The String Cheese Incident 7.26 & 7.27.13

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, CO

Words By J-man
Photos By J-man & Kevin Hahn (Split Open & Shoot Photography)
Audio By Peter Coffan

The peak of summer for many is marked by The String Cheese Incident's multiple night run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This year, Red Rocks would only play host to two nights of SCI as opposed to the usual three. Unlike many other touring acts, SCI struggled to sell out the nine thousand plus venue in their home state, with only Saturday night selling out in the end. With criticism reaching a boiling point for SCI in regards to their performances, song selections and their utilization of dupstep, the band were under the microscope from their increasingly critical fan base. On top of the open criticism that the band has been receiving, Horning's Hideout tickets have been popping up on Facebook and Craigslist from one hundred dollars, to best offer/free, with speculation surrounding the reality of Horning's being "Sold out" as the band had previously claimed. Folks flocked to the Rocks for two nights with high hopes of seeing one of their favorite bands on top of their game.

Friday July 26th, 2013:

Red Rocks' Lower South Lot filled in with the sun still high in the sky around the 3:00 PM hour. Clearly many of the folks in attendance either didn't have jobs or had a solid grip on their priorities in life. It was open game on the lot with hippies selling all sorts of knock off merch, patchwork wears and intoxicants of a wide variety. Massive Red Rocks ripped through earth vertically towards the sky in an impressive array making for one of the most, if not the most beautiful lot scene in the country. College chairs and beer became the most prominent items in the gravel lot as show time approached. With doors open, it was time to make the lengthy hike up to the Rocks. The energy was high among the cheese heads sporting glitter, stickers, costumes and unfathomable accessories. On the side of the stage the band huddled for a pre-game hoorah. At the first sign of the band, the near capacity crowd erupted with excitement. Bill Nershi removed his shoes and rolled up his pants as he always does, Kyle teased a common iPhone ringer on the keys prompting many to glance down at their phones before Kyle said "Please turn off your phones during the show... You, who's phone is that?"

String Cheese Incident Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 26, 2013.

Set One: Shine > Mouna Bowa, Close Your Eyes, Up The Canyon > Freedom Jazz Dance, Sing A New Song > Don't Say > Restless Wind

Set Two: Let's Go Outside > Tinder Box > Big Shoes > 100 Year Flood > Far From Home > Just One Story

Encore: Shakin' The Tree > Rosie > Around the World > Rosie

The band began the with a beautiful Michael Kang led "Shine," that extended past the seventeen minute mark and included some spacey jamming before turning towards "Mouna Bowa." The transition was brief, but the flow was near perfect as the band executed each run of notes perfectly. Kang's fiddle sounded out over the rocks, bouncing from row to row, with Keith Moseley's bass shaking the insides of those closer to the stage before working its way outward. "Close Your Eyes" came next with Kyle Hollingsworth stepping up for his first vocal contribution of the weekend. Micheal Travis and Jason Hann's drum and percussion work created a solid foundation for Kang to take liberties on improvisational tangents. A short "Up The Canyon" went into "Freedom Jazz Dance," which got loose and involved some of the most interesting/jazzy instrumentation up to that point in the show. "Sing A New Song" kicked off with Billy on lap steel/slide guitar before resolving to the chorus and going into a seventeen minute "Don't Say" that got a touch electronic. The intensity picked up with grungy effects and screaming synth before Kyle's vocals kicked in and the band returned to in depth jams that reflected a much more practiced group from what fans had experienced in the beginning portion of tour. "Don't Say" quietly transitioned into "Restless Wind" to the excitement of the Colorado crowd. Kang switched between the electric mandolin and the fiddle while Kyle tore into his keys and Bill jumped into the air. They were clearly having fun, as were their "critics." With the closing of the first set of the weekend came smiles all around.

