The String Cheese Incident 12.30.12

1st Bank Center
Broomfield, CO

Words & Photos By Kevin Hahn
Audio By Peter Coffan

As my fingers froze and my knees quivered I realized how lucky I really was… I was with some of the coolest and grooviest people I had ever come across, about to see my all-time most favorite band, and we were fifteen minutes away from my house! How in the hell did I have this good of luck? Maybe it was the Irish in me or all the karma I had stored up for purposes just like these. Or could it be the all-mighty power of Le Cheese? Is it possible for a group of musicians to control the universe around us and influence the way things might be perceived? Usually with questions like these I tend to scoff or laugh hysterically, as I am not one to believe in “unknown forces”, unless they come from Yoda himself. In this instance, The String Cheese Incident took the place of Yoda in providing us with insight and wisdom into a journey many of us had been waiting for since we left the magical forest known as Horning’s Hideout ever so long ago. No matter how cold it got or how freezing we were, nothing was going to stop us from raging our faces off at night two of Cheese’s Hometown Throwdown. And rage we did…

String Cheese Incident Live at 1st Bank Center on December 30, 2012.

Set One: Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland, Rain, Black and White, Little Hands, Can't Wait Another Day, Pack It Up, Outside And Inside, Just One Story

Set Two: Texas > Kinky Reggae > It Is What It Is, I'll Be Waiting, Rhythm of the Road, This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody), Joyful Sound > Texas

Encore: Jump > Whiskey Before Breakfast

After settling close to Kyle Hollingsworth in the stands of the 1stBank Center I gazed over the crowd hoping to find some of my long lost Cheese phamily. Tonight would be my first experience in the realm of professional photography (please see pictures!) and I wanted to make sure and say one last “Love you” and our motto for the weekend “YAY Cheese!” before heading down into the photo pit. I got my hugs and kisses out of the way and ran down to the very front of the crowd to take some up-close pictures of my musical heroes and then the first few notes of “Birdland” hit. As the thousands of enthusiastic CheeseHeads went crazy behind me I had a very hard time restraining myself from dancing my pants off being so close to the action, but I knew that “professionalism” was a must and I decided to only boogie a tad bit. After some extended jamming and a well-received “Wheelhoss," the barefooted boys came back into “Birdland” to finish out their first segue of the night. Even though there were a few iffy/choppy parts, starting off the show with this jazz classic and fan favorite is always a good choice in my book. The familiar keyboard chords of “Rain” came next and I wondered if the roof would slide back and a torrential downpour would engulf us, as the last time we heard this song was the epic night two of Cheese’s Red Rocks run this summer. (Remember that craziness?) As always “Rain” gave us a full range of Kyle’s abilities on an assortment of his musical toys and the smile radiating from his face was infectious to say the least. The boys sounded on point and well-tuned, as the first set continued to push towards jam-bliss.

Much like the delicious cookie it is named for, “Black and White” is a clash of funky grooves and smooth mandolin transitions. This version however was again taken over by the night’s MVP Kyle, and given a keyboard-esque feeling the entire time. “Little Hands” came next and provided us with one of the definite musical highlights of the entire 3-night run. This song blends beautiful Billy Nershi acoustic guitar riffs, short Kyle grand piano spurts, and some downright amazing fiddle with an island type drumbeat to make for one of the crowd’s absolute favorite pieces. (Noteworthy in this version is Kyle’s piano solo from 4:58–6:00) “Can’t Wait Another Day” followed and as the crowd bounced I knew this was my best chance for a bathroom break, and I took it knowing that this song was not going to provide any spectacular moment in which I would hate myself for missing. I was correct in my thinking and arrived back into the stands right in time for Kyle’s awesome funk groove known as “Pack It Up”. This song has become one of my friends favorite Kyle tunes as it just makes your feet move and butt shake. There was not one person in the entire venue not dancing to this funk-bomb and Kyle kept it going for the longest and best version of “Pack It Up” I have ever witnessed. Well done sir! How in the fuck would Cheese follow up that ridiculousness? Enter Michael Kang and his big muscles…

“Outside and Inside” has slowly become one of my favorite Cheese songs due to the pure shredding Michael Kang provides us and in my opinion some great lyrics. This version was fast and furious as Asian Trey ripped, roared, and ravished that electronic mandolin of his into a shrieking monster. Billy Nershi was trying his best to keep up, but nothing was going to come close to the ferocity of Kang’s playing and the expression on his face proved it. “Just One Story” was chosen as the set-closer and the crowd erupted when the final note was played. What a way to start off Night two!

Set two was going to have a tough time matching the amazing display in which we just witnessed, and aside from a few highlights it missed the boat in my opinion. “Kinky Reggae”, “It Is What It Is”, “Naïve Melody > Rhythm of the Road” and “Whiskey Before Breakfast” were well played and placed in perfect use throughout the setlist. Kang did a great job singing cover songs and Bob Marley would not be disappointed with the version Cheese blasted out. After the reggae party came to a close the opening drum bashing of “It Is What It Is” came bouncing off the 1stBank Center walls with such a force my camera almost flew out of my hand. This song is just one big momentum builder placed on top of high-flying and shrieking mandolin/guitar solos and the crowd loved every minute of it. Even though it was not as majestic as the Horning’s version, it definitely was one of the more improvisational and “Cheesiest” moments of the evening. “Naïve Melody” is always a good one to play in front of your hometown fans and this take on the Talking Heads classic was right on point. With Kyle leading the way the barefooted boys cheerfully bounced their way through the happy tune, which had an extended jam worth noting. I personally adore “Rhythm of the Road” and all of the quirkiness it provides us as Billy Nershi fanatics! With his white locks bouncing up and down on stage Billy led Cheese through this with the look of a determined leader and provided us with some amazing acoustic guitar riffs sandwiched in between Kang’s ferocity and Kyle’s playfulness. “Whiskey Before Breakfast” has always brought the crowd to a roaring, jumping, and beer drinking party atmosphere, which is unmatched at many other musical shows.

But what about the other Set two songs you ask? I’ll explain:

-Texas: Heard it a million times and there just isn’t any improvisation going on at all
-I’ll Be Waiting: Billions of songs possible and Cheese chooses this Adele snooze-fest? WTF!
-Joyful Sound: Wompy and wasteful of an amazing song… lyrics almost saved it
-Jump: Another horrible cover choice… Michael Travis needs to lay off the crazy pills

So what can we take from Night two of this anticipated hometown New Year’s run for Le Cheese? Again I explain:

-Billy needs a haircut/shave badly...
-Practice makes perfect! Being in the studio has helped Cheese tremendously…
-When they have fun on stage, we get to rage in the crowd
-Kang needs bigger muscles in order to actually rip his mandolin in half while playing
-Kyle is by far the funkiest keyboard master
-Keith still has a sexy/silky voice and we need to hear more of it! (Sweet Melinda anyone??)
-The EOTO boys will forever do their thing, so bring ear plugs!

In the end, Night two was a joyous occasion for all involved and I couldn't wait for Night three. To all involved and especially to Cheese, I say much love and thanks for the good times!

Kevin's Photo Gallery


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