MusicMarauders Presents: The Infamous Stringdusters 11.10.12

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom
Denver, CO

Words By Kevin Hahn
Photos By Jon Prins

The crowd was buzzing, the beer was flowing and Cervantes was just downright packed. I have been to a multitude of shows at this venue known as the “Masterpiece” and the energy I felt waiting in line for this show was unexpected. People could be heard discussing setlists, prior shows and the new album, for which the Silver Sky tour was created and in support of. Gender defined conversations blended together ambiguously as the female attendees couldn’t stop gushing over how cute and adorable the Dusters were, while us men barely could restrain ourselves from knocking a hole in the floor with our best dancing boots on. But what was all the fuss about? Could the rumors really be true… Were we really about to witness the next “Big Thing” on the bluegrass scene? I stepped into Cervantes and the scents of stale pizza and un-showered concert patrons took over my senses, but nothing was going to stop me from experiencing my first true Infamous Stringdusters show. And goddamn what a good show it was!

I wrangled myself up to the front of the venue in order to get a perfect glimpse of these bluegrass bandits and pissed a couple people off along the way. I gave my quick “Sorry’s” and got ready to stomp my feet into the hardwood floor as loud as I could. The Dusters came on stage to a raucous ovation and went right into one of their more known songs, “In God’s Country." Even though atheism is my preferred religion I quickly became enamored with the lyrics within this piece, as I believe the band was truly talking about good ole Colorado. The first surprise of the night was "Free," a beautiful folksy version of the well-known Phish song. As the first set raged on it was quite evident that the Dusters came ready to blow us Denver-ites out of the water. Beautiful transitions, seamless playing/interaction and the biggest smiles on either side of the Mississippi really do make the Infamous Stringdusters a special band to watch and listen to. With the end of the first set approaching I realized how much I really did like this band and how in my opinion, they are going to surpass bands such as Yonder Mountain and Railroad Earth on the bluegrass hierarchy. But would the second set continue the trend of smiles and good times?

Of course, the second set was even hotter and more f*cking awesome than the first. The band powered through song after song not giving up one inch of the love they had gained throughout the first set from the adoring audience enjoying this magic known as bluegrass. "Rain Song" by the British rockers Led Zeppelin and "Walking to the Moon" by the Sting-led group The Police were two of the many highlights strung throughout the set and Cervantes was bouncing off the ground with epic banjo playing and some of the fastest/most proficient dobro playing I have seen/heard in a longtime. Chris Pandolfi, the next Bela Fleck on the banjo, brings a sense of joy and happiness to the stage unseen in any other member of the band. His smile was infectious and melted the hearts of girls/guys alike throughout the venue. The interaction between Chris and dobro-virtuoso Andy Hall is a match made in heaven, as their constant laughter and smiling quirks can bring any audience member to their knees. As the second set kept going and going and going, I didn’t know if I would be able to last until the that last note was strummed. eighteen songs later we finally were coming to the end of the set and by the looks on the crowd’s faces, severe MELTING had taken place.

Faces, brains, and other body parts were being picked up off the ground as the hundreds of concertgoers were quickly trying to regain their composure after the bluegrass beat down that just took place. What could the Dusters pull out in the encore to match or even blow by the epic-ness we just were lucky enough to witness? Well let me be the first one to tell you… hearing the Dusters sing/strum an amazing arrangement of the Beatles song "Here Comes the Sun" was life altering, mind blowing, and just f*cking awesome. The melodic harmony of the five voices on stage was perfect for the slow love ballad and tears could be seen rushing down the face of numerous patrons. The Dusters had done it… they had taken their encore to a whole new level and smacked us in the face with one of the most meaningful covers ever to be heard. But how are they so damn good? What makes them so musically attractive that both men/woman alike can’t help themselves but say, “I LOVE THOSE GUYS”?

In my opinion, the Dusters are one of those bands who care more about the audience experience than what they are feeling themselves on stage. It is because the Dusters travel around the country ripping up stage after stage, venue after venue, city after city, with smiles on their faces as wide as the sun itself. They have so much fun on stage it creates a real sense of jealously within me. How could five guys from Virginia be so talented, but yet so humble and respectful? After months of long/rigorous touring how were these guys so upbeat and happy to play night after night? It is because they love us (concert patrons) and we love them back just as much and probably more. They bring their “A” game every night without question and seem to really enjoy doing so. There are not many other bands on the scene right now that you can say this about and mean it. The Dusters are on a whole other level of perfection and musical continuity… one in which we might not see again for a long time. They’re fun to watch, great to dance to and just a party ready to be had. They are becoming Infamously amazing in my opinion and I truly hope they continue to impress.

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