"Hey, you're still here? We just came to get our stuff," Billy said with a smile before thanking everyone for coming out and supporting SCI. Then a very telling moment came when Billy said "there are so many of you and you're all above us and I'm scared that if I play the wrong note you might come down here and kick my butt. You wouldn't do that, would ya? Maybe? No, that's just my inner voice talking. Don't listen to that." He then lead the packed house in a collective group hoot. With the click of Kyle's clavinet it was clear that "Let's Go Outside" would follow and indeed it did. The song opened into a very loose and jammed out mid section that had some odd drum sampling before going into "Tinder Box" that quickly built like a wildfire. Through several sections the band went, taking the audience on a ride with them, arriving at a spacey slide solo from Billy before the drums took over and not much happened for a couple of minutes. They picked back up and transitioned seamlessly into a twenty minute "Big Shoes" that seemed to go on forever. A massive red moon appeared in the sky behind Red Rocks as "Big Shoes" turned into "100 Year Flood," bringing a more soulful sound. Kang leaned into his solos as he had done all night, really stepping it up and stealing the show. Without stopping they went right into "Far From Home" building and building to a fantastic peak, only bringing it down to transition into an uninteresting reggae jam before ending the first set with "Just One Story." Billy's acoustic chops were on as Kang belted out. They slowed the energy down to a near stand still and started immediately building towards the set's inevitable conclusion with one more massive peak.

Billy thanked the crowd once more before the band stepped off stage, only to return a few minutes later with Peter Gabriel's "Shankin' The Tree." The slow African rhythms created a dreamlike vibe, before slowly building with Kyle's wailing keys and Kang's extensive note holds before going into Kyle's "Rosie!" The signature lick and drumbeat turned Red Rocks into an all out dance party. What came next is something that will have Cheese fans talking for some time. The band transitioned into Daft Punk's "Around The World" with Kang on vocoder. The place erupted with excitement and cheer as dancing ensued and the band transitioned back into "Rosie" to close a fantastic two sets of music! If Saturday wasn't already sold out at that point, it would have immediately following all of the online chatter from Friday's stellar show. As fans poured out into the lots taxis, towing vehicles and wide eyed folks sat idle as the mass exodus began, only to return hours later for round two!

Saturday July 27th, 2013:

For many, Saturday's party got a much later start than Friday's. Far less critics turned out as it seems many had been converted back to fans overnight. The initial push from the lots towards the venue welcomed the first crashes of lightning and thunder in the distance. Inside the venue an announcement came over the house speakers that lightning had struck within' two miles and it may be in our best interest to return to our cars or seek shelter. The final plea was that we could remain on the rocks at our own risk. With that the sky fell, first just a little, but quickly becoming something worth seeking shelter from. Down inside the hollowed out portion under the rocks that houses the restrooms, the museum and the grille, many folks sought shelter, hanging up their clothes to dry anywhere they could. It wasn't long before the corridor wreaked like a wet dog. The venue shook with the rumbling of thunder and the thought of those trapped outside in the raging storm was discouraging at best.

String Cheese Incident Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater on July 27, 2013.

Set One: Song In My Head > Come As You Are, Can't Wait Another Day, Don't It Make You Wanna Dance > Dudley's Kitchen, Look At Where We Are, Eye Know Why, Could You Be Loved, Rollover

Set Two: Drums > Rivertrance > It Is What It Is, Johnny Cash > Don't Bring Me Down > Johnny Cash, Colliding, Search, Sirens > BollyMunster, Colorado Bluebird Sky

Encore: After Midnight(1) > Outside And Inside(1)

Second Encore: Way Back Home

Notes: (1) with Anders Osborne

Following little to no delay the band took the stage and began with "Song In My Head," and Kang picking up right where he left off, before the band segued into "Come As You Are." The salsa vibe took over as folks shuffled their feet. Soaring dual melodies from Kang and Nershi led to Kyle's screaming keys and Keith's heavy slap bass lines. "Can't Wait Another Day" led off with pouring rain and Jason's hand drum work before the rest of the band jumped in with Kyle saying "you guys look great out there! Just keep thinking dry thoughts." Walls of water overtook the crowd as the band played on through tight sections. "It's good that we didn't play 'Waiting For The Snow To Fall,'" Kyle said with a smirk. "A little rain is not going to stop us," Kang said smiling as the crowd cheered loudly. "Hey guys, there may be a sharknado warning out there. Be on the lookout..." Jason said. "What was that Jason? A what?" Kyle said acting as if he hadn't watch the whole damn Sharknado feature. "A sharknado... They're out there these days," Jason exclaimed.

