It takes a certain courageous spirit — not to mention ridiculous amounts of stamina — to soldier your way through three hours of a complex set list with numerous, unpredictable musical changes. The String Cheese Incident possesses and evinces such a spirit.
The Arlington Theater played host to the band Sunday night, as they performed in Santa Barbara for the first time in well over a decade. “We haven’t been here in a really long time, and we’re excited to be back,” said Michael Kang, one of the several multi-instrumentalists in the band.
In addition to the band’s musical presence, the Arlington was decked out with a dazzlingly intricate light show that appropriately reflected the sophistication of each song. What made the performance even more impressive is the fact that their playing was so relaxed you’d think they just walked onstage and picked up the instruments for a casual jam session —obviously far from the truth.
Over the course of the marathon-light show, the fans were treated to two full sets and special guest Zach Gill of Animal Liberation Orchestra (ALO) and Jack Johnson’s band. Gill shared the stage during both sets for a cover of the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” and Bob Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo.”
Appropriate for the versatility of each band member, all six musicians in the The String Cheese Incident shared the spotlight for the entirety of the show, often trading off in the middle of a song. Michael Travis and Jason Hann provided the rhythmic bedrock with their percussive talents and Keith Moseley gave us a steady feed of bass. Kyle Hollingsworth ruled the stage with his keyboard solos, and Bill Nershi — barefoot for most of the show — and Kang wowed us with their talents on guitar and violin.
Personal favorite songs of the evening include the heart-melting “Farther,” the 12-minute gargantuan “Bumpin’ Reel,” and the enigmatic “45th of November,” although it was clear, considering no one in the theater could be seen sitting down during the three-hour show, that the audience enjoyed the entire performance.
Don’t be surprised to see The String Cheese Incident return to Santa Barbara within the next year or two, especially given the exuberance and loyal following of their area fans and the joyous celebration of music on behalf of the band. If they didn’t have a home on the central coast before the Sunday show, they sure do now.