String Cheese On The Slippery Rocks
- By Chris Rossborough
- Published on July 10, 2012
|Photo Credit: Chris Rossborough|
07.05.2012 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Set I: Sometimes A River, Lost > Pygmy Pony, Song In My Head, Cedar Laurels > Under African Skies > Colorado Bluebird Sky
Set II: Let's Go Outside, Miss Brown's Teahouse > Chameleon > Miss Brown's Teahouse > Rhum 'n’ Zouc, Struggling Angel, Solution, Sand Dollar > Drums > Desert Dawn
Encore: Whiskey Before Breakfast, Outside & Inside
This past Thursday, The String Cheese Incident returned home to play the first of three epic nights at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. On a night that would prove to be the driest of the weekend, String Cheese came prepared with tight jams, classics galore and exemplary production that would satisfy even their most demanding fans.
The first set featured a number of feel-good, mellower songs to get the night started, opening with “Sometimes A River” and a phenomenal segue section that went from “Lost” into “Pygmy Pony”.
As the amphitheatre filled in and the Colorado sun slowly set over the majestic venue, String Cheese really began to take control and launched into a bouncy version of “Cedar Laurels,” which got the crowd moving a little faster and featured a unique jam section towards the end which flowed seamlessly into Paul Simon’s classic “Under African Skies.”
Mandolin player Michael Kang broke out his fiddle repeatedly throughout this section, displaying his incredible ability to play multiple instrumental solos in a single song.
Both “Under African Skies” and the subsequent “Colorado Bluebird Sky” received a raucous reception from the crowd, as Cheeseheads young and old grooved out to some phenomenal harmonizing by guitarist Bill Nershi and keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth.
The second set opened with the ever-popular “Let’s Go Outside” – an upbeat jam that got the crowd moving but featured very little improvisation. That would change as the sextet jumped right into a funky “Miss Brown’s Teahouse,” “Chameleon” and old-school “Rhum ‘n’ Zouc” sandwich, which the crowd ate up to much delight.
[FIND tour dates, downloads and more information on String Cheese Incident's official website.]
After a moving “Struggling Angel,” a new song that bassist Keith Moseley dedicated to a friend of the band who died recently, and an entertaining rendition of “Solution,” String Cheese would slide effortlessly into their most impressive portion of the evening.
As the opening notes of “Sand Dollar” rang out off the Rocks, the crowd sighed with joyous exhilaration, jubilant at the melodious fiddle playing by Kang in time with the hypnotic harmonies of Nershi, Hollingsworth and Moseley.
A superb drum jam was up next, provided by the dynamic drum/percussion duo of Michael Travis and Jason Hann. The Colorado faithful in attendance stomped their feet to the pounding beats, allowing the energy to overflow within the amphitheatre, eventually erupting into the opening section of the crowd-favorite “Desert Dawn.”
“Dawn” would continue to build, escalating the dance party into an all-out frenzy. And then, out of nowhere, String Cheese would turn Red Rocks on it’s head and drop the biggest surprise of the night: dubstep.
As fans looked at each other in bewilderment, traditionalists grimaced and newcomers went wild, Cheese would prove once again that they are a band without boundaries, without rules and without fear of pushing their sound into new and uncharted territory.
The encore would see an instrumental version of the bluegrass classic, “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” highlighted of course by Nershi, before the boys launched into the always fun “Outside and Inside.” Overall, a fantastic finale to a magical first night of Cheese on the Rocks.
|Photo Credit: Chris Rossborough|
07.06.2012 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Set I: Birdland > Wheel Hoss > Birdland, Rain
Set II: Restless Wind, Water > Search, Turn This Around > Breathe > Turn This Around, Way That It Goes, So Far From Home, It Is What It Is > Bumpin' Reel > Black Clouds
Encore: Can't Wait Another Day, Little Hands > I Know You Rider
Encore II: The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)
Friday would prove to be another memorable evening, both for the music and the weather. A light drizzle encompassed the venue early, but had largely subsided by the time String Cheese took the stage for the second night of the weekend. However, this would not last for long.
After breezing through an inspiring rendition of “Birdland,” interrupted briefly by the familiar picking of “Wheel Hoss,” String Cheese would truly test the fates by playing “Rain,” as dark, ominous clouds approached from the northwest.
As the song built. the first drops began to fall, and by the final chorus, the light drizzle had exploded into a torrential downpour, dousing the crowd with massive water droplets, deafening thunder and bright flashes of lightning. As the band wrapped up the prophetic jam, they announced that there was no choice but to take a short 45-minute rain delay and wait out the storm. As fans rushed for shelter under trees, inside the museum and even all the way back to their cars, the rain only seemed to come down harder and harder, morphing into a true Colorado monsoon.
What was supposed to be a 45-minute wait eventually became two hours, but eventually word got out that the band would return to the stage around 10:20 p.m., and this time would be open to any and all people who wished to enter the amphitheatre – ticketholders and otherwise.
The second set would be a heater, seeing bust-outs like “Restless Wind” and “Search.” Additionally, a number of memorable covers would make an appearance, starting with Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” sandwiched right in the middle of a rare “Turn This Around.” Throughout the set, the crowd ecstatically danced away the cold, rain-soaked air, erupting during crescendos and subsiding during the more tranquil, downtempo sections, moving and waving like grass blowing in the wind.
[FOLLOW String Cheese Incident on Facebook.]
The last segue section of the set was again one of the highlights of the night, as the boys flowed from an impressive “It Is What It Is” through a mesmerizing “Bumpin’ Reel” – a track which combines gorgeous fiddle licks by Kang with a mesmerizing electro beat to create an elegant and ethereal soundscape. Finally, they jumped into another classic, “Black Clouds,” which received another massive reception from the Red Rocks crowd.