"Don't It Make You Want To Dance" began with Billy encouraging the crowd to sing along, before the sort of bluegrass roll began. Through a vocal oriented composition and even an acapella breakdown, the band headed right into ripping acoustic work from Billy. The rain poured down and a feeling of bliss overtook the crowd as the band passed around solos. SCI cooled it off a little bit with "Dudley's Kitchen," before the rain began to slow down and the band dove into "Eye Know Why." The song involved some massive shredding and peaking, opening up the composition to some electronic work from the percussion section at the back of the stage, better known as EOTO. Just as they started Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved," fog filled the amphitheatre creating an extremely euphoric vibe that included flashes of light and a lack of visibility outside what began to feel almost like an indoor venue. Kang sang the lead while Kyle and Keith filled in on the background/female vocals. "Rollover" came next soaring from the get go and eluded to the closing of the first set. The middle section slowed down and made room for Jason's percussion work and eventual move towards the laptop. Kyle took the lead passing it to Kang who led the charge into the songs final progressions. With setbreak came an influx of people heading down under Red Rocks to dry off and warm up.

The second set began with a feat that had never been accomplished at Red Rocks. Micheal Travis And Jason Hann began the set on top of the towers on each side of the stage for what is being dubbed "Tower Drums." The jam itself wasn't all that special, but the concept was pretty cool and folks in the crowd dug it. "Drums" became the intro to Kang's "Rivertrance," as he subtly teased the fiddle alongside Kyle's spacey synth. Kang's beautiful fiddle overtook Red Rocks and the minds of those in attendance as Billy grabbed the reigns. The song's jam has really developed into an assault of sonic output. "Rivertrance" turned into "It Is What It Is" with a sort of sloppy transition. As the song unfolded, Kang delivered, nailing each note with precision as he tore through modular progressions with incredible direction and tone. The band halted with a roar from the crowd, only to resume and dig back into the song. "What's up Red Rocks? That was crazy! Thanks for hanging out in the rain with us. It's that kind of extreme stuff that really kind of makes it all worth it," Kang said laughing.

Fan favorite "Johnny Cash" was pulled from the catalog and presented to the fans with energetic fury. Folks sang along loudly before the band went into Electric Light Orchestra's "Don't Bring Me Down" for a short time, dropping into one of the weekend's only dubstep segments, before returning to "Johnny Cash." There were some sideways looks from the old timers, as it didn't really flow, but it was short lived and came without consequence. [In other words, "you'll be alright, don't let it ruin your weekend."] "Colliding" followed with a similar sound and intro to "Rosie," only to resolve to another Kyle composition. More electronic material came into picture for the middle of the song, settling towards the end. "Search" kicked off with folks blowing up beach balls and Billy's guitar and vocal work. The song was beautifully played and a welcome throwback. Kang once again switched over to fiddle for a beautiful section before an all out drum dual took shape. "Sirens" paved the way for a jam that meandered along before it teased and lead into "Bollymunster," which triggered a middle eastern get down. The ensuing jam reflected solid growth in a newer song. Billy once again thanked the crowd before offering an expected yet satisfying "Colorado Bluebird Sky" to close the second set. The band spent the following eleven minutes building and building and building to a fantastic high point before tearing it all down!

SCI returned to the stage for an also expected JJ Cale tune. However, what was not expected was that guitarist and vocalist Anders Osborne would be leading the charge! "After Midnight" it was and the song fit well into the set. Anders' vocals were pleasant and his playing was rowdy as he traded solos with Kang, who tapped into Jerry Garcia's tone. "After Midnight" transitioned into "Outside Inside," with Billy stepping up to get in on the action. It was a great way to close the show, so we thought. "We'll see you back here in Colorado for New Years!" Keith said as the band once again exited the stage. As the crowd began to slowly disperse it became clear that the house lights had still not come up. The band returned to the still lit stage and the second encore came in the form of "Way Back Home." It was a great way to end an incredible two night run on the rocks. SCI built it up and tore it down once more for the sold out crowd! Folks were pleased and many who had considered backing out of Horning's were now back to the idea of attending. What started with criticism, was quickly quelled with two nights of ripping music from The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. As quickly as the weekend came, it was gone and all that was left was a hippie with his thumb in the air and a sign that read "Heading to Hornings!"

J-man's Friday Photo Gallery

Kevin's Saturday Photo Gallery


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