As I’ve shared before, St. Louis remains dear to my heart after having lived in the area for 16 years. The Optometrist and I visited over Spring Break in 2016 and, most recently, in the summer of 2017.
Our visit, weekend before last, was expressly timed to see Punch Brothers in concert at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. In February we discovered Punch was releasing a new album and going on tour this summer, whereby we immediately purchased tickets, so this weekend was a long, anticipated time coming!
Due to Friday afternoon obligations on our university campus, we couldn’t leave Oklahoma until early evening, but we drove about halfway Friday night and finished the journey Saturday morning.
Upon our arrival, lunch was our first priority: Sushi Station in Webster Groves.
This was our first time eating there and we enjoyed not only our delicious sushi, but the waitress was exceptionally helpful, and we loved sitting at the sushi bar to watch our beautiful food be made.
The Novel Neighbor was our next stop. This independent bookstore, also in Webster, opened after I moved away from the area. I visited it last summer but did so after hearing Anne Bogel interivew store owner Holland Saltsman on Anne’s podcast, What Should I Read Next? Therefore, I felt it was completely appropriate to pre-order Anne’s new book I’d Rather Be Reading from The Novel Neighbor! Anne was in store the weekend before, so I missed out meeting her during her book tour, but my copy is still autographed and I can’t wait to dive in!
A trip to St. Louis wouldn’t be complete without stopping at our favorite coffee shop, Kaldi’s Coffee on DeMun, to enjoy a rooibos chai latte. The weather was very drizzly and overcast, making it perfect to be comforted by a warm beverage.
For the third time, we loved stayed at the Parkway Hotel, in the Central West End, and especially enjoyed revisiting Taste of Lebanon for dinner, this time with St. Louis friends who had never eaten there before.
But the concert. Oh, the concert.
We had Statler and Waldorf seats in the lower balcony, overlooking the action from a close, bird’s eye view. I’m a very petite person (~ 5′ 1″) and it seems inevitable that I get stuck behind a man 6′ 5″ in concert venues, so when we were able to select our own seats, we relished the opportunity to not have anyone sitting directly in front of us, and even had a partition blocking us from the people in the balcony suite beside us.
Madison Cunningham played a solid 30 minute opening set, but then Punch took the stage and played for a good 1 1/2 hours, with minimal breaks (a few jokes inserted here and there). The audience was dutifully respectful, responsive, and attentive – the perfect crowd to support the group we drove (in our case, 400 miles) to see. And because I’m a librarian, a note-taker, and major fan, I kept track of their set-list:
- Movement and Location
- My Oh My
- All Ashore
- Boil Weevil
- Don’t Get Married Without Me
- Angel of Doubt
- Three Dots and a Dash
- Just Look at This Mess
- Another New World
- New York City
- Jungle Bird
- It’s All Part of the Plan
- Like It’s Going Out of Style
- Rye Whiskey (encore)
- Familiarity (encore unplugged – see last photo, above)
Punch’s front man, mandolinist Chris Thile (recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2012), is now the host of NPR’s Live From Here and remains a member of Nickel Creek, whom we saw in 2014. He is in the prime of his career and The Optometrist and I feel like people will be studying his mandolin accomplishments for decades to come. As a group, Punch Brothers’ musicianship exhibited impeccable precision, individual mastery, and synchronous blending. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the set selections highlighting older favorites and all but one song from their new album, All Ashore, and left joyously inspired.