The Infamous Stringdusters made their headlining debut at Denver’s Mission Ballroom for a sold-out Saturday night throwdown with Trout Steak Revival.
The show marked the Grammy Award-winning bluegrass quintet’s first headlining performance at the new Denver venue, marking their grand return since their initial support of the String Cheese Incident’s debut back in November.
Bringing back the Rocky Mountain bