With all the gallantry and smackdabbery of Christmas behind us it was time to get down at the first of three nights with The String Cheese Incident in The 1stBank Center. It has been fifteen years since SCI has played a New Year’s Eve show in Colorado; this run marks the first time ever that they are ringing in the New Year on the Front Range. The first night saw a continuation of their momentum from the summer tour. They put a huge effort into practicing prior to these runs and it showed when they hit the stage.
I took the opportunity to hop on the Quixote’s bus. At $24 after fees it seemed a bit expensive, but how can you put a price on a safe ride. I arrived and quickly made my way inside. With temperatures in the single digits, it didn’t make much sense to hang out in the Lot. Inside, the kids adorned in capes and glittery accoutrement swooped about in anticipation of the night’s show. The first of a three-night run usually calls for a lighter turnout, and at the height of the evening the floor was full, but there was still plenty of seats available throughout the venue. They opened with a tasty “Round The Wheel.”
Set One: Round The Wheel, Sometimes A River, Yo Sé, So Far From Home, Born On The Wrong Planet, Betray The Dark, Close Your Eye > Black Clouds
Set Two: Rollover > Out On The Road, Give Me The Love, Eye Know Why, Jellyfish > Kashmir, Rivertrance, Sirens > Rollover
Encore: Time Alive, Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms
String Cheese continued with a floating rendition of “Sometimes A River” before the show exploded with an excellent “Yo Sé.” Kyle Hollingsworth’s fingers danced on the keys and showcased his Latin flair. Jason Hahn too stepped into the spotlight blasting away on the bongos. Billy Nershi took the helm on the rockabilly bluegrass number “So Far From Home,” before the highlight of the first set came in the form of “Born On The Wrong Planet.” SCI chilled out the crowd with a funky and brooding “Betray The Dark.” They closed the set with a one two punch “Close Your Eye” into a massive “Black Clouds.” Other than the set stretching out a bit, it was fairly standard, with somewhat restrained playing. The second set would be their chance to really let loose.
They opened with an unfinished “Rollover,” that many fans assumed would come on New Year’s Eve. String Cheese transitioned smoothly into an extended rendition of “Out On The Road,” again showcasing Kyle’s dirty organ tricks. Michael Kang’s vocals gave a gentle feel to “Give Me The Love.” Kyle busted out one of his tunes with “Eye Know Why.” The crowd was slightly stunned with the intro to “Jellyfish,” again thinking this would come later in the run. However, Nershi found himself fumbling with the lyrics before restarting the song and settling back in nicely. The audience laughed it off, as this song saw some of the best jamming of the night before they ripped into Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Kang again took the microphone and belted out this song intensely. It was a quick but solid version.
Cheese brought a bit of that old-fashioned dance party whomp with “Rivertrance,” but again it was tasteful and I found myself focusing on Kang’s fiddle anyway. They again ended the set big with “Sirens” into “Rollover Reprise.” The band seemed to be gushing a bit over the crowd, having mentioned several times throughout the night how happy they were to be in Colorado for New Year’s. They encored with a Travis-fronted song entitled “Time Alive,” that came off as rock opera-esque by the end. They followed up that with a short take on the bluegrass standard “Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.” It was a solid start to the three-night run with the second set coming out on top. They got more comfortable as the night progressed and it manifested itself in the interplay between the musicians. With two more nights to go it would be interesting to see if they can keep up this pace.
Kashmir Video – http://youtu.be/-HUCymKySVM