On a recent Wednesday evening at the recently renovated Georgia Theatre in Athens, Georgia, Yonder Mountain String Band broke out their bluegrass instruments for what would unfold as a characteristically strong show for the Nederland, CO natives.
A note on the Georgia Theatre â€“ this beloved, historic venue reopened its doors in August after a June, 2009 fire gutted the building. The Theatre has since hosted acts such as Drive-By Truckers, Big Boi, Lucinda Williams, and Widespread Panic.
Yonder, who last played Athens in 2008, opened with â€œYears With Rose,â€ a lively tour favorite led by the ever-animated Jeff Austin, mandolin player and facial expressionist extraordinaire.Â As the show progressed, the spotlight shone equally upon the members of the progressive bluegrass quartet through the vivacious â€œBolton Stretchâ€ and a strapping â€œPaul and Silas.â€
Slowing things down a bit with â€œFatherâ€™s Arms,â€ the band exhibited their ability to harmonize in a more traditional bluegrass sense, reinvigorating the crowd with a four-song, set-closing double meat sandwich: Â â€œNew Horizons > Criminal > Ob La Di, Ob La Da > New Horizons;â€ The Beatles cover was perfectly placed and left the crowd hungry.
The second set opened with a lot of energy as the band started into â€œWinds of Wyoming,â€ a crowd favorite that has been in consistent rotation for Yonder since it debuted on 2003â€™s Old Hands. Next up was a delicious cover of Frank Zappaâ€™s â€œI am the Slime,â€ providing a perfect contrast to its predecessor.
Highlighted by Adam Aijala’s guitar prowess on â€œRoughneck Bluesâ€ and an enthusiastic and well-received â€œTo Be Cominâ€™ Round the Bend,â€ the second set eventually left a tad to be desired in terms of keeping the crowd engaged. Though the crowd really came to life for â€œCome Together,â€ the second Beatles cover of the evening was not enough to keep the packed roomâ€™s thirst quenched, primarily due to song selection.
Due to its proximity to Atlanta, the most recent Georgia tour stop, there were a large number of fans who were in attendance at both shows â€” and â€œCome Together,â€Â â€œRamblerâ€™s Anthem,â€ â€œNaughty Sweetie,â€ and â€œSideshow Bluesâ€ were all played both nights. At the Atlanta show those songs were sprinkled throughout the setlist, and each of these hard-hitting numbers nearly brought down the house â€” literally, the Tabernacle balcony quaked.
However, in Athens, these previously-experienced songs were lumped together toward the latter portion of the set, leaving much to be desired in terms of experimentation and diversity for those who were getting their second helping of Georgia Yonder in as many nights.
Nevertheless, the song choices kept the crowd dancing, and overall the performance seemed to go off without a hitch. Though strong on its collective whole, there were times that â€” in spite of a well-delivered and soundly progressive performance â€” the setlist left some scratching their heads.
To download the audience/matrix recording of this show, click here…
Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Ian Rawn…
Setlist (Courtesy of Phishy 12)
I: Years With Rose > Bolton Stretch, Paul & Silas, A Father’s Arms, Red Rocking Chair, Strophe, Sidewalk Stars > Ain’t Been Myself In Years, Pockets, Get Me Outta This City, Isolate > New Horizons > Criminal (with Ob La Di Ob La Da Tease) > New Horizons
II: Winds Of Wyoming, I Am The Slime, Sharecropper’s Son, Going Up, Roughneck Blues, To See You Coming Round The Bend, Ten,Â Rambler’s Anthem, Come Together, The Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me, Free To Run > Honestly > Sideshow Blues > Honestly
Encore:Â Troubled Mind