The String Cheese Incident 7.7.12
Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Words & Photos By J-man
It wasn't looking good. We had been washed out the previous night and returned to Red Rocks to find ourselves in a similar situation as a massive storm approached. The wind picked up and the rain began to fall. Slowly at first, then with fury. We sought refuge in our vehicle as did most folks. This was not "hide under a easy up or umbrella" type of rain. This rain was similar to what we had seen the night prior... torrential rain. Hail fell on the windshield of our Jeep as the folks could just barely be seen partying in their cars as opposed to outside. Eventually, the front would pass and just a minor sprinkle would remain, triggering a massive return to lot and a lot of non-sense. For it wouldn't be a String Cheese Incident show at Red Rocks without a plethora of ridiculousness.
We made a strategic early advance on the ramp into the venue, only to find that they had already delayed doors due to the storm. There we sat in the rain, though that night it felt warmer and less intense. Finally making it up the packed ramp, we arrived to friends. Familiar faces traded pleasantries as we gained access to the venue through half-assed searches. Inside there was ample space to spread out down towards the stage. Tarps rolled out as territorial individuals defended "their" space. By the time the band took the stage, territory was no longer a factor with Red Rocks filling in.
String Cheese Incident Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 7, 2012.
Set One: Jack's Greeting, Rollover > Colliding, Drive, Look At Where We Are, Piece of Mine, Las Vegas, Bolly Munster > Rollover
Set Two: Rosie > Party Rock Anthem > Rosie, Black and White > Daryl, Love is the 7th Wave > Lands End > On the Road
Encore: Elvis' Wild Ride, Joyful Sound > Drums, Shine, Banter/Faux Encore
2nd Encore: Johnny Cash
They began with a fitting "Rollover" that sounded well rehearsed. Towards the end it began to plateau before turning into "Colliding." Kyle Hollingsworth's vocals fell a little flat leading into the chorus which just sounded off key. The jam then took a turn towards electronica, led by Jason Hann and Michael Travis, before taking off into quick vocals. "Drive" followed and featured some bright Michael Kang electric mandolin.
"We're not singing any rain songs tonight..." Keith Moseley said, half joking.
A salsa style groove took over as "Look At Where We Are" began with Keith on vocals. Single key strikes welcomed "Piece of Mine," with Kyle driving the vocal vehicle. The jam soared about half way through with Kang shredding the mando. Just when fans thought the jam had peaked, Kang took it higher and higher, before resolving to the song's signature groove.
"Bill, do you have a story to tell?" Keith asked, as Bill Nershi scrambled to make something up.
"Maybe you have something in your pocket that makes you see things differently..." Bill said, to a large cheer from the crowd.
"Las Vegas" followed with Billy's rap/vocal stylings, as well as some lead guitar work. The intensity subsided only as the song ended. The band jumped back to it with an Arabic groove that could mean only one thing, "Bolly Munster." The interesting jam dropped into a digital clav sounding section via Kyle before Kang's fiddle took back over into the main line and some unique vocal chants. Much like the show began, the band segued into "Rollover" to close the first set. What a fantastic first set closer, with everyone getting down on the Rocks as the band climaxed. The roar from the sold out crowd gave me goosebumps and I smiled from ear to ear. This is what we had all signed up for.
"Alright everybody, this is your last chance to get all of your ya ya's out... Last set at Red Rocks," Kang said with a laugh.
The beat started as "Rosie" came into the picture. The composition was as fun as always, though it was apparent that some weren't thrilled. If they only knew what was to come. A wailing synth solo from Kyle raised the energy one more notch before taking a turn towards LMFAO's "Rock Party Anthem."
"Every day I'm shufflin'" came from the stage as shocked faces were taken aback by what was transpiring.
Judgement set in and in that moment, many felt the need to separate themselves from what was minutes ago, their favorite band. Elitism is a funny thing and though many fans were frazzled, SCI knew exactly what they were getting into as they transitioned back into "Rosie." "Black and White" came next allowing some reprieve for those fans who so selfishly felt slighted. SCI transitioned into "Daryl," with Billy back on the acoustic and going strong with Kang's fiddle leaning in on the melodies.
A slow reggae sounding "Love is The 7th Wave" began and poked along before becoming spacey and ultimately heading directly into an eighteen minute "Lands End." Transitioning through many different styles, the audience was captivated by the variation and ambiance of the transitional encore as the band peaked and segued into a fitting "On The Road" to close the second set. Each individual rain drop could be seen falling from the sky through rays of light cast from the stage as folks closed their eyes and embraced the moment. The music went higher and higher through intense solos as it approached its close. SCI concluded and the crowd cheered out of appreciation and anticipation for more!
"It stopped raining, now it's snowing!" Billy said. "Thanks everybody, we had such a great time with all of you here this weekend! Thank you very much! One more group hoot for the road..." and with that Red Rocks hooted.
Michael Travis then joined Billy alone on stage, got down on his knees and began to perform... you guessed it, tap drums on Billy's guitar as he picked his way through "Elvis' Wild Ride." It was an interesting moment that eluded to additional encores with the full band. The rest of SCI returned to the stage for an expected "Joyful Sound," which had not yet shown it's face that weekend. With a hint of electronica and heavy drumming foreshadowing a Travis and Jason section, the band left the stage for a complex and enjoyable "Drums." They traded back and forth with rhythmic fury before the band returned to the stage for "Shine."
It was a beautiful moment featuring characteristic bright Cheese tones, Kang's solid vocals, Billy on acoustic and Kyle wailing on the keys. Heavy climaxing lead many to believe that moment was the end as Red Rocks exploded with applause! Several began the jog to the car to beat the rush of the exiting crowd, yet many remained and demanded more. To the surprise of everyone, The String Cheese Incident returned to the stage for one more encore!
"Well there's no place like home, no place... like... home..." Travis said with a smile.
"You're all still here huh?" Billy exclaimed. "Alright! Lets do another one!"
The band did about two measures, stopped, Kyle thanked the fans and they acted as if they were done.
"Just kidding... We're just kidding," Billy said before the band launched into "Johnny Cash."
Red Rocks went from Cheesy to Cheesier as fans flailed about in the misty rain. It was a delightful close to a blissful weekend! The String Cheese Incident will receive a lot of criticism for a few brief moments of electronica/dubstep or the covering of an LMFAO song. Ultimately, real SCI fans were able to tolerate the short moments of non-sense and silliness for the spectacular weekend that we all experienced. The band sounded great! The compositions were well rehearsed, the jams were deep and the scene was pure magic! For many it would mark the end of their summer Cheese, however for a many others, this was just the beginning!
We'll see you at Horning's!
J-man's Photo Gallery