The Infamous Stringdusters, Kyle Hollingsworth Band & Euforquestra 12.6.14

The Fillmore Auditorium
Denver, CO

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!

"You've got The World," a track off of Kyle's newest album came next with Kyle digging into some nasty tones on his keyboard. A huge solo followed with the entire band joining in at the end to peak. The midsection got spacey before building back up and concluding. The Speed Racer inspired "Racer X" delighted the appreciative crowd with funky swagger and wailing organ work. The highlight of the track came in the form of yet another big solo from Schwindt. Upstairs we found ourselves having to make choices on what kind of craft brew we wanted to try. Whereas I usually drink IPAs or pales at shows, I found myself with a chocolate Porter in hand.

"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.

Kyle called Mike Tallman (Euforquestra) to rip some guitar with Dan, as well as the horns to blow some notes on The Talking Heads' "Crosseyed And Painless." It started slow then took off rapidly. The whole song was a shredfest and a clear highlight of the evening's first co-headlining set! Members of Euforquestra remained on stage for fan favorite and the set closer, "Rosie." The song's melody sounded great with the horns taking the lead! Paul took over on bass as the near full Fillmore got the fuck down. Kyle took one last massive solo before the song took a turn towards its close. The jam got loose and spacey before building up, tightening up and charging full steam through one last chorus and peak. The set was very enjoyable and as anticipation for The Infamous Stringdusters set built, Paul Hoffman and Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass could be seen tuning up and soundchecking on the fly.

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.

Another love song, "Summercamp," followed with Travis on vocals and poppy instrumentation. Jeremy stood out on this song going absolutely over the top with Chris in tow. What began as poppy sounding turned into a barrage of notes that seemed to bounce off of the faces of the hardcore Jamily riding the rail. The song slowed down and transitioned into The Police's "Walking On the Moon," to the delight of the Denver fans. The melodies were soaring and the vocals true to form. Andy Falco's "If I Had A Block of Wood" felt faster than normal and featured some great movement on stage as the band chased around the lead parts and squared off. "Hey You" featured Andy Hall and added harmonies from the rest of the band. In the middle of the composition Chris took off, before Andy Falco, until their melodies crossed and went back and forth. A train song followed with "End of The Line" with Jeremy at the vocal helm and at times ripping into the fiddle. The song was short and sweet, before the band kicked into the extended, fast-paced "Hitchhiker!" I found myself singing along with Jeremy and snapping to Andy Hall's dobro work. Glancing to my left, Kevin had his eyes closed and was also singing every word. Goosebumps rose on my arm as the band's output broke into a spacey section, with Jeremy's fiddle grinding away in the background and Falco on lead guitar.

"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 took a second to thank the evening's support before performing an incredible version of "Let It Go" that featured a massive sing along. Looking around it appeared that most were participating and those who weren't were tuned into the message of the song. Then, Andy Hall called Kyle Hollingsworth to the stage for "Colorado." The added keys fit perfectly into the already tight mix and gave the song a soulful feel. Kyle took the first solo as The Stringdusters looked on with smiles. Kyle remained on stage for "High Country Funk," which felt loose from the get go. The instrumental song took turns and dives, at times soaring through what felt like purely improvised sections, at one point teasing The Grateful Dead's "China Cat." "High Country Funk" went right into Shawn Camp's "Travelin' Teardrop Blues." Travis took the vocal responsibilities through a song that has become a bluegrass classic. The tempo sped up and the band went into JJ Cale's "After Midnight." Following a solid Kyle solo, they transitioned back into "Travelin' Teardrop Blues" to close the first set.

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.

The lights came up in The Fillmore and Denver music fans headed in every direction. For us, it was off to The 1up - Colfax for North American Scum performing the music of LCD Soundsystem. We arrived at the barcade to a packed house of fans singing every word to every song with their hands in the air. It was quite the stark contrast for me coming from The Fillmore, where I knew almost every word to every song. There I was watching North American Scum and completely out of the loop of the music, though it was fun and danceable. We found ourselves backstage, hanging with a few of our friends who attended the Stringdusters show as well, when I got a text from Chris checking in to see if he could come hang. When I got to the front, I was greeted by Chris, Andy Hall, Paul and Dave. I turned to Carly excitedly and said "two of the five!" A short time later, I was back up front bringing in Travis and Andy Falco. "Four of the five" I said to Carly. I began to smile as I went back up front to grab Jeremy. Backstage I glanced at Carly and smiled as The 1up quickly became the after party for our favorite band following their biggest market play. I woke up the next morning, still smiling, awaiting the next time we would have the pleasure of seeing The Infamous Stringdusters...

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