With a four night run at Red Rocks Amphitheatre to commemorate the band’s two decades of joyful music making, The String Cheese Incident said goodbye to their most loyal fan base thanks to a little help from Peak Experience. The first night of the run began on Thursday, August 9. As many fans were still on their way to the event, nearly a third of the venue was left empty, but when the band opened the night with their infamous cover of “Birdland,” expectations were immediately upped for the weekend to come. Later in the set, the crowd was delighted by the youthful presence of bass player Keith Moseley‘s daughter, who graced Cheeseheads with her hoola hooping skills during “Emma’s Dream.” In the second set the band delivered a sturdy rendition of “Comfortably Numb,” and by this time people were ready to get down and dirty. What followed was an epic three-song punch consisting of “Miss Brown’s Tea House,” Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon,” and “M.B.T.H.” Wrapping the set up with an Allman Brother’s classic, “Jessica,” and the Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” Thursday’s show left the crowd in a complete state of ecstasy. At the show’s close, Moseley beamed outward and stated his thanks and love for everyone who made it.
Friday’s sold out show drew in a massive lot scene as folk of all ages were mingling and preparing for the evening’s show. By as early as five o’ clock fans were lined up ready to claim their dancing territory for the night. As I entered the venue for the first time I was completely thunderstruck as smiling faces competed with tales and stories of shows from past tours. Keeping everyone on edge, the band casually approached their instruments at 7:45 p.m., then paused to soak in the energy for a few moments before opening with “On the Road.” The boys stuck to their roots during their first set, running bluegrass jams up and down the mountain with tunes like “Remington Ride,” and spicing it up with their samba-tinged tune, “MLT,” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish.” Danny Sears and Chris Cuzme – trumpet and sax players, respectively, from The Tonal Evangelist – graced the stage, adding their 10% to Friday’s 110% energy show. Later in the evening the band took advantage of their time, playing a non-stop, eight song second set. The highlight of the night came when drummer, Michael Travis moon walked out as a Michael Jackson impersonator, leaving the crowd slightly confused as to why percussionist Jason Hann had taken a seat at the set, not realizing that it was Travis in the wig and sequined glove. With the bass line running, fans almost lost it all together as people called out the hit, “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough,” minutes before it dropped.
On Saturday, after a mix of ninety-five degree heat and sunshine accompanied by a slew of scattered hailstorms, the festivities for evening were once again well under way early in the day. Through the community of fans, Conscious Alliance introduced The Hand family, Natives from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the Whiteman family from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. The families then thanked the crowd for helping them to build a distribution center on the South Dakota reservation. The families performed music and danced as a gesture of thanks and blessing to the fans, then presented the band with a hand-made Lakota Star quilt representing strength and long life. The ceremony ended in a flurry of hugs and thanks as the band launched into their first song of the night, “Little Hands.”
It was obviously keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth‘s night to shine as he busted it big during the band’s energetic and improve-fuelled “!BAM!” Once again the boys were in no mood to waste time as they toiled through one funky groove after another. And Hollingsworth didn’t let up in the least during the soul-structured “Betray the Dark.” The set was closed by the adequately grassed-up version of The Grateful Dead’s “I Know You Rider,” which left fans agreeing that after years of soul-rejuvenating jams, these boys are truly going to be missed. As frontman Bill Nershi shouted his energetic joy into the microphone, the second set commenced with a rowdy “Desert Dawn,” and eased into crowd favorite, “River Trance” (which lasted for over 20 minutes). “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” was introduced as the band devoured the crowd’s attention. Hollingsworth was free of hesitation as he transformed his synth into a voice of its own, launching into the feel-good funk of “Big Shoes,” which progressed into a dancey space jam that left audience members wondering if they were still on the same planet.
As the weekend closed out on Sunday, bluegrass took center stage for the first set. The band performed an all-acoustic, 45-minute-long set with Hollingsworth on accordion, setting the pace midway through with a punching rendition of “Come As You Are.” The band flowed through “Best Feeling,” and “Fuel for the Road” as Keller Williams put his spin on things as The Keller Incident operated one last time. Stretching onward into their third and final set, SCI laid “Restless Wind” to rest. But the same could not be said for the breeze of contentment that chilled peoples’ spines throughout the night. Nobody could resist the pulsating groove of “Rain,” as Michael Kang circulated the jam on mandolin while Hollingsworth stretched the boundaries of his synth effortlessly. The show ended with an all time favorite, “Texas,” and as the String Cheese Incident took one last bow fans in every direction came to the realization that the harmonious and unforgettable weekend would be the last of its kind.