Over the weekend, String Cheese Incident took to Princeton, British Columbia for their take-over of Element Music Festival. The festival hosted at Snug Lake Amphitheatre was highly anticipated, tapping Oteil Burbridge as Artist-As-Large in addition to boasting six sets by the host band, the long-awaited reunion of Garaj Mahal, two sets by Steve Kimock & Friends, and performances by Genetics, Five Alarm Funk, and more. North of the American border, this year, Element made it on the map, with Americans and Canadians alike flocking to the intimate Canadian festival from August 3rd through 6th. As previously noted in a Live For Live Music interview with String Cheese’s own Michael Kang, Element Music Festival was an exciting new venture for the band. The Colorado-born group had not made it north of the United States border since the now-defunct Pemberton Festival, and Cheese had high hopes for shaping the event into one of its many Cheese-centric festival experiences like Electric Forest and Hulaween.
As Kang noted, “For us, it’s definitely like charting new territory. It’s going to be interesting going back. There are definitely a lot of new fans, people who have never heard of us. . . . We put a lot of energy into wanting to have these experiences that people can come to and be like, “All right! I get it!” This is what SCI wants to do as a concert-type experience. [Events like Electric Forest, Hulaween, or Horning’s Hideout] were very intentionally curated in the way we wanted them to be done. . . . [Element Music Festival is] gonna be something that we can hopefully put into our repertoire and continue to do with our family up there.”
String Cheese Incident more than delivered on their promise on curating a spectacular festival experience, one that hopefully continues to develop a community and grow in years to come. String Cheese’s own six sets saw the band in proper form and also featured sit-ins from Burbridge and Fareed Haque of Garaj Mahal, an acclaimed guitarist who has previously performed with Cheese’s Jason Hann as a rotating member of his side project Rhythmatronix, across the weekend.
However, String Cheese’s own performances were by no means the only exceptional musical moments of the weekend. After breaking up following their New Year’s Eve run welcoming in 2011, the wildly diverse jazz-fusion quartet Garaj Mahal returned to the stage after a near-seven year hiatus. Other highlights of the weekend included an impromptu daytime bass set from Burbridge, Kai Eckhardt, and Bobby Vega and an intimate, late-night Grateful Dead-inspired set from Steve Kimock & Friends, which featured Steve Kimock, Burbridge, Vega, Jeff Chimenti, and Kimock’s son, John Kimock. The late-night Steve Kimock & Friends set also saw Michael Kang sit-in during a thirty-minute rendition of “Birdsong,” with the set taking place in a barn holding around 300 people under the light of the full moon.
You can take a listen to the audio from String Cheese Incident’s six sets at Element Music Festival below, courtesy of Eytan Bernet. Also, don’t forget to check out photos from Jake Sherman of this magical weekend.
Setlist: String Cheese Incident | Element Music Festival | Snug Lake Amphitheatre | Princeton, BC | 8/4/2017
Set One: Looking Glass > Rhum N’ Zouc, Purple Strains, 45th Of November, Sweet Spot, Close Your Eyes > Believe
Set Two: Desert Dawn, Joyful Sound > Rumble, Nothing But Flowers, Pack It Up, One Step Closer, It Is What It Is > BollyMunster
Encore: Quinn, The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
Setlist: String Cheese Incident | Element Music Festival | Snug Lake Amphitheatre | Princeton, BC | 8/5/2017
Set One: Dirk, Cedar Laurels, How Mountain Girls Can Love, Blue Bossa, Can’t Wait Another Day > Best Feeling > Valley Of The Jig
Set Two: Lester Poem > Shantytown, Black And White > IIWII Reprise, Impressions* > Drums, Get Tight, Let’s Go Outside
Encore: I Know You Rider
* featuring Oteil Burbridge & Fareed Haque
Setlist: String Cheese Incident | Element Music Festival | Snug Lake Amphitheatre | Princeton, BC | 8/6/2017
Set One: I Saw The Light, Panama Red, Moonflower, Betray The Dark, Suntan, Wake Up > Black Clouds, Deal
Set Two: Beautiful, Sand Dollar > Drums > Sirens, Give Me The Love, Way Back Home > Restless Wind
Encore: Don’t Let Go*, Good Times Around The Bend
* featuring Oteil Burbridge