You had to give this to the Yonder Mountain String Band before they plucked a single note: It’s not every band that can nearly pack the Rev Room on a Monday night, let alone at 20 bucks a head. Bluegrass is where rednecks meet green folks of all colors, and Monday there were so many of both present, in “Keep Austin Weird” T’s and pearl-snap shirts and ankle-length skirts and overalls, you’da thunk the venue was giving away Goldenseal.
And they loved them some Yonder Mountain String Band. The Colorado-based quartet played the equivalent of two full sets, breaking between them for a one-beer intermission. When the band took the stage for the second set some time after 10 p.m., Austin joked that since it was a school night, they’d be handing out phony doctor’s notes at the door on the way out. Chuckle, chuckle. Then they played for almost two more hours.
Time slid by quickly, though, through the quick-picking instrumentals that evoked images of muscle car chases on dirt roads and the discursive interludes such as that in “Looking Back Over My Shoulder,” which by its end felt like two songs held together by a cat’s cradle of jam-plucking. No wonder one of the fans at the show made a point to mention to a friend that the first time he’d seen these guys, he’d just smoked hashish.
Then Austin started in on the Mandolin Hero intro to “The Boatman’s Dance” and kids threw skinny glowsticks across the room. When the band got around to “40 Miles from Denver,” a staple from their 1999 debut album, the occasional hootin’ and yowlin’ from the crowd gave way to a full-blown sing-along. The fans were as much the party as the band; look for both to reunite the first weekend of June at Wakarusa, with glowsticks and overalls aplenty.