent fans into a frenzy before easing back into "Years With Rose."
The second set was capped off with a dark and commanding cover of Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Sky," which brought the crowd back to Earth after the sheer vehemence of an "Ebenezer Rap" that was bookended by crowd favorite "Snow On The Pines."
Upon returning for the encore, Austin mentioned that the band still felt "fresh as daisies," even after three weeks on the road. They certainly appeared to have plenty of energy left in the tank as they just about blew the lid off the Music Farm. It was my first time seeing Yonder outside of Colorado, and this show made it clear to me that they have established a strong presence across the country. The "Cabin Fever Tour" has been a fantastic start to the year for a band that has long been at the top of their game.
02.16.08 :: The Music Farm :: Charleston, SC
|YMSB :: 02.16 :: Charleston, SC|
Set I: If Loving You Is Killing Me, Crying Holy Unto My Lord, Nothin' But Nothin' > Funtime, A Father's Arms, Don't You Lean On Me, Mossy Cow, Ten > Elzic's Farewell > Ten, High on a Hilltop, Cupid Shot Me Twice, Lord Only Knows (Part One) > Cuckoo's Nest > Too Late Now
Set II: Keep on Going > Only A Northern Song > Keep on Going, Rain Still Falls, Crooked Hitch, Hill Country Girl, Catch A Criminal > East Nashville Easter, Rambler's Anthem, Crow Black Chicken, Red Bird, Years With Rose > Snow on the Pines > King Ebenezer Rap > Snow on the Pines > Goodbye Blue Sky
Encore: Yes She Do (No She Don't), Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Music
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