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Published: 2012/07/20
by Charlie Englar

The String Cheese Incident, Red Rocks, Morrison, CO – 7/5-7

The American Indian tradition of Rain Dance is one that has been passed down from generation to generation, and is still practiced by some today. Even those who are not of American Indian descent, in their own ways and forms, hope and pray for rain in years of drought and wildfires.

It has been such a year in Colorado and throughout the entire American Southwest, but on a weekend when Colorado’s favorite musical and spiritual sons graced the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, the heavens opened up and provided moisture the likes of which were needed in the most desperate of ways.

The String Cheese Incident last played Morrison, CO in 2010, not long after they had been on a somewhat extended hiatus. The vibe that year was one of overall joy at the simple fact that Cheese was back. In this the year of 2012, a time period in which Cheese did their first extended tour not too long ago and has been playing more regularly, the vibe was one of ‘how hard are they going to throw down?’ and, ‘I can’t wait to hear how locked in their playing is and how smooth the transitions are.’

Thursday, July 5

Leaving Fort Collins early Thursday evening for Red Rocks I was hit with the first of what would be many monsoonal downpours. Before I was even able to get to Interstate 25 I hit a log jam of vehicles on the on-ramp who were at a complete standstill due to the fact that the cars on the Interstate were at a complete standstill due to the fact that you couldn’t see two feet in front of your car… Needless to say the rain let up, I picked up a friend in Loveland and hauled ass the 65 or so miles to Morrison, making it into the venue – after a ridiculously cluster-mess of a line coming in from the Lower South lots – just in time to catch guitarist Billy Nerhi’s shredder of a solo in the opening song “Sometimes A River” (the liquid-themed tunes would be prevalent for the duration of the weekend). The Kyle Hollingsworth tune “Lost” followed “River” and allowed for a superb smooth and flowing pluckiness/piano jam between Nershi and Hollingsworth, before Michael Kang jumped with the loud speak of his electric mandolin. The first set was closed out with the crowd favorite “Colorado Bluebird Sky,” bluegrass up-tempo and all.

Early in the second set the boys pulled a blistering bombshell of a “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” > “Chameleon” > “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” sandwich. The second set also provided an absolute masterful seven minute drum solo/African dance party courtesy of Michael Travis and Jason Hann. As Hann was slapping his bongos like a man possessed, the rest of the band returned to the stage and segued into a seamless twelve minute “Desert Dawn.” The rocking “Outside And Inside” was chosen for the encore and sent the crowd home with appetites fully wetted for the rest of the weekend.

While it could be debated that, overall, Thursday was the slowest tempo-ed of the three days, one thing can be said for certain; I walked out of Red Rocks after night one floored by how well the transitions went and the bountiful musical banter between the band mates.

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