Concert Review: Yonder Mountain String Band @ The Vogue 10/18/12
As I walked closer to The Vogue it was very apparent many had come to see bluegrass perfection, Yonder Mountain String Band. The snake-like line to enter blended with those choosing to lounge to an impromptu three-piece bluegrass band. I entered the venue and worked my way through the sea of people towards the front. The crowd was rowdy and ready for YMSB to take the stage. Every technician entering the stage drew cheers and stomping from the impatiently awaiting crowd. As the lights dimmed, Jeff Austin and the rest of the merry men took the stage to a sellout crowd.
YMSB started feisty and in vintage form, playing classics “Fastball”, straight into “Southbound”, and ending the fury with “This Lonesome Heart”. Yonder settled the crowd down a little bit with “Rain Still Falls”, a lyrically beautiful song highlighting YMSB’s musical precision. Jeff Austin then addressed the rowdy crowd. Indicating they were just as feisty as the crowd. They proved this playing “Crazy” and “Another Day”. The crowd was grooving when YSMB pushed their limits even more with, “East Nashville Easter”. With the crowd euphoric, YMSB really threw everyone a curveball with the obscure Green Day cover, “Dominated Love Slave”. Everyone in The Vogue, especially the members of the band, were playful and having a great time. It is really special to see a veteran band enjoy playing live music together. The first set continued on playful yet crisp with “Sometimes I’ve Won”. Then whipping the crowd into a frenzy with J.J. Cale’s “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma”, straight into “Little Rabbit”, and back into “If You’re Ever in Oklahoma”. The first set came to an end, leaving the crowd intoxicated and wanting more.
After the fun and playful first set, I was anxious to see how YMSB was going to finish the night. I decided to venture to the balcony for a bird’s-eye view for a better glimpse of Yonder’s masterful musical control over the crowd. The second set started with a nice mix of soulful tunes, “Catch a Criminal”, “Illinois Rain”, and “Night Out”. The crowd wasn’t moving quite like the first set, but it was refreshing to witness the diversity exhibited by the band. The pace picked up with another fun cover, Jesse Fuller’s “You’re No Good”. Once again, the crowd was lively and ready to get down. With the crowd lubricated and ready for the taking, YMSB began to shatter any notion of what was “normal” bluegrass. Lasers coupled with more stellar covers like John Hartford’s “Howard Hughes Blues” Jimmy Cliff’s “Harder They Come” literally had The Vogue shaking. They kept the fast paced antics up with “Easy As Pie”, before completely setting the venue ablaze. Which is exactly what YMSB did next, with an unbelievable rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Girlfriend Is Better”, directly into the properly named “Robot Jam”, and back into “Girlfriend Is Better”, ending a flawless set.
Most shows end systematically with the crowd chanting “we want more” and the band humbly coming back onstage. These chants were for real. You could feel raw energy through the roaring chants of the crowd, because we legitimately wanted more. The encore consisted of “Fine Excuses” and “Southern Flavor”, two YMSB staples. It was a perfect end to a perfect display of music. The members of Yonder Mountain String Band are extremely talented musicians, who maintain precision while seeming playful and silly, and that’s exactly what they showed the sellout crowd at The Vogue. They displayed their own amazing songs, an amazing array of covers, and their lighting was unconventional for a bluegrass band.Yonder Mountain String Band delivered exactly what Indy needed on a Thursday night, and did so in proper fashion.
Words by: Alex Toy
Photos: Wide Aperture Images