The second night encore would see String Cheese clearly trying to make up for the time lost in the first set from the thunderstorms, playing a double encore that included the brand new track “Can’t Wait Another Day,” the timeless “Little Hands” and another two covers in The Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider” and Bob Dylan’s “The Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo).” It was an appropriate finale to an unpredictable evening.
Strong, purposeful jamming defined the night and most of the Colorado faithful left satisfied with the show, despite the unexpected and violent rainstorm that had consumed the venue. Even more exciting was the prospect that there was still one more night of Cheese to go.
|Photo Credit: Chris Rossborough|
07.07.2012 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
Set I: Rollover > Colliding, Drive, Look At Where We Are, Piece of Mine, Las Vegas, BollyMunster > Rollover
Set II: Rosie > Party Rock Anthem > Rosie, Black & White > Daryl, Love is the 7th Wave > Land's End > Glory Chords > On The Road
Encore: Elvis's Wild Ride, Joyful Sound > Drums > Shine
Encore II: Johnny Cash
The energy in the lot prior to night three was unmistakably electric, as Colorado Cheeseheads gathered one more time to partake in the weekends’ jam music festivities at Red Rocks. The crowds seemed larger, the anticipation ran higher and even a light drizzle that had blanketed the Front Range all day didn’t seem to discourage a single person from being excited about this final, epic night.
String Cheese opened their third show of the weekend in similar fashion to their 2009 Rothbury Incident reunion, busting out the always-popular and brilliantly written “Rollover” to get things started.
The end jam section of “Rollover” segued seamlessly into a beautiful rendition of “Colliding” as raindrops began to fall in increasing frequency, dousing everyone in a cold mist that this time the crowd was prepared for.
Cheese would jam on through the rain undeterred, flowing through an aptly titled “Look at Where We Are,” which sent a palpable vibe through the amphitheatre, reminding folks that it was still a luxury to be experiencing such a show in a legendary venue like Red Rocks, despite the weather.
After a rousing “Piece of Mine” that got everybody on their feet, Cheese would jump into one of their most impressive tracks of the night, “Las Vegas.” This song featured some incredible harmonizing by Moseley, Kang, Nershi and Hollingsworth, who seemed to connect soulfully and blend their individual sounds to create a lush and groovy jam that had many calling out in blissful euphoria.
The final portion of he first set would see a first-time Colorado play of one of String Cheese’s newer and more popular songs, “BollyMunster.” Described by Michael Kang at The Hangout Festival back in May as “a mish-mash of Calcutta meets Appalachia,” this schizophrenic song was taken to new heights, transcending the rain with gorgeous Celtic-esque fiddle melodies, a pounding electronic beat and spiraling guitar solos that resonated off the Rocks.
After jumping right back into “Rollover,” creating a massive first set sandwich out of the song, Cheese took a short set break as the rain subsided back to a dull drizzle.
The second set would start off in a much more upbeat manner, as the boys jumped right into the club-friendly “Rosie,” receiving a raucous reception from the crowd. As the rowdy dance party continued, String Cheese would reveal yet another unexpected surprise for the weekend: a cover of LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”
[FIND complete lineups, ticketing information and analysis of all your favorite festivals via our 2012 Festival Guide.]
Most of the crowd looked at each other in disbelief that their hallowed jam band would even consider touching such a mainstream pop song. The band seemed to notice the drastically negative shift in crowd energy, launching right back into “Rosie” before anyone even knew what hit them.
The middle section of the second set would see The String Cheese Incident explore some super spacey, jammed out versions of “Black and White,” “Daryl” and a cover of Sting’s “Love is the 7th Wave” before moving into a spot on rendition of “Land’s End,” which seemed to garner an enormous response from the eager crowd. The jam portion of this track really stood out, with breathtaking violin solos courtesy of Kang.
The band then patiently segued into “Glory Chords,” delivering a beautiful bridge between the previous “Land’s End” and moving swiftly into “On The Road.” The song featured exemplary jamming by Nershi, Hollingsworth and Kang, and the whole band seemed to really be functioning on an otherworldly level.
Overall, the final section of the second set was reminiscent of what many diehard Cheese fans consider the “glory era” (1999-2002), disproving those critics who claim that String Cheese has lost a lot of their magical luster and talent in recent years. The crowd loved every minute of it, and seemed sincerely grateful for such a beautiful weekend, regardless of the weather situation.
The encore for the final night would see some of the boys best jamming of the entire weekend. Cheese opened with “Elvis’s Wild Ride,” a pseudo-duet track featuring Nershi on melody and Travis pounding out complementary beats on the body of Nershi’s guitar. This jam was exceptionally impressive and fun to watch, and the crowd responded magnificently.
Next up was the ever-popular “Joyful Sound,” a track that has seen more and more dubstep influence over the past few years. Despite this, String Cheese seemed to decide this night would be different, choosing instead to include an inspiring drum solo towards the last portion of the song.
The final encore of the weekend featured a fun and funky rendition of “Johnny Cash,” a crowd favorite and one that had many in attendance grinning from ear to ear and laughing along at the goofy lyrics.
Any and all reservations that the crowd may have had about the wet and wild weekend were reconciled during the second set of night three, and left many Cheeseheads exhausted yet satisfied.
Despite the weather, The String Cheese Incident really seemed to make their Colorado homecoming rather special, delivering magical jams, unexpected segues and breathtaking visuals to a captivated and dedicated audience.
Find a complete list of tour dates on String Cheese Incident’s official website.