Photo: Gavin PaulIt’s a sad thing when such a sincere set of achy-string folkies make the independent-to-Billboard climb and get co-opted by the ignorant masses. Call me a spiteful, angry young man, but answer me this: Who pays $30+ to get into a show to drown themselves in $6 High Life, talk over every star-gazer, shout “Teenage Mutant” like it’s funny every damn time and throw some elbows when it’s barn-burner time? Some die-hard college girls assured me that this was an anomaly. “Trampled by bros,” they quipped. “Catch ‘em in a small town,” they assured. One could only hope the few legit fans that brushed off a 45-minute delay and staked claim in the front row connected with the Minnesota quintet’s opening verse from “Alone:”

You come into the world alone
And you go out of the world alone
But in between, there’s you and me
Ohhh

Analyzing it way more than we probably should be, there was a clear bond there getting pissed on. One that we should likely be happy simply being aware of ourselves. And this is not a diatribe aimed at a few simple-minded concertgoers. And there ain’t nothing wrong with throwing some elbows when the strings get furious – so goes the pop bluegrass way. But c’mon bros, these band of impeccable banjo, fiddle and harmony American gothics deserve more than a heel-stomp to breakout jam “Wait So Long,” especially with its middle-finger to the insincere:

I could never pretend that I don’t love you
You could never pretend that I’m your man
That’s exactly the way that I want it
That’s exactly the way that I am

Photo: Gavin PaulSo to the perfect moments of an otherwise fine hour and a half set we cheers, with a finer glass of whiskey, and an ear more grateful: Ryan Young making his fiddle sing the catharsis up and out of “Bloodshot Eyes” lovers’ lament, My Morning Jacket‘s Carl Broemel (the evening’s opener) pedal-steel assisting the “hard-earned” “Victory” and the sweet couple up against a rail mouthing that line about ‘all of us being lonely and it not being a sin’ over each other’s shoulders, the frustrated dude by the soundboard who demanded deep backwoods cut “Codeine” and received, every single soul who actually sang along to a sparkling mandolin reminder that “all the cheap thrills” that don’t help you, never will in “The Calm and the Crying Wind,” the sun-soaked string treatment of Lennon‘s “Oh Yoko!” for encore love balladeering kicks, and last but not least, the homage to that fine glass of whiskey we started this all with, as their walk-off statement, in-time crowd handclaps, sardonic bro-smile and all:

So whiskey, won’t you come and take my troubles
‘Cause I can’t seem to do it on my own
In the morning there is hours and infinity
The starlit evening’s come to take me home
The starlit evening’s come to take me home