The String Cheese Incident, Red Rocks, Morrison, CO – 7/5-7
Saturday, July 7
Saturday night was the dance party. Yes, the previous two nights certainly had their moments of “cheesy-ness”, but this the third night would be non-stop. Rain continued to fall early on and there was a half hour rain delay to start the show. But after what was dealt with the night before, this was child’s play.
Starting around 8:30pm under light rain, the band choose to pull out a 13 minute plus version of “Rollover,” painting that happy, dreamy vibe all over the Rocks. Midway through the first set Hollingsworth pulled out another one of his dirty, rough-around-the-edges tunes; “Piece Of Mine.” The first set ended with a freak show of a dance party; “Bolly Munster>Rollover”. Mixing Irish Jig music with what can only be described as Arabian drum beats, Cheese morphed into what I’m going to dub as an electronic Irish/Arabian dance party, and in the process used “Bolly Munster” to get the crowd grooving and feeling right. Closing the first set with the set opener, the band took this second half of “Rollover” and sent the kids to the moon. Kang and his high-pitched fiddle was fueled by the hard backbeat of Travis and Hann. Hollingworth once again took the reins, this time turning his keyboards into a flying spaceship of a weapon, making noises and sounds the like of which have not been heard by many. Hollingsworth then led the band into a cohesive, atmospheric, all-together-now jam, before the group eventually went into the oh-so-familiar chorus and closed it out.
If the first set of the final night put the crowd in the mood, then second set sent them over the top. Starting the party RIGHT away, the band opened the set with the banging disco dance number “Rosie,” which led into, I shit you not, a one and half minute cover of LMAFO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” lyrics and all. As people looked at each other with bewildered joy, and Cheese, no joke, covered it with absurd perfection, the collective vibe of “are they really doing this!?” filled the air. The group then swooped back into “Rosie” and confirmed they were going to finish this 3 night run with balls and attitude.
A few songs later a 20 minute “Land’s End” made an appearance. Kang’s mandolin sliced the air and that most circular poetic of riffs made its way around the place, and the band eventually uped the tempo and allowed for Nershi to show off his acoustic plucking skills, trading rips with Kang all the while.
Now, the final portion of the night was literally a six song behemoth of funness. The rollicking “On The Road” pushed forward with the power and strength of a locomotive. “Elvis’ Wild Ride” came before the crowd favorite “Joyful Sound”, which produced an opening electronic beat seeming to be a small and subtle tribute to the Beastie Boys, with the hard bass and familiar opening riff leading into Mosley’s distinct and joyous singing. “Joyful Sound” then led into a 5 minute drum session and then a set closing “Shine”. The encore of “Johnny Cash” not only delighted the very hard core of Cheese fans, but it also gave every person in the house a chance to kick up some dust on a blistering bluegrass number.
Saturday night, and the weekend in general, was a beautiful example of why String Cheese is so exciting. Funk, rock, bluegrass, jazz, and electronica all come from this band, and it’s that show of diversity and ability to produce all those sounds that makes it so special. On a weekend when the rain finally fell in full force all along the Front Range of Colorado, the String Cheese Incident came home in the most epic of ways, sharing in delight, along with the crowd, at both a band locked in, and the beauty of creating a Rain Dance together.