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Published: 2012/04/11
by Tina Kelleher

On the Road Again with Strangefolk

Photo by WGK

Higher Ground – South Burlington, VT: March 29th & March 30th

March 29th
Set I: Lines & Circles (w/ Find the Cost of Freedom lyrics), Rachel, Walnut, Shift My Step, Fountain, Blue & Gray, Two Boys, Burned Down
Set II: Furnace, Sinner, What Say You, New Glock II, Whatever, Far From Yourself (started w/ just Reid and Jon, Erik and Luke rejoined after a few minutes), Cabin John, Utterly Addled, Neighbor, So Well
Encore: Things That Fly

March 30th
Set I: Dance, Who I Am, Sometimes, Faces, Otis, Take it Easy On Me -> Video Game -> Take It Easy On Me, Mama, Like You Anyway
Set II: Pooh Bear’s Mistress, Rather Go Fishin’, Filter, Great Long While, Crest of My Wing, Come On Down, Woman Child, Reuben’s Place (w/ Lay the Dust lyrics)
Encore: Roads, Juicy Fruit

After a quick trip to the local grocery store to load up on donations for Strangers Helping Strangers and a full dose of 5hr Energy to counteract the 4 hours of sleep I had the night before, we set out for Higher Ground.

The Vermont shows were, in a word, magical. I think a friend of ours summed it up perfectly when she said, “It takes me an hour to get to the bar because I have to stop to hug someone and chat with every step”. That’s what was missing from Brooklyn… there was clearly a large contingent of fans there, but it felt like it was lacking that crucial critical mass that kicks the energy into overdrive. Both nights in Vermont had that critical mass and the band’s performances absolutely reflected it.

These two Higher Ground shows provided a great overview of some of Strangefolk’s most well-loved classics. Worth noting is that there were two performances of Two Boys over the course of the run, a song that once was played very rarely despite its rampant popularity among fans. I don’t think it’s possible to listen to this song and not smile. Though once upon a time it reminded me of my own childhood running wild through the woods (I was a bit of a tomboy), it now makes me think of my son and his best friend. It’s lyric-listening moments like these when I’m reminded that I’m not the only one for whom the past 12 years have brought with it a lot of changes, having gone from being a semi-carefree road-tripping college student to becoming a wife, mother and career-minded worker bee. Even though the crowd conversations have shifted from bitching about unreasonable professors, difficult roommates and the challenges of our chosen majors to unreasonable bosses, difficult spouses and the challenges of adjusting to parenthood, if there’s one thing that these four shows did, it was prove that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The “Cabin John,” “Neighbor,” “So Well,” “Things That Fly,” “Like You Anyway,” “Pooh Bear’s Mistress,” “Crest of My Wing” and “Reuben’s Place” were highlights for me, though the “Reuben’s Place” especially so because I ventured up to the rail for the first time in over a decade.

While I was absolutely a rail rat back in the earliest days of my time as a diehard Strangefolk fan, I’m most often found hanging around the taper’s section nowadays as I created an AV geek monster when I bought my husband a DAT deck for our first Christmas together (he’s since moved on to some other gadgets with names consisting of number and letter combinations that only make sense to other gear geeks). I had almost forgotten how intense the energy is up there, but it didn’t take long for it to come flooding back.

It’s hard to put into words what these Vermont shows meant to me. Not only in terms of seeing Strangefolk back on their home turf again, but to see so many familiar faces and spend time with good friends we haven’t seen in five (or more) years was exactly what both my husband and I needed.

I’m trying not to turn this into a novel, so I’ll leave it at that for Vermont.

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