Kyle Hollingsworth Band with Michael Kang at Hodi’s Half Note

String Cheese Incident and their members have a long and storied history with Summer Camp. The original Summer Sessions lineup that inspired the festival included SCI. I saw Michael Kang with Panjea at the fest in 2006 and Kyle Hollingsworth Band made the trip to Illinois in 2010. This year Kyle came to host a gathering for home brewers and sat in with moe. for Happy Hour Hero. So heading out to see KHB unofficially kick off the upcoming String Cheese tour seemed like a good idea.

The weather was nice and Amy and I rode our bikes down to Old Town for some Kyle infused goodness. We had been waiting for well over a month for this show. It was the official kickoff of Kyle’s Hop On Tour 2011, which is a series of events being held throughout String Cheese Incident’s upcoming run and culminating with a Kyle’s Brew Fest in Chicago. At Hodi’s Kyle brought his collaboration with Odell’s Brewery entitled Thrilla In Vanilla, which was a smoky but sweet vanilla porter.  I found it to be quite clean and refreshing.

When we finally got inside Roster McCabe was finishing up their opening set. They were like thrash jam juxtaposed against the harmonious vocals of Alex Steele. Roster McCabe hails from the frozen tundra of Minnesota. They are a diverse mix of reggae, funk and rock. Performing as a groove-oriented band with strong musicianship they focus on the audience by bringing a strong energy to their live experience. I was impressed with their sound and felt like they were a great choice for the opening slot.

Kyle Hollingsworth Band is perhaps my favorite String Cheese side project and the addition of Michael Kang is like having your cake and eating it too. Kyle came out sans Kang and said to Watts, Sayers, and Schwindt, “We’re just gonna jam,” before ripping into a funky tune that quickly broke into I Can’t Win. Here is the rest of the setlist from Archive.

SET I:  I Can’t Win, Latin Jam, Let’s Go Outside, Stay Through, Funk Jam, Boo Boo’s Pik-A-Nik

SET II: Rosie>Bonified Lovin’, Soul Revolution, Piece Of Mine, New Song?, Ordinary, The Way That It Goes

ENCORE: Ramble On, I Can’t Win

(Setlist may be incorrect or incomplete)

Thanks to Eric Wilkens for posting the recoding which you can listen to HERE.

Kang came out for the Latin Jam and quickly showed the audience why he is the gravy on the mashed potatoes that is Kyle Hollingsworth Band.  I got the lowdown that with the SCI tour coming up Kang really didn’t have much time to practice with Kyle. It didn’t matter. He jumped right in with both feet and nailed it.  Bringing out a couple of SCI songs this show did a lot to invigorate the crowd. Boo Boo’s Pik-A-Nik was a blast but the highlight of the first set was the transcendental jamming that showed the extreme musical prowess of everyone on stage. The Motet rhythm section of Dave Watts and Garrett Sayers in combination with Dan Schwindt, Kyle and Kang was just a sight to behold.

The second set began with an explosion when Kyle ripped up his new tune Rosie into Chromeo’s Bonified Lovin’. It was perhaps the high point of the show but their was so much more music to see. Kang busted out some more lyrics on Soul Revolution. Kang’s singing is an acquired taste but given my love of Cheese he hits the notes and his vocal duties with KHB were spot on. Ordinary, which had a more electro-pop feel in the recently released recording, had a harder edge with a snappier beat. They end the set with a nice Way That It Goes.

The encore of Led Zeppelin’s Ramble On was the unexpected treat of the evening. Musically they just nailed it, and I was on Cloud 9 at this point. They bookended the show with I Can’t Win to wrap up the show. It was a great concert and a great way to start the Hop On Tour. With String Cheese Incident about to jump on the road for their first extended tour since their return from hiatus this was a great way to get Kyle and Kang’s creative juices flowing.

KHB with Kang performing Let\’s Go Outside

KHB with Kang Performing Ramble On