PHOTOS/SETLIST: Yonder Mountain String Band at The Pageant 3/30 & 3/31
Pictures/Words by Bradley Darby
Last week in preparation for the two night Yonder Mountain String Band extravaganza at The Pageant in St. Louis, we brought you an interview with Jeff Austin and Dave Johnston where we were told that St. Louis crowds are typically pretty pumped up and that shows here are known to involve a heavy workload for the band. When they made their presence known at The Pageant around 8:45PM on Friday night, it was obvious from the start that this was going to be one hell of a weekend.
They didn’t waste any time, starting their first of four sets right at the designated time with crowd favorite “Sharecroppers Son.” Just a bit later, Jeff Austin addressed the St. Louis crowd and fed the baseball towns addiction by making note that he is a Chicago Cubs fan, before they went into “Redbirds.” Bass player Ben Kauffman, who was doing a majority of the emcee work between songs, then introduced the next song, written by banjo player Dave Johnston, “Don’t Worry, Happy Birthday”, followed by “Looking Back Over My Shoulder” which was called “the worst song you’ll ever hear us play” by Kauffman. The first set ended with “Illinois Rain”
After about a twenty minute break, they came back out for the second set. Highlights of set two included Bob Dylan’s “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry” and the highly energetic “Boatmans Dance”, which ended with a solid 30 plus seconds of the crowd erupting as the band stood on stage, obviously taken back by the rambunctious crowds support. Another cover, and a Yonder rarity, “Masons Children” , originally by the Grateful Dead, kicked off a pretty stellar finish to the evening that also included a 20 minute medley of “Ramblin in the Rambler” into Yonder’s take on the Talking Heads “Girlfriend is Better” into “Angel”, into “Rambling Reprise.” After a brief break, the boys came back out and spoke to the crowd again as mandolin player Jeff Austin told the crowd to go get drunk and crazy tonight and then pretty much told us to party all night before telling everyone they would see us tomorrow, and reminded us to wear sunglasses. The encore kicked off with the Ben Kauffman voiced “Sometimes I’ve Won” and finally the crowd was sent home after “Let Me Fall”
NIGHT 1 - 3/30/2012
Set 1 Sharecroppers Son, Don’t You Lean On Me, East Nashville Easter, Spanish Harlem Incident, Strophe, Too Late Now, Long Time, Redbird, Don’t Worry Happy Birthday, Lookin’ Back Over My Shoulder, They Love Each Other, Illinois Rain
Set 2 Out of the Blue, Straight Line, And Your Bird Can Sing, It Takes A Lot To Laugh - It Takes A Train To Cry (Bob Dylan), Years With Rose, Boatman, Rain Still Falls, Things You’re Selling, Masons Children (Grateful Dead), Lord Only Knows Pt 1, Ramblin in the Rambler, Girlfriend is Better, Angel, Ramblin Reprise E: Sometimes I've Won, E: Let Me Fall
Saturday’s show started off with some interesting events going on just outside the venue. Just a block up the road from The Pageant, there was some form of domestic disturbance that led to police in riot gear and gun shots being fired into the air. Meanwhile, back in hippie land... myself and about 2500-3000 of my closest friends enjoyed our time yet again with the Yonder Mountain String Band.
The first set began again, right at 8:45. After just one song, Dave Johnston was given the change to show off on the banjo for “Steep Grade, Sharp Curves.” Other highlights of the first set were “Kentucky Mandolin”,“Damned If The Right One Didn’t Go Wrong” and fan favorite “Pockets.” One of the early day Yonder songs, “40 Miles from Denver” written about Nederland, Colorado, “Shake Me Up” which has a funky string feel to it and “Raleigh and Spencer” ended the first set.
Second set highlights included the opener, “Pretty Daughter”, which is one of my favorite Yonder songs, and “Aint Been Myself in Years” both of which are sang by Jeff Austin. Kauffman took over the helm again for “Town” and the set ended with the 23 minute jam of “Traffic Jam” with “King Ebenezer” thrown in the middle. Quite a filthy little combo to end the fourth set in two nights. The encore featured a dedication to former Split Lip Rayfield guitarist, and friend of Yonder, Kirk Rundstrom who passed away in 2007 after being diagnosed a year earlier with esophageal cancer. In Rundstrom’s honor, they played the Split Lip Rayfield song “Used to Call Me Baby”, commonly referred to as Crazy.
Overall it was a solid weekend of Yonder shows. The band seemed to be really enjoying themselves on stage, and it was only the second and third shows of the tour. The energy was high; the jams were extended and very tight. There is still good reason I leave every Yonder Mountain String Band show with two to three future dates already in mind, these dudes are on absolute fire right now and you should make it a point to check them out this Spring/Summer.
NIGHT 2 - 3/31/2012
Set 1 Goin Where They Dont Know My Name, Steep Grade Sharp Curves, Honesty, Kentucky Mandolin, Loved You Enough, Damned If The Right One Didn’t Go Wrong, Free To Run, Night is Left Behind, Pockets, 40 Miles From Denver, Shake Me Up, Raleigh and Spencer
Set 2 Pretty Daughter, All The Time, Blue Collar Blues, Deep Pockets, Hill Country Girl, Sidewalk Stars, Isn’t Been Myself In Years, Town, Another Day, Fine Excuses, Little Rabbit, Traffic Jam > King Ebenezer > Traffic Jam E: Crazy (Split Lip Rayfield) , E: Troubled Mind > 20 Eyes > Troubled Mind