The Infamous Stringdusters, Kyle Hollingsworth Band & Euforquestra 12.6.14
The Fillmore Auditorium
Words By J. Picard
Photos By Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot)
The air was crisp and the night young as folks wandered into The Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, CO for "Hoppy Holidays!" The beer tasting/musical extravaganza kicked off at 5:00 PM with thirty breweries providing free tastings for all ticket holders until 8:00 PM! One could only imagine the amount of hippies and wooks that would be patiently waiting for access around 4:45 PM and in turn would be carried out before the evening's headliner. Kevin Hahn, who would be shooting the evening's event, and I headed for a quick bite to eat to line our stomachs prior to what would presumably be an evening of excessive intake. We dropped off our coats backstage at The 1up - Colfax and headed over to what used to be Mammoth Garden at the corner of Clarkston and Colfax. There was a smaller line than usual out front, which at first I thought may be an indicator to how few were inside, but just the opposite was the case. Walking through the doors, the auditorium opened up to a massive turnout inside.
Euforquestra had just wrapped up their set and the evening's host, Kyle Hollingsworth, had just taken the stage with his band. I was disappointed to find that the beer tasting that was taking place on the floor behind the soundboard was being torn down early. Though I was not able to participate in the early format of the tasting, our VIP passes would grant us access to a plethora of free beers on rotating taps in the Fillmore's balcony. On my way back down to the floor I ran into Chris Pandolfi and congratulated him on The Infamous Stringdusters largest play in the market.
"Well, I like to drink beer. Hopefully you guys like drinking beer too. I like to make beer, but I think my favorite thing to do is to make music! Lets do that..." -Kyle Hollingsworth
Kyle Hollingsworth Band Live at Fillmore Auditorium on December 6, 2014.
Kyle began with "Let's Go Outside," which was a great way to kick off the set. Kim Dawson backed up Kyle on vocals adding a much more full sound to the chorus. The music broke down and went into "Eminence Front," which was strong through four minutes of rock that went back into "Let's Go Outside." Another song with the word "Go" followed in "Here We Go," welcoming Matt Grunstad on percussion. Dan Schwindt stepped up on guitar ripping through some impressive notation, while Paul McDaniel laid down some huge bass in the background. The combination of Paul and drummer Brian McRae seemed a perfect fit for Kyle's compositions. "Falling Through The Cracks" came next with Kyle trying to capture the southern California vibe. Once again, Dan shredded while the crowd danced furiously. "We Can Work It Out" began with Kim's powerful vocals and special guests, the Euforquestra horns!
"Bring it down and let's funk it up a little bit... for now." -Kyle Hollingsworth
"Way it Goes" began with some solid riffing from Dan before Paul took off on the bass eluding to some massive low end to come. After a couple of verses Brian dropped into some heavy drumming and Paul made the bass pop before Kyle jumped into some talkbox. Up next was Kyle's new single, "Happening Now," a song that Kyle wrote to remind everyone of their childhood. It sounded almost Bowie-like and the middle of the song got extremely funky before Kyle took the Denver crowd to space. An instrumental jam started slower, before Kyle requested the band speed it up a little bit "Billy Nershi" style. Kyle called up Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters) for a song Kyle had written about his daughter, "Can't Wait Another Day." The added dobro sounded fantastic painting bright colors to the already vibrant musical piece! Brian took a solid solo towards the end of the jam with Andy outputting some almost dreamlike steel.
Back upstairs we obtained a coffee IPA and a Coffee Stout. Much like the earlier porter, the stout went down like motor oil, but with a delightful taste. Back on the main floor the lights went down and the fab five took the stage. A tease of "Piece of Mind" with a ton of thrashing opened the set before the band kicked into "Mountain Town" with Andy Hall leading them off. It was a strong start and the crowd went crazy upon its conclusion! The band immediately launched into "Black Rock" with fierce fiddling from Jeremy Garrett.
The Infamous Stringdusters Live at Fillmore Auditorium on December 6, 2014.
"Happy Holidays, everybody! Well done, thanks for coming out tonight! Big thanks to Kyle for having us out as his guests! Big thanks to Denver for being the musical center of the universe!" -Travis Book
Musical perfection poured from the stage through the instrumental track, with each member getting in on the action and moving around the stage in a fluid motion. Percussive strikes rung out intertwining with jazzy newgrass. They wasted no time in getting to "Get It While You Can," that featured Travis on the vocals before heading into "Fork In The Road." Jeremy's vocals were incredible as Pandolfi keep the time with precise banjo. An abrupt stop opened back up to some great solo work and an excited cheer from the crowd! "Angeline" came next with beautiful riffing between Chris and Andy Falco. The composition felt like a journey through picking at an incredibly high level. The slower love song, "Head Over Heels" entered the picture and as I glanced around there was a lot of air guitar and air fiddle going on. The harmonies were well tuned and the transitions of the solos seamless. The tempo sped up as the song cruised towards its close.
"All The Same" began with heavy bass from Travis before the band joined. There is something about the song that creates such a beautiful sound, whether it's the solid lyrics or the swagger of the tempo that feels swanky. Fan favorite, "Long Lonesome Day," came next as folks danced and slapped their knee. The song slowed down and transitioned into "Fire," with some weird effects and tones. Andy Hall's strong vocals energized the packed house before the band noodled and jammed resulting in Chris being shot out of a cannon on the banjo. "Stranger" lead off with a beautiful melody and soft vocals and more strong banjo work before "Y2K" and what felt like a turn toward the close of the extended set. Jeremy tore into his fiddle which answered with screaming perfection, before Chris began firing off notes and up-ended rolls. "Getting Down The Road" featured each member with colliding melodies and amazing interplay. The band peaked and went from zero to sixty to close the fantastic composition.
The Stringdusters welcomed drummer Brian McRae to the stage for The Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place." The Stringdusters' approach to the song was bright and progressive and Kyle's raspy vocals and missed high notes added a very raw vibe to the mix. For the next song, Travis called up Paul and Dave from Greensky Bluegrass for Bruce Springsteen's "Atlantic City." Paul's vocals were strong though the song selection a little slow for an encore, hopefully eluding to a barn burner of a show closer. The evening closed with The Stringdusters welcoming Kyle, Kim, Brian and members of Euforquestra along side Paul and Dave for Stevie Wonder's "Boogie On Reggae Woman." Kim and Andy Hall traded vocals before the jam opened up into a section of solos that included Bruzza, Kyle and the horns before returning to the verse and ending in a disjointed fashion. For such an incredibly tight show, the encores seemed very "pickin' party" esque and loose in nature.
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