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Published: 2009/07/06

Rothbury Day 1: Surprise String Cheese and More Michael Jackson Tributes

The String Cheese Incident offered a surprise public soundcheck last night as part of the opening night of Michigans Rothbury Festival. Though no music was scheduled to take place on the four-day festivals main stageThe Odeumthe six members of String Cheese emerged around 6:30 PM to play Sometimes a River, Rivertrance, Jessica and How Mountain Girls Can Love. Bill Nershi described the audience as the most enthusiastic crowd for a soundcheck he has even seen. After playing a freeform jam that teased several other selections such as Miss Browns Teahouse, Keith Moseley politely asked the crowd to move on to other stages so that the band could work out its sound issues.
In many ways, The String Cheese Incident is Rothburys house band. The festival is promoted by the groups longtime manager Madison House, and certain members of the band also have a hand in non-musical aspects of the festival (Michael Kang helped curate the festivals greening efforts and oversaw several of Rothburys visual art elements). All six members played the inaugural Rothbury last summer with their individual projects, and the groups longtime lighting designer is responsible for illuminating the events trademark Sherwood Forrest. After their public soundcheck, String Cheese Incidents Kyle Hollingsworth, Keith Moseley and Jason Hann took the stage with their longtime friend Keller Williams for Kidney in a Cooler.
Williams also referenced three of the summers biggest music stories with a selection of covers: The 40th anniversary of Woodstock (Joni Mitchells Woodstock), Phishs reunion (Birds of a Feather) and Michal Jacksons death (Rock with You). As expected, a number of other artists also nodded to the fallen King of Pop during their performances. Most notably, Toubab Krewe jammed on Beat It and the hip-hop collective the Quannum All Stars covered the Jackson 5s ABC.
The festivals late night offerings consisted mostly of live electronic and hip-hop music: The Disco Biscuits, Lotus, Future Rock, 2020 Soundsystem, Break Science featuring Adam Deitch and Lyrics Born (STS9s David Murphy was also spotted around the festival, gathering information for his weekend tweets). Covers continued to play a large part in certain bands setliststhe Quannum All Stars even played Vanilla Ices Ninja Rap. One notable exception was the Los Angeles-bred indie rock band Cold War Kids, who asked the crowd to say hi to Bob [Dylan] when he plays on Sunday.
The Disco Biscuits drew the evenings biggest crowd, offering a marathon set that stretched from 12:45 into the early morning. In addition to rarities like the early, Zappa-influenced Mr. Don, the band used its marquee slot to showcase rearranged selections from its forthcoming album, including the infectious You & I.
Please visit iClips throughout the weekend to stream video of select Rothbury performances.

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