The String Cheese Incident & The Floozies 12.30.16
Words By J. Picard
Photos By Doug Fondriest Photography
VIP Set Photo By J. Picard
"Didn't care about tomorrow, worry when tomorrow comes, I went outside that night set the ole imagination a flight..."
It was the "Best Feeling" to know that though we had one show under our belts and we were in for two more before the year would end. It was Friday afternoon in Denver as Carly and I prepared for an early departure from our house to catch The String Cheese Incident's VIP set! I've seen SCI in an array of settings throughout my fifteen plus years of being a fan of the band, but none would come close to the level of intimacy in which we would experience that night. We arrived at 1stBank around 6:00 PM with our weekend passes in hand and made our way through the same entrance as the previous night, past the same friendly folks. Inside the excitement hit me!
I glanced around the small gymnasium and didn't see one familiar face among the intimate group. I guess I thought that the band's whole close-knit fanbase would be in attendance at a VIP event of the sort, but I was mistaken. Following a welcoming stage announcement from the crew, the members of SCI wandered through the crowd greeting fans, saying hello and taking pictures! We said hello to Jason Hann, Michael Kang and Bill Nershi who was extra excited that night and was joined by his better half, Jill! Carly and I spoke with Bill and Jill for a bit before the band hit the small stage for their acoustic set! Carly and I quickly moved around the room, snapping shots and outputting live updates for those who were unable to attend.
Kyle Hollingsworth wandered on to the stage with a basketball in his one good hand while the band joked about how his injury took place. The boys situated themselves on a stage that featured the leg lamp from A Christmas Story, rocking chairs, rugs and a screen that had log cabin features including a wood burning stove. It was a very special vibe and experience! The band kicked off the set with "Missin' Me" and I immediately got goosebumps! "Another Night" followed and all around it felt like a house party or something of the sort. "Hey Pocky Way" had the crowd singing along and soaking up the moment, as did "Midnight Moonlight!" I wasn't sure how long they were going to play, but I hoped that they would dive into at least one more Cheese song before the set's conclusion and sure enough "Colorado Bluebird Sky" closed the private show! As quickly as it started, it was over and the small crowd turned and b-lined towards the floor entrance to claim their spot on the rail. VIP was allowed to enter and get their place with the general public quick to follow.
After an extended break, The String Cheese Incident appeared and began with "One Step Closer." Bill's vocals were great and Kang's tone cut through with precision and a certain brightness to it. Solos were passed almost all of the way around before Michael Travis' hi-hat and Jason's congas turned up the energy a bit. "Hi Ho No Show," a song presumably off of the new album, featured a lengthy, almost two minute intro that opened into a song that sounded similar to "Valley of The Jig." It progressed the same and only towards the end did it go into a sort of different section. Up next was a track off of One Step Closer, "Until the Music Is Over." Keith Moseley's vocals sounded good and the song, though slower, included some airy sections that were pretty cool. The approach felt different from most SCI songs with clashing chords and parts that were all over the place, but seemed to intertwine.
We hung out for a short time before it became too packed and then made our way back to the concourse where we ran into Chris Thompson of Coral Creek Music! We ordered drinks, hung out for a bit and then wandered back into the bowl and onto the floor where the crowd had dispersed. At the first sign of their beloved band, the gaps quickly filled in and with the addition of The Floozies to the stage, SCI kicked off the second set with "Valley of The jig!" I was pumped! It began dark and digital with the melody following and creating a moment of pure bliss for me. Through menacing progressions, the music ripped and was a fantastic point of the weekend! Some bizarre vocals came from Jason side of the stage and created a super trippy vibe as the song built towards a massive drop. To my surprise it dropped right back into the song instead of some crazy dubstep break. "Valley of The jig" as a whole was monstrous and very well executed!
The band went directly into "Glory Chords" for a seven minute instrumental that absolutely crushed towards its end before transitioning into the Kyle staple "Let's Go Outside." The version was clean and the building process heavy! Following one last short section of Billy banter, the boys closed the second set with "Restless Wind!" Kang's fiddle took the jam to elevated heights while Kyle dug into the keys and Bill tackled the lyrics. It was a great close to a big second set! SCI stepped off stage and returned quickly pointing out Kyle heroic ability to push through his injury.
"We never cancel!" Bill yelled.
The rare "Shakin' The Tree" would close out the evening with its sweet sound. The soulful output made for a fun closer to the evening and presumably checked a song off of the list that many younger fans have been chasing. Jason did some really cool percussive tonal stuff that caught my attention leading into the song's shredding end! The band exited the stage, the lights came up and folks wandered in every direction. We collected our belongings, said good bye to some passing friends and headed to the door. Once again it was dark and cold. The warmth of our car and eventually our home was welcomed. We wound down and prepared for one last hoorah for 2016...
Doug's Photo Gallery
Set One: One Step Closer, Hi-Ho No Show, Until The Music's Over, These Waves > Nothing But Flowers, Shine
Set Two: Valley Of The Jig, Come As You Are, Sing A New Song, Falling Through The Cracks, Land's End > Glory Chords > Let's Go Outside, Restless Wind
Encore: Shakin' The Tree