Not even intermittent rain could dampen the spirits of Red Rocks on Saturday, where Yonder Mountain String Band‘s newgrass sound became especially appropriate given the rustic setting. Fans packed Colorado’s famous venue to welcome home the successful, widely touring band from local Nederland. The show lured Yonder’s loyal fan base — a young, largely grungy, hard-partying, new millennium hippie crowd that bounced to up-tempo beats.
Yonder’s foursome demonstrated the utter magic of music as they took the stage, picked up their instruments and proceeded to alchemize the entire amphitheater with their fingers and innumerable notes.
There’s little yesterday to Yonder, a group that takes up the bluegrass tradition and colors it different. Like similar bands such as Mumford and Sons, Railroad Earth and Trampled By Turtles, Yonder tends toward a faster-is-better tempo. Throughout two sets of high-energy jam tunes, Yonder’s down-tempo cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” was a haunting and welcome respite amid the manic mandolin licks and frenetic banjo riffs.
Yonder’s considerable powers draw from the band’s ability to feature any one of the four players on lead vocals. The fact that the guys all write songs, both individually and collaboratively, keeps their music fresh and variable. Yonder Mountain String Band does Colorado proud. And Yonder Mountain String Band is an act that really must be experienced live for full appreciation of the music — almost impossible to capture otherwise.
The show also included a rollicking opening set by the Devil Makes Three. The trio performed on well-worn instruments, including a guitar held together with tape. Devil Makes Three also announced that its new record is set to be released this fall.
Colleen Smith, a longtime contributor to The Denver Post, is the author of the acclaimed novel “Glass Halo” and the gift book “Laid-Back Skier” by Friday Jones Publishing.
Lisa Higginbotham is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. See more of her work here.