YMSB | 04.18.08 | San Francisco

Words by: Nick Boeka | Images by: Arthur Shim

Yonder Mountain String Band :: 04.18.08 :: Warfield Theatre :: San Francisco, CA


Austin & Kaufmann - YMSB
It had been six years since Yonder Mountain String Band played at San Francisco's Warfield, usually performing at The Fillmore instead. And the cherry on top for this grand return was drummer Jon Fishman (Phish) joining the band on this bill.

The Yonder boys entered to a screaming crowd after a formal introduction from off stage. A YMSB show is always a nonstop, foot stompin', butt shakin', hillbilly throw down. I knew it was bullshit when mandolin player and frontman Jeff Austin tried to assure us that he wasn't going to talk much. He never can live up to that promise, and three songs in the banter took over. That's the experience we really want, though. I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling or be told to do something every other song. Crack a joke or give me some background on the tune.

Halfway through the first set, the band really started to find their rhythm and during "Fastball," which transitioned into "Looking Back Over My Shoulder," the sound and lights were dialed in and people were getting down. The beautiful and historic room was filled easily by the technical prowess of Dave Johnson's banjo and Adam Aijala's guitar. While each member has their core strength, bassist Ben Kaufmann, in my humble opinion, produces the best vocals in the band. I think that Austin is a fantastic performer, lyricist and songwriter, but the ease and beauty with which Kaufmann sings lead is special.

As the set drew to a close, the "greasy troll" himself, Jon Fishman emerged from stage right, quickly taking his kit and throwing the band into a jam that immediately sounded similar to his work with great mandolinist Jamie Masefield of the Jazz Mandolin Project. Now, I'm probably going to offend many bluegrass diehards and Yonder traditionalists, but Yonder with drums is so much sharper than Yonder with no drums. As soon as the song began the band snapped into a tighter space and was able to actually play less but create more. The set closing "Steep Grade Sharp Curves" primed everyone for what was to come with the second set. What amazed me was how well the band and Fishman were playing together despite their limited prior playing time.

There began the night of my life with the cheap cocaine and neon lights
My vision, my lungs, and reality blurred, no heaven or hell, no wrong or right
Stuck my face to her hands and kissed me like never before
Said do what you want, but don't you dare leave me tonight

Ben Kaufmann
With the set break, we relocated our little party to the balcony, and when the lights dimmed, Fishman immediately came on with the band, and Austin declared they were going to play "until they shut the place down." The beginning of the set picked up where the first one left off, and the band was right back in the zone they had built before. After a few numbers, the band settled into "How Bout You," which showcased Kaufmann's vocals in the great melody lines bolstered by strong solos from Johnson and Austin.

They moved from song to song easily, having fun onstage. They even managed to make Fishman take a shot of Jagermeister, which he surprisingly looked pained to take down. As they segued into different songs, Fishman never lost the beat, proving that he still is the human drum machine; the ultimate pocket player.

Midway through the second set, Austin announced that the band was going to play a completely new song, a tribute to Frank Zappa, and I immediately shouted, "I Am The Slime," which was indeed the song they chose. Austin was just perfect as he sang the creepy lyrics that led to a ferocious, spaced-out jam section with Austin and Aijala using heavy effects, the former creating feedback loops a la Trey.

At evening's end, with Fishman back on stage, YMSB treated the pleased crowd to a double encore of "Catch A Criminal" and "Death Trip." Despite actually playing till they shut the place down, it was a long show that stretched past midnight that left the masses satiated.

04.18.08 :: Warfield Theater :: San Francisco
Set I: Out Of The Blue, Sidewalk Stars, Rain Still Falls, Don't You Lean On Me, Belle Parker, Fastball > Looking Back Over My Shoulder, Another Day, Half Moon Rising, Casualty, Wind's On Fire* > Robot Jam* > Steep Grade Sharp Curves*
Set II: Angel > Follow Me Down To The Riverside > Angel, How 'Bout You?, Fingerprint > Cuckoo's Nest, Fine Excuses, I Am The Slime, Southbound, Just The Same, If There's Still Ramblin' in the Rambler (Let Him Go) > Midwest Gospel Radio > East Nashville Easter > If There's Still Ramblin' in the Rambler (Let Him Go)
Encore: Catch A Criminal, Death Trip
* Jon Fishman on drums and he joined them for entire second set and encore.

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[Published on: 5/19/08]

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Comments

Mark Price former NBA star starstarstarstarstar Mon 5/19/2008 02:58PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Mark Price former NBA star

Yonder puts on the best live shows ever. I got tickets for the Boulder, Red Rock shows and I can't wait. Sometimes I cry becasue I know I got Two and a Half months left before those shows...ok I don't cry, but Damn I can't wait.

jambander starstarstarstar Mon 5/19/2008 03:45PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

jambander

ROTHBURY with Fish...it's gonna be legendary. maybe a guest appearance by Gordo?

danalog Mon 5/19/2008 05:27PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

danalog

Jeff must have been mistaken, I've heard them do "I Am The Slime" a number of times. Glad you were able to shout it out before they played it though. That kind of thing is NEVER annoying.

MoreTunes Mon 5/19/2008 05:51PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoreTunes

Good review...got the shoulders bouncin and the toes tappin, but the part about the "prior playing time" with fish seemed a bit off. granted they don't play together often, they've done more than a handful of shows together dating back as far as october last year. just a side note...cheers

ScIFreak Mon 5/19/2008 06:58PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

ScIFreak

Rothbury!!

RedHeaven Mon 5/19/2008 07:02PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RedHeaven

"I knew it was bullshit when mandolin player and frontman Jeff Austin tried to assure us that he wasn't going to talk much. He never can live up to that promise, and three songs in the banter took over. That's the experience we really want, though. I don't want to be asked how I'm feeling or be told to do something every other song. Crack a joke or give me some background on the tune."

Hahaha totally....I love Jeff banter myself, too. However, I find it poor tact to compare this to how other bands do it. The writer is obviousy referring to Spearhead, and while I understand why the writer wrote that, I still find it bad tact on jambases part to say that. If the writer just stated why he liked Jeff banter, it would of come off more like a jambase article and less like a jambase article comment.

FATTY64 Mon 5/19/2008 07:10PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Any show that involves Fishman on Drums, Johnston on banjo amd Austin on the lin is going to be sick and oh yah! Adam Aijala and Kaufmann aren't that bad eather! hope to see Fish with them in SC w/ Keller

NickBoeka Mon 5/19/2008 09:38PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

NickBoeka

@ RedHeaven. I could see how you would take that as a Spearhead reference, since Franti is guilty of it too sometimes, but really it's quite common for DJs and MCs to shout out stuff like that too, and it's one of my pet peeves at a show...

MoeString Mon 5/19/2008 11:31PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

MoeString

nice

TXfarmhouse starstar Tue 5/20/2008 07:02AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

TXfarmhouse

Listening to this show now and the sound quality is stellar!! descent write up , great band.

Muffinman1 Tue 5/20/2008 09:23AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Muffinman1

Rothbury!!!!!!!!! I can't wait. I think it would be a travisty if Gordo didn't join in on that throw down at the Roth.

rider11 starstarstarstarstar Tue 5/20/2008 11:22AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

This show was truly a treat to see at the Warfield, before its quick closing last week. The entire band was on fire and every time I see them play with Fishman it gets tighter and tighter. Yonder+Fishman will be just one of the gems at Rothbury this summer. The talent these 5 have together is mind boggling. See you there!

crawf Tue 5/20/2008 11:59AM
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uh, any review of the actual music played?

sfnola Wed 5/21/2008 04:54PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Best Yonder show I've seen in years. "Now, I'm probably going to offend many bluegrass diehards and Yonder traditionalists, but Yonder with drums is so much sharper than Yonder with no drums." Right on.

RedHeaven Wed 5/21/2008 08:53PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RedHeaven

Yeah I guess your right. I take my comment back.

I just heard this show on disc and altho there are sloppy moments, its really a great listen. I was at the next week in Tahoe and they were both great shows, thurs being better over all. This band will never stop raising my blood pressure to new crazy heights!

caught Mon 5/26/2008 03:30PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

caught

one thing that was great about this show was that every ticket was general admission. so you could go to the balcony when you were tired of being crammed or vise versa. I saw all 3 phish shows at the warfield in '94 and I think this was just as enjoyable if not more so. yonder and fishman are a great combo.

_Sugaree_ starstarstarstar Wed 5/28/2008 08:02AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

_Sugaree_

Good Shit! I love the Jeff Banter as well! I can't wait to see Yonder again, they always put on a great show!!