The String Cheese Incident & Bootsy Collins 12.28.13
Words & Photos By Brad Yeakel (Opti Mystic Outlooks)
Set One: Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band > A Little Help From My Friends > Just One Story, Little Hands > Dudley's Kitchen, Yo Se, Rain, Black and White(1) > I Wish(1)
Set Two: Can't Wait Another Day, Jellyfish > Rollover, Struggling Angel, Looking Glass > Dirk > Jungle Boogie > Dirk
Encore: Down A River(2), Lester Had A Coconut, Round The Wheel
(1) with Karl Denson and Chris Littlefield, (2) Billy solo
Second set opened with "Can't Wait Another Day" and gave us a taste of the calypso, island vibe that was once a signature of their sound. "Jellyfish> Rollover" were pleasant surprises. I was happy to see them play them the first night and defy many NYE expectations. While the "Jellyfish" held its own (partially due to The Tiny Universe Horns featuring Karl Denson), I felt the "Rollover" was average at best. The band tried desperately to keep the jam from falling apart all together. It was like you could see the production's vision, but the music was slightly off course and seemed to meander without direction. The next song, "Struggling Angel" was a set-killer in my opinion. Since the song was written for a fallen friend of the band, I have some level of appreciation for it, but musically it ranks among my least favorite Cheese songs. "Looking Glass" followed and was also a bit lackluster, but when the jam led to "Dirk," the energy resumed. The transition into "Jungle Boogie" was great. They let Denson and company throw down for a bit, and then segued back into "Dirk" to close the set. While I waited for the Cheese to encore, I wondered if the entire weekend was going to be lacking.
On the whole I was not impressed. The bad points in the show were as poor as I've ever heard, and while the show did have some redeeming moments, I'd rank it as one of my least favorite Cheese shows I've seen.
When I reflect on my days seeing Cheese, it's like looking back on an amazing friendship. Sure, we have gotten older, our priorities have changed. We have slowed down a step or two. We have matured. To some extent, we have grown apart. But that hasn't changed the fact that it has been an amazing friendship that has spawned some of the greatest memories of my life. I left the show thankful for my history with such an amazing band, and looked forward to another two nights celebrating 20 years of The Queso.
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