Last night, the String Cheese Incident played the final night of their three-night run at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, and the seventh and final show of a well-received and quintessential SCI Colorado run. Last weekend the Barefoot Boys played two-nights at Telluride’s The Ride Festival before moving to two-midweek shows at the newly renovated and re-opened Dillon Amphitheater, in Dillion, Colorado, and concluding with three creative masterpieces at Red Rocks. Sunday’s show was the epitome of String Cheese creativity, and even a downpour during a beautiful “Cedar Laurels” couldn’t stop the Red Rocks crowd from boogying the night away.
String Cheese Incident kicked off the first set in old-school style with “The Hobo Song” into “Road Home”, an appropriate way to start in the state that the majority of the band members call home. Michael Kang seemed to be loose and on fire from the get-go, hammering away on mandolin as Bill Nershi cruised through quick bluegrass solos on acoustic guitar. Continuing in the bluegrass theme, bassist Keith Moseley stepped up to the mic, leading the sextet through a breezy take on “Doin’ My Time”. Moseley nailed the lead as Kang and Nershi continued to up the ante, tossing solos back and forth to each other, gradually building up to a smoking peak.
A massive “Restless Wind” was up next, Kang hopping between mandolin and the fiddle as they worked through the ‘Round The Wheel tune. There’s no one in the game that switches it up between instruments as easily and smoothly as Michael Kang. The backbeat that Michael Travis and Jason Hann provide for their bandmates allows for the organic improv that Cheese has mastered over the years to flow effortlessly. String Cheese Incident’s roots run deep in Colorado, and last night’s (never miss a) Sunday show spectacle was a highlight of their entire seven-night run.
“Restless Wind” led way to “Manga”, a recently debuted Jason Hann tune honoring the legendary Cameroonian musician, Andre Manga. The rain started to come down as Travis’ opening drum breakdown for “Cedar Laurels” rang out. Kyle Hollingsworth got things going, spinning through solos on the organ as Nershi switched over to electric guitar and dove headfirst into blissful jam-territory. The rain kept pouring down as String Cheese Incident brought set one to a close with “Eye Know Why”, Hollingsworth leading the way on vocals. Kang and Nershi wailed away on the song’s main theme in perfect synchronicity, picking up the pace in hopes that Mother Nature would ease her rainy wrath—and she did.
With the bad weather in the rearview mirror, String Cheese Incident came back out for the second set, opening with “Vertigo”, another new “Sound Lab” tune debuted earlier this year. Mixing things up with old and new material seems to be working like a charm for the SCI boys, and Red Rocks seemed extremely receptive to their song selection throughout the weekend. Keith Moseley’s drippy opening bass line to “Round The Wheel” became louder, with Hollingsworth joining in, setting the mood for the remainder of the phenomenal Sunday show. Nershi’s opening line (“I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall”) got the crowd singing along, as some of the band members’ kids hula-hooped on the side of the stage. From there, Hollingsworth, Kang and Nershi, settled into a funky groove before appropriately dropping into “100 Year Flood”.
“100 Year Flood” was an on-the-money call by the band, with Nershi and Moseley sharing vocal duties throughout the song, shining brightly. Former Elephant Revival member Bonnie Paine joined the band on “My One And Only”, off of 2017’s Believe. Hollingsworth and Paine’s vocal arrangement was beautiful, setting the mood for the remainder of the evening. As Paine exited the stage, the heavy opening riff for “Howard” washed over the crowd, before Hollingsworth tickled his way into the jumpy groove of the chorus. “Howard” went deep, giving Cheese a chance to end a memorable and remarkable weekend with intricate improvisation.
A smooth segue from “Close Your Eyes” into “Valley Of The Jig” brought set two to a close, before String Cheese Incident welcomed back Paine along with Bill Nershi’s wife, Jillian Nershi, and members of Rising Appalachia, who took care of the shows opening duties earlier in the night, to the stage. The female-heavy guest entourage assisted on vocals for a massive bust out of the widely recorded gospel standard, “I’ll Fly Away”, last played by Cheese on 7/22/2007 at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA.
For a full list of upcoming String Cheese Incident dates, head to the band’s website.
Below, you can view a beautiful photo gallery of SCI’s roaring Sunday night show at Red Rocks via photographer John Verwey.
Setlist: String Cheese Incident | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 7/22/2018
Set One: The Hobo Song, Road Home, Doin’ My Time, Restless Wind, Manga, Cedar Laurels> Eye Know Why
Set Two: Vertigo, Round The Wheel> 100 Year Flood, My One And Only*, Howard, Close Your Eyes> Valley Of The Jig
Encore: I’ll Fly Away^
*= w. Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival)
^= w/ Jillian Nershi, Bonnie Paine, Rising Appalachia members