The String Cheese Incident wrapped up a three-night Halloween run at Austin’s famed Stubb’s BBQ with a little help their friends on Saturday. Singer Nicki Bluhm, guitarist Scott Law, and The Terrapin Family Band’s Ross James—who all performed at the nearby Day of the Deadhead Festival that afternoon—kept the Grateful Dead theme going when they joined SCI for encore renditions of “Deal” and Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light”. The collaboration punctuated a jam-packed night of music that featured fan-favorites including “Black Clouds,” “Search,” “Tinder Box”, “Cedar Laurels”, “Rollover”, and a highly anticipated “Texas” that had eluded the setlist during the previous nights.
The String Cheese Incident – “Black Clouds” – 11/2/2019 [Partial]
[Video: Brian Towns]
The String Cheese Incident – “Texas” – 11/2/2019
[Video: Brian Towns]
While the final encore marked the only sit-in of the weekend, it was far from the only surprise. The first one came early Thursday night, when SCI nodded to Halloween with the first “Werewolves of London” cover of their 25-year career. The Warren Zevon classic was followed by two songs that have gotten the SCI Sound Lab treatment in recent years—longtime live staple “Boo Boo’s Pik-a-Nik” and the Keith Moseley-led newbie “Gone Crooked”. A deep dive into “Way Back Home” then gave way to “Bollymunster” before the trusty jam vehicle “Desert Dawn” closed out the set.
Set two started strong with a “Let’s Go Outside” that resonated with the thoroughly costumed crowd, which had braved near freezing temperatures to catch the band at the outdoor amphitheater (it was an unseasonably cold weekend in Central Texas). Of course, a little cold weather wasn’t going to slow down a band that cut its teeth on the ski slopes of Colorado, and The String Cheese Incident wrapped up the set with one of the biggest jams of the weekend when they merged “Outside and Inside” with John Coltrane’s cerebral jazz odyssey “Impressions” and their Grateful Dead-inspired 2018 single, “The Big Reveal”.
However, it was the mid-point of the run that brought some much needed heat to Austin. The three+ hour (not including set break) Friday night installment got started with a solid “One Step Closer”, which melted into a supremely groovy take on early favorite “Born of the Wrong Planet.” Keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth then put on his dad rock hat for the fatherhood-inspired “Can’t Wait Another Day”, which has become a fixture in the band’s shows since its 2012 debut. The tune was followed by “The Woods”, a cut from the late Tom Petty’s beloved Wildflowers album that was first played by SCI in Oakland last month. The set then came to an end with “Water”, an extended “It Is What It Is”, and a rip-roaring “Can’t Stop Now” that marked one of the weekend’s only forays into bluegrass territory.
But it was Friday’s second set that left the costume-clad revelers—you didn’t think SCI fans were only going to dress up on Halloween Day, did you?—at Stubb’s BBQ grinning from ear to ear. Things took a turn for the weird early when the band wedged a “2001” segment into the set-opening “Out On The Road”. That move may have caught the crowd off guard, but the pleasant surprise was outdone just a few minutes later when SCI switched gears into Thelonious Monk’s 1947 masterpiece, “Well You Needn’t”, which hadn’t been played by the group since November 3, 2001. The bust-out was followed by a “Black and White” that featured elements of Dee-Lite’s “Groove Is In the Heart” before segueing into a show-stopping cover of Paul Simon’s worldbeat hit “Late In The Evening”, which gave drummers Michael Travis and Jason Hann plenty of room to shine. After taking a second regroup, the nearly two hour second set continued with an extra smooth “Until The Music’s Over”, which was followed by a take on the recent Sound Lab single “Into the Blue”, a tune that first began appearing on setlists earlier this year. The jams continued with a jammed out a pair of staples, as “Jellyfish” and “Rosie” ended the monster set with a bang. Finally, Bill Nershi, Michael Kang, Hollingsworth, Moseley, Travis and Hann returned to the stage for an encore cover of the R&B standard—and Jerry Garcia Band favorite—”Don’t Let Go”.
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SCI continues its 25th-anniversary tour with a three-night runs at Chicago, IL’s Auditorium Theatre on November 7th-9th. The band will perform their final concerts of 2019 at Denver, CO’s new Mission Ballroom on Friday and Saturday, November 29th and 30th.
For ticketing and more information, head to The String Cheese Incident’s website.
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | Stubb’s BBQ | Austin, TX | 10/31/2019
Set One: Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance, Lost > Werewolves Of London > Boo Boo’s Pik-A-Nik, Gone Crooked, Way Back Home > BollyMunster, Desert Dawn
Set Two: Let’s Go Outside, Rhythm Of The Road > Beautiful, Look At Where We Are, Outside and Inside > Impressions > The Big Reveal
Encore: This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), How Mountain Girls Can Love
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | Stubb’s BBQ | Austin, TX | 11/1/2019
Set One: One Step Closer, Born on the Wrong Planet > Can’t Wait Another Day > The Woods, Water, It Is What It Is > Can’t Stop Now
Set Two: On the Road > 2001 (Also Sprach Zarathustra) > On The Road > Well You Needn’t* > Black and White > Groove Is In The Heart > Black And White > Late in the Evening > Full Band Percussion > Late in the Evening, Until the Music’s Over, Into the Blue > Jellyfish > Rosie
Encore: Don’t Let Go
* Thelonius Monk cover, LTP 11-03-01
Setlist: The String Cheese Incident | Stubb’s BBQ | Austin, TX | 11/2/2019
Set One: Black Clouds, Got What He Wanted > Search > Falling Through The Cracks, Pack It Up, Texas > Tinder Box
Set Two: All We Got, Cedar Laurels > So Far From Home, Midnight Moonlight, Hi Ho No Show, Vertigo > Rollover
Encore: Deal *, I Saw The Light *
* = w/ Nicki Bluhm, Scott Law Guitar, Ross James