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The String Cheese Incident, 1stBank Center, Broomfield, CO- 12/31

The String Cheese Incident began their fourth consecutive New Year’s Eve run at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, on December 31. Unlike previous years, the band hailed 2016 in reverse, performing a four-hour New Year’s Eve blow-out first, followed by concerts on Jan, 1 and Jan. 2.

On New Year’s Eve, the band delivered 21 songs during a spectacular three-set show that featured spacious jamming and a blend of fan favorites, including “Dirk,” “Joyful Sound,” “Black Clouds,” and two surprising cover songs: Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” and Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.”

SCI hit the stage to welcome the jubilant audience into the New Year before breaking into Michael Kang’s (electric mandolin/violin) “Just One Story,” featuring juicy instrumental runs by Kang and Kyle Hollingsworth on keys. Billy Nershi (guitars/vocals) took over during the outro jam, flatpicking the band’s way into the old-timey Appalachian standard, “Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”

Next up was the Middle Eastern-styled “Bollymunster,” with bassist Keith Moseley (bass/vocals) and the drumming tandem of Michael Travis and Jason Hann locking into a churning dub step groove, slathered with Nershi and Kang’s Phrygian Scale-work.

Moseley then took over the microphone to lead the band into the laidback Caribbean-lilt of “Look at Where We Are,” before the Nershi-led “Song in My Head,” the title track of the band’s 2014 studio release.

“Song in My Head” was the linchpin of set one, a natural fit into the band’s repertoire that rapidly became a fan favorite. Featuring a great hook and a memorable chorus, this joyful country-rock song has the vibe of the SCI standard, “Rhythm of the Road.” For this night’s performance, the colorfully-dressed audience was on their feet, dancing and singing along with the band.

Set one closed with “Cedar Laurels” and Hollingsworth’s a fantastically funky “Dirk.”

Watching SCI perform is always a blast. Entering their third decade, the band has become an authoritative presence on the jamband scene, giving other acts on the scene a serious run for their money.

SCI kicked-off set two with two choice picks from their 2001 studio release Outside Inside: Nershi’s “Search” and Moseley’s “Joyful Sound.” “Search” featured the band’s usual tight interplay; “Joyful Sound” has transmogrified through the years from a mellow tune about “doing what you gotta do” into a bass-driven, heavy-bottom rocker.

Hollingsworth “Can’t Wait Another Day” was next, setting an anticipatory tone for the New Year, followed by Kang’s “Turn This Around.” Nershi led the band through an animated “Jellyfish,” a terrible tale of a Tequila-fueled date-gone-wrong. Mosely had a memory-lapse during the set closer, “Black Clouds,” but the band forged on, encouraged by the empathetic cheers from an audience utterly willing to accept the gaff.

The third set contained all the color and Dionysian spectacle SCI fans could possibly expect on New Year’s Eve: a massive balloon and confetti drop; dancing jellyfish; aerial acrobats; an incredible light show; blimps floating above the audience, and spectacular 3D graphics presented on a giant screen behind the band.

SCI hit the stage sporting white tuxedos and the festivities began when they leapt into Hollingsworth’s “Way Back Home.” The band played to an ecstatic audience during the swirling effects.

The show continued with “All Night Long,” a blistering “I Know You Rider,” Moseley’s plaintive “Sometimes a River,” and Kang’s R&B-flavored “Beautiful.”

Nershi then invited the audience to join the band on a long ride to “Texas,” before SCI closed the set with “Valley of the Jig” from their 2003 studio release, Untying the Knot. “Valley of the Jig” was a phenomenal set-closer, incorporating the band’s extraordinary musicianship and the truly democratic approach of six musicians more than happy to share control of their musical muse.

For the encore, Kang led the band through a tightly played version of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” before finishing off the night by heading back to “Texas.”

SCI took a bow just after 1:30 a.m. on the first official day of 2016, thanked the spent audience for more than 20 years of support, and left the stage with waves and a promise to return soon.

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