Last night, bluegrass fans from Colorado and around the country filed around the corner of the Boulder Theater to kick off their NYE festivities. Yonder Mountain String Band, one of the few bands who can hold their own with five straight nights in the same town, and guest Roosevelt Collier primed 1100 music-lovers for their big weeks to come.
Jeff Austin and co. hit the stage around 9:15, kicking the night off with a “Fastball” before digressing into “East Nashville Easter.” The sold-out crowd was moving and singing along to the 5-piece bluegrass ensemble, knowing that Collier’s touch would set the 27th apart from the next four nights to come.
Collier’s style is usually paired up with different kind of music where we see him, in the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. We’ve seen him join the likes of The Werks, Papadosio and Lettuce, but a bluegrass quartet? It isn’t traditional, but it is the type of forward-thinking bluegrass that Yonder provokes, with dashes of experimental psychedelia alongside their southern-style roots. Collier’s soulful, pedal steel guitar is a unique sound and he went lick for lick with the gang’s mandolin, banjo and acoustic guitar pickin’ to create an incredibly unique sound.
The first set was a heater with “Jack-a-roe” and “Rag Momma,” but things really came to a climax with the 17-minute “Snow on the Pines” that had everyone roaring. The light show was a great addition to the tempo-defying artist’s groove, kicking the audience into full-fledged knee-slappin’ mode with the spirals of lights against the Boulder Theater’s beautiful artwork and architecture. The set ended with a variation of Willie Nelson’s “Good Hearted Woman” and the concert-goers filed outside for some of that cool, crisp, Colorado oxygen.
Set two started with a cover of the Rolling Stone’s “No Expectations,” which was drawn out to 11 minutes due to clever soloing by the entire group. Watching a group of talented musicians go in a solo-cypher is amongst my favorite reasons to attend live music, and last night was amongst the most impressive displays as banjo, acoustic guitar, mandolin, stand-up bass and pedal steel guitar took turns melting the faces of Boulder.
The second set continued with straight heat as well, with “Left Me In A Hole,” “Sidewalk Stars” and a “Dear Prudence” cover that teared up the crowd. For the last 25 minutes of the set, Yonder brought out Futureman for percussions. He added a some dope beats that allowed the crowd to push through the final minutes of fatigue.
The encore consisted of a couple songs the Grateful Dead play, “Yes She Do, No She Don’t” and “New Speedway Boogie,” capping off an absolutely epic night at the Boulder Theater.
Our Colorado adventures continue tonight with the String Cheese Incident at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield.