Mountain Standard Time’s Mardi Grass concert tightened the band’s noose over the Fox Theatre Saturday night with a powerful lineup featuring Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band and Tahoe’s Dead Winter Carpenters. Finishing up its 3-night Colorado run that hit Fort Collins, Denver and Boulder, the fierce and showy Mountain Standard Time paced its audience well through a masterful series of sets and sit ins.
The band’s third annual Mardi Gras-like party lay to rest any questions of its return to the forefront of the Front Range music scene. With an outstanding kickoff from the furious sound of Dead Winter Carpenters, Mardi Grass filled out the Fox early. Rumor spread quickly that there were not enough tickets, and from the look inside, the show was probably not far from a complete sell-out. Anxious college students and aging jam-band groupies scrambled to catch tickets outside of the show, raising the excitement through a barrage of word-of-mouth and last minute phone calls that packed the music hall on the Hill.
Those that made it in witnessed a concert experience on a scale set between epic and ridiculous. Walking on stage, Mountain Standard Time took in the crowd’s giant roar and began its first of two sets. It did not take long for the Nederland-based quintet to sink into its groove. With Mardi Gras beads and masks flashing through the swarms of light, the band maintained a close connection to its home crowd.
“This one is about that long and treacherous road up Canyon Road,” Nicholas Dunbar, mandolin player and singer, said during the performance, edging on the crowd. “Anyone been to Nederland, Colorado?”
The whole auditorium erupted with a body of arms reaching toward the stage.
“Whoa, that’s a lot of hands,” Stanton Sutton, guitarist and singer, said. They immediately followed with their song, “Canyon Road,” off their new EP “Sunny,” capitalizing on the band’s connection to the Boulder area.
Between the two sets of music, Mountain Standard Time delivered a host of new tunes. The band’s new ballad, “Forgotten For Rotten,” encompassed the crowd in its gypsy-esque ambiance until its fruition of monster finger-picking shattered speed records that would have made NASCAR look a bit slow. With sit-ins from old band members, local talents, Jeff Austin and fiddler Jennie Charles of Dead Winter Carpenters, fans were treated as witnesses to a magistrate of folk-style thrashings.
The night almost ended without warning, save for the three-song encore that brought out former Mountain Standard Time member Adam Pause, Charles and Austin from backstage. Closing out the show with a timeless take on the Beatles fable “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” the bluegrass cover chopped down any expectations and dished out wild finishes from Charles on fiddle and while Austin belted the song.
Huddled inside a storage closet after the show, Dunbar and Stanton expressed their feelings about their successful run hosting Mardi Grass.
“We couldn’t have asked for better support, better performances, from Jeff and Winter, and all those guys,” Dunbar said. “It was just like everybody was so on point, and really excited about the whole project.”
“They all bring their own energy to the table,” Stanton said. “They all take command of the stage when they are playing. It’s fun to just sit back and let them shred over us just like, chuckin’ along.”
The two frontmen also expressed their trials and tribulations of coming back to the stage after changing their lineup and woodshedding.
“Well the funny thing is, we played the Fox in October, and it wasn’t like this,” Stanton said.
“We definitely have a young crowd so the kids graduate and kids get into different things and stuff like that,” Dunbar said. “Everything is like a big cycle and a big circle. We play the music we play because we love to play, and we think it’s the best for people to get down to and feel and be a part of and be excited about the lyrics as well as the odd crazy stuff.”
You can download Mountain Standard Time’s new EP, “Sunny,” on the band’s website.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kyle Ward at Kyle.email@example.com.