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Story: Madisyn Siebert

Photo: Cory Weaver

Yorn Engages Crowd in Stripped-Down Show at the Pageant

Pete Yorn drew a more intimate crowd at The Pageant for his return to St. Louis on May 15—his first time back in eight years. He stripped this show down to the basics, going acoustic with no opener, no crazy stage setup and no band members. All that remained on stage were two guitars, a stool, a blue plastic cup filled with beer and Yorn himself. His simple presence made it clear that he was not trying to put on a show; he was there to connect the crowd to his music.


Despite starting almost 20 minutes late, Yorn was warmly welcomed by the audience, and the singer gave a brief hello before he led into “Vampyre.” Yorn made a habit of pausing after each song and explaining how the song came about or what moment sparked it. He really wanted to offer a better sense of who he was through his music and how it helped him develop technically as a musician and mature as an adult. Yorn also cited a range of musical influences, from iconic musicians in the ’60s to his brothers who started a band in the basement of their family home in New Jersey.


The best way to describe Yorn’s music is as a melancholy piece of candy. It can seem sweet, but once unwrapped it’s clear that there’s more to it—Yorn uses music to help work through his often sad feelings, with a lot of the themes of his music being about fear of commitment and love. “Precious Stone” was different though—it’s one song with a happy ending that Yorn performed and he himself even called a rarity.


Yorn’s show was more intimate than most at The Pageant and was reminiscent of a basement hangout. A bunch of people gathered to watch their friend perform.

Casual conversations happening among Yorn and the audience between songs. The crowd suggesting songs to Yorn and being lucky he had such a go-with-the-flow attitude when regarding his setlist.


Yorn revealed many hidden gems behind his songs throughout the evening, playing some that were hidden on separate EPs or made into bonus tracks. One moment that stood out was when Yorn described a time when he was in St. Louis and wrote a song titled, “St. Louis Trailer Song.” He explained that he penned the song in a trailer that was parked near the Mississippi River and the Arch. He even took out his phone to play a snippet of the song that was buried away.


Throughout the show Yorn mostly focused on songs from his older albums, such as “The Man,” “Pass Me By” and “Burrito.” He then switched out his guitars before cracking a joke, “If you have to pee, now is the time because I have to play some new songs,” recognizing that most of his crowd was there for his earlier music rather than his more recent releases. He elaborated saying he had two new singles that would be out by the end of the month and a new album projected to be out by the end of the summer. The crowd was excited to find out what Yorn had in store for the near future.


Overall, Yorn’s music perfectly reflects the type of person he is—a talkative, soulful yet calm musician who can entrance anyone. He truly made the audience feel like one of his longtime friends. Yorn’s acoustic show was a fun and unique way to see not only his music stripped down, but also get a chance to see his personality shine.

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