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Saturday night at the Mishawaka is always an experience. Add crisp, clear early fall weather in the Poudre Canyon and a highly popular Fort Collins band and you have an event.

Playing the Mishawaka for the second time this year, but for the first time as the lone headliner (they played the Waterfront Music Festival back in May), Head for the Hills smoked through a two-set monster of a show that spanned new material, old material and some select covers.

Openers Shel and The Grant Farm were perfect local bands to smoothly warm up the crowd and segue into Head for the Hills. Of the two, The Grant Farm in particular, which has various members who play with the band at various shows with various instruments, really put on a show. Tyler Grant was a wizard on the electric banjo this night, and the presence of grizzled veteran Benny Galloway really added to the rock and roll vibe the band produced.

By the time The Grant Farm was off the stage, much of the large and energetic crowd was in place and ready for the main attraction.

Constant touring and playing by Head for the Hills is really starting to show up in their performances. The tight cohesion is highlighted by excellent, extended open-style jamming. The presence of a keyboardist for most of this show really makes me believe these guys are now in full-on jam grass territory when doing live gigs, as opposed to the more straight-forward bluegrass/country vibe their studio albums tend to convey.

Speaking of albums, there just may be a new H4TH studio album on the horizon. It has been almost two years since their self-titled sophomore release. And that, coupled with the fact that this Saturday night at the Mish saw a variety new tunes displayed, leads one to believe it’s only a matter of time before a new disc drops.

The new tunes were brought with solid play. But it seemed that the real jamming and hard throw-downs came when the band busted out songs from their most recent studio release, which they did a lot, playing almost all of the songs of off Head for the Hills. A cover of the Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” played in the first set really placed the crowd in a frenzy that would last the duration of the night.

All in all this night was what one has almost come to expect from Fort Collins’ jam grass kings. Energetic crowd, excited band, tight, loose and free-flowing music…There is only one place for Head for the Hills to go at this point, up.

– Written by Charlie Englar, host of KRFC’s “Jam Show” Wednesdays 10PM-Midnight.