The String Cheese Incident 12.31.12

1stBank Center
Broomfield, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By Kevin Hahn
Audio By Peter Coffan

The stage was set for the first String Cheese Incident New Years on the front range, and Colorado was ready for it. The state had been buzzing since the initial announcement of the run and the tickets going on sale. The first two nights had come on gone and there we were starring down night three of what was an incredible three night extravaganza. Walking through the doors of the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, CO, felt like being sent through a portal to another planet. Folks dawned costumes, face paint, glitter and other nonsensical objects. As fans passed through the ticketing lines they were given what at the time appeared to be some sort of LED bracelet, though it was not illuminated. So many hugs were given, so many smiles were passed and as we purchased our first and second round of drinks we made our way into the line to get onto the capacity floor of the 1stBank.

"Alright, how are you guys going to spend the last moments of 2012? This is your last chance to do everything that you wanted to do before the year ends," Michael Kang said to a huge response from the sold out crowd.

String Cheese Incident Live at 1st Bank Center on December 31, 2012.

Set One: Mouna Bowa, Shine, Can't Stop Now, Song In My Head, Struggling Angel, Collliding, Restless Wind

Set Two: Miss Brown's Teahouse > How Mountain Girls Can Love, Piece of Mine, Best Feeling > Search, Sledgehammer > Rosie

Set Three: Let's Go Outside, Land's End, Colorado Bluebird Sky > Bumpin' Reel, Desert Dawn > Sweet Emotion > Desert Dawn

Encore: Bolly Munster > Colorado Bluebird Sky

As we waited in line to gain access to the floor, the first few notes of "Mouna Bowa" kicked off the show and the extended evening was under way! "Mouna Bowa" has always been one of my favorites and to have SCI start the show with it foreshadowed a great evening. It's always great to see Kang start a show with his fiddle in hand. "Shine" occupied the following fifteen minutes of the show with energy building beauty. The intricacies of the song weren't perfect, but felt raw and pure. Kang's vocals were solid and took Cheese fans on a mental journey, before Kyle Hollingsworth's wailing organ stepped in to bring listeners back in. "Can't Stop Now" prompted a burst of excitement from the wide-eyed crowd. "Song in My Head" followed with Billy Nershi's vocal contribution and some ripping Kang mandolin. "Struggling Angel" sounded developed and brought many back to reality, as well created a special moment for several in attendance. "Colliding" began and triggered a massive dance party, with Kyle at the lead both vocally and instrumentally. The song featured some interesting electronic work. The first set closed with "Restless Wind" that was loose, explorative and featured Kang on the fiddle yet again.

The second set began with yet another fan favorite, "Miss Brown's Teahouse." Cheese fans sang along with the band, danced wildly to the funky chops of Billy's guitar and lost their minds to Kang's ripping electric mandolin. The characteristic melodies of "Miss Brown's" began to fade as the song transitioned into "How Mountain Girls Can Love," that featured a compositional mix of bluegrass, electro and jam. The crowd ate it up as Keith Moseley slapped away at the base before the rest of the band jumped back into the mix. "Piece of Mine" came next with Kyle hitting the keys in a singular fashion. Though the song itself seemed to be a sort of filler, the jam was huge. "Best Feeling" followed and went through a range of changes and styles, all that fit perfectly into SCI's pocket. Twenty one minutes later the song transitioned into "Search," which may have drawn the loudest cheer from the crowd up to that point in the show. That moment reminded me of why it is I love Cheese; the beautiful tones, soaring melodies, sound lyrics and the flow of the songs. "Search" concluded with a drum/percussion solo from Michael Travis & Jason Hann. Up next was a song that Kyle had covered recently leading up to the SCI run, Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer." The instrumental section was good, but the transition into "Rosie" was much needed. Kyle's "Rosie" once again turned 1stBank Center into a dance party with ripping synth and reasonable electro-beats. The vibe was elevated.

One last break came and went as folks got into position for the balloon drop. Characters on stilts, dawning furs, began to assemble in the halls of the venue. The third set began with yet another Kyle tune, "Let's Go Outside." Though I don't mind the tune, I scratched my head and hoped that this would not be the tune that carried us into 2013. With the first few notes of "Land's End," we knew it was on! The light, meandering notes tickled our ears and teased our minds. The jam slowly began to grow and expand as large balloons began to bounce around the crowd. Then, from each side of the arena bowl came fairy-like characters flying and moving to the music. All of a sudden the LED bracelets came to life in one of the coolest interactive moment that I have ever experienced at a concert. Ropes dropped from the ceiling and acrobatics ensued. To say it was a spectacle would be an absolute understatement. It was sensory brilliance. The bracelets flashed in unison, the countdown began and the balloons and confetti fell! The moment was absolutely blissful. I stood with my jaw hanging open, kissed my girlfriend and came to the realization that there was no place else that I'd rather have been. Surrounded by friends, familiar faces and all of the positive energy was perfect.

Balloons popped in the crowd as Billy spoke up. "We're going to play you a song here... This has got a lot of things that I thought about moving from back east, moving out here to Colorado. It was a very wonderful move. I'm very happy about that. Sounds like you're happy too! Woooo!"

"Colorado Bluebird Sky" was the perfect beginning to 2013. Folks danced without a care in the world as their favorite band played an old-school favorite. The song was executed flawlessly, though left unfinished as the band transitioned into "Bumpin' Reel," taking the crowd to space. Kang's fiddle touched on some fantastic middle eastern sounding notation. "Dessert Dawn" entered the picture to the delight of the semi-coherent crowd. Following Kang's vocal section, the jam took off to high peaks before coming back down and slowly transitioning into an unexpected "Sweet Emotion." They did the song justice, while at the same time making it extremely cheesy. The jam ripped then went back into "Dessert Dawn" to close the incredible third set. My brain was left scrambled as I stared at the illuminated stage.

The band returned to the stage, thanked the fans, crew and staff with an intoxicated Group Hoot, before Kang's signature lick from "Bolly Munster" over took 1stBank Center. I was thrilled as "Bolly Munster" has quickly become one of my favorite newer String Cheese tunes. The sonic range and middle eastern tones make for an interesting semi-electro composition and along side Kyle clav sounds, "Bolly Munster" was a powerhouse. About nine minutes later the song transitioned back into the earlier unfinished "Colorado Bluebird Sky" for another ten minutes to close the show! What a beautiful way to ring in the new year! As the house lights came up, the 1stBank was used and abused, with the remainders of party favors coating the floor. Wide-eyed folks came to the realization that the party had concluded and that it as time to locate their rides. Satisfied fans said their good-byes to folks who had shared in the evening's magic with them. All that was left were the memories of a three night party or epic proportions...

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  1. I went to Umphreys for new years but the videos my friends have from cheese are unreal. I not the biggest cheese fan but they always put on hell of a show. Great post keep up the hard work. Check these out IStillGotMyGuitar.


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