Yonder Mountain String Band really excels at whipping its fans into frenzy. The furious pace with which they conduct their concerts often produces an ecstatic response—the quintessential example of energy interaction between band and fans. They feed on each other, creating a swirling mass of energy borne of the collective improvisation. That’s not to say they don’t write great songs. It’s not to say they don’t do subtle. They do. But it is why they’re lumped in with the jam band set so often. They create that collaborative energy ball as well as anybody.
On the latest installment of their live album series, Mountain Tracks, the Colorado quartet pulls a complete set from a 2007 Ohio show on one of the two discs. The other is culled from various concerts over the past three years. Each disc showcases what Yonder does best. There are plenty of the aforementioned frenzies.
But you also get a taste for the subtlety of their songwriting, much of which (particularly bassist Ben Kaufman and guitiarist Adam Aijala’s contributions) provides the earnest and sober counterpart to their frenzied pace.
Their choice of cover tunes belies the band’s tastes too—classics like Bill Monroe’s “Kentucky Mandolin” and the traditional “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” fit nicely right alongside Todd Snider’s “Sideshow Blues” and Danny Barnes’ “Death Trip.”
These live sets from Yonder continue to document the band at their best. Whether it’s another slot in the collection for longtime fans, or a primer for newcomers, Mountain Tracks Vol. 5 serves its purpose well.
Mountain Tracks Vol. 5 is out now on Frog Pad Records.