Three Nights of Railroad Earth Jan. 18th - Jan. 20th

The Ogden Theater
Denver, CO

Intro & Photos By J-man

Railroad Earth Live at Ogden Theater on January 18, 2013.

The weekend of January 18th welcomed a stop on the Railroad Earth tour that would spam three days and nights for three near sold out shows at The Ogden Theater in Denver, CO. Folks came from all over the country to celebrate with one of the scene's growing powerhouses. With tickets reaching nearly $50.00 after fees, the weekend would be a test for the dedication of the ever increasing fanbase. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we were unable to cover night one of the run. Our coverage begins on night two, with the energy and excitement building for the peak of the run!

Saturday January 19th, 2013:

Words By Brandon Picard

Railroad Earth Live at Ogden Theater on January 19, 2013.

Bands change. Musicians change. People change. One thing that doesn’t change is the passion that continues to circulate through this beautiful scene. Railroad Earth again is proving why they belong in the middle of it all. Saturday night brought the wonderful people of Denver, Colorado to the Ogden Theatre for the second of three nights on this outrageously successful weekend. Groups of people gathered outside on a rather blistery night hoisting their one finger in the air hoping for the chance to get inside for what was sure to be a brilliant celebration. The show was sold out, and RRE was ready to display exactly why.

Walking into the venue we were greeted with welcoming sounds of “Donkey for Sale” then straight into “Dance Around Molly,” a fiddle packed clap along tune that got the entire theater stomping and laughing together. The venue was packed! Folks quickly became very friendly with their neighbors dancing and rubbing elbows nearly every second. This is exactly what I had expected from Railroad Earth when I first saw them roughly five years ago. Having missed their September Red Rocks show, I was eagerly anticipating to see what they had been working on. As the first set progressed, I took a minute to look around the filled venue with pleasure, appreciating what was taking place. “Chains” followed and was sung by nearly every person in attendance. I got my first glimpse of the dobro, played to near perfection by Andy Goessling, who was changing instruments nearly every song. The backdrop portrayed an owl with massive wings. Changes in lights progressed with the music as the night went on. Heavy instrumentation was accompanied by a stimulating flashing white light, while the calm-paced more simple sounds came with a soft tone of reds and blues.

Towards the end of the first set a roar from the crowd let out as “The Hunting Song” started. One of my favorite RRE songs featured Goessling again, this time on his pennywhistle as he filled the instrumental gaps with high pitched melodies of joy. The song takes on a bit of a rock and roll theme as Todd Schaefer strays from his voice and allows his fingers to do the talking as he strums the six string like a savvy rock and roll veteran. “Fisherman’s Blues” rounded out the first half as Railroad Earth fans released from their roughly one hour daze that was the first set. This is when I began to realize that the show had over sold. The amount of people looking to get outside for a refresher of nicotine and herb was substantial. People gathered at the door waiting for their turn to bask in the 15 x 15 square feet of pure smoke. We quickly turned around and made our way back into the still jam packed theatre. Groups of people gathered in small powwows throughout the room chatting amongst themselves as Railroad Earth took time to recompose.

As the second set started the overly packed venue continued to fill with lingerers wandering in midway through “1759,” an upbeat, technical, time changing Irish jig. The emphatic lighting fell right back into place as the room filled with spurts of light from the entire spectrum. Tim Carbone continued to show his strengths on the violin as he tore through some psychedelic instrumentals. As songs passed quickly and time seemingly stood still, I began to take note of the formation the band continued to be in; the formation that I had seen them retain in many shows past. The spacing between the musicians of RRE is always consistent. I began to reflect on other bands, bluegrass or not, and the formations each demonstrate. It’s something I've actually never thought about. Most bands I have seen illustrate the same set up on stage show after show. The symmetry of Railroad Earth’s stage presence brings balance to an already visually stimulating experience. The sounds pass around from point to point on stage and eventually become clearly identifiable, even with your eyes closed.

“Like a Buddha,” another favorite of mine, brought the already elated crowed to the next level. The room was taken over with the mellow sounds of the flute. Hands everywhere in the air waved frantically as if reaching for an apple high in a tree. The dancing never stopped. Railroad Earth encored with “Old Dangerfield -> Luxury Liner.” The instrumental first half gave the musicians of RRE each a chance to flaunt their talents as the lead was passed around subtly. As “Luxury Liner” a Gram Parson’s tune started, it was clear people in the crowd had just a little bit more to give. Bouncing as one, the crowd moved with the beat until the music was no more. The ecstatic crowd burst in to applaud as Railroad Earth's Saturday show had come to an end. Everyone was smiling as they left the venue talking about “tomorrow” and what Railroad Earth had in store. For me, I was happy to see such a wonderful turnout for the weekend as a whole. Railroad Earth took us on a journey like they always do; evolving like clockwork each time I see them. I couldn’t wait to hear what Sunday was like!

Sunday January 20th, 2013:

Words By J-man

Railroad Earth Live at Ogden Theatre on January 20, 2013.

The line out front of The Ogden extended down the block, as folks waited to obtain their tickets via the one window and one person assisting the crowd. For a Theater of The Ogden's size, one window is not enough. Inside of the packed venue, Railroad Earth fired up with fan favorite, "Long Way To Go," followed by "Colorado" to kick off the evening. The crowd was captivated as the band slowed it down for "The Good Life > Seven Story Mountain." The instrumentation was strong and pure, but the energy was at the mercy of a band that likes to jump between extremes, touching on sonic beauty along the way. "Gold Rush" followed, causing folks to dance wildly within' the confines of their shoulder to shoulder space. The energy slowed back down as Todd's vocals lead the charge on "A Day On The Sand." Railroad welcomed Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters) to the stage to join the band for the last two songs of the set, "Morning Flies" and "Walk Beside Me." Though Andy fit the music well, he did little to elevate the energy as the band ended the first set with a couple of slower numbers.

Setbreak triggered an influx of folks to the smoking area, which was not large enough to accommodate the demand. The extended break gave way to the second set which began with Andy Hall returning to the stage for "Just So You Know." "Drag Him Down" led the band through some high peaks with Tim Carbone's fiddle wizardry at the forefront and the crowd singing loudly with the band. The set slowed back down with "For Love." "Flower Between The Stones" kept it slow as I began to look around the room losing interest in the music. "Been Down The Road" drew me back in with familiar melodies and Todd's soaring vocals. "New Thing," a John Skehan III original, was featured for the first time to the delight on the Denver crowd. The song transitioned into "Warhead Boogie." As the song began to climb, I hoped that it would build as it worked towards the end of the set. "Warhead Boogie" dropped to a low point and transitioned into "Black Elk Speaks."

The energy shifted with "Lordy, Lordy," creating a bouncy and fun vibe before sinking into "I Ain't Got No Home." "Hard Livin'" closed the second set and left me scratching my head. Instead of closing the show with a heater, Railroad just kind of eased its way out, leaving me to believe the encore would be elevated. They returned to the stage with Andy Hall for possibly one of the slowest songs of the evening, "Catfish John." For a band that can tackle either approach, whether fast and furious or slow and meandering, Railroad chose to close their run with the latter. I left that evening unsatisfied and wondering if I had caught the whole run, would I have felt satisfied? Based on the reviews of the previous night's shows, I am lead to believe that I would have been. However, only catching night three left me wanting more.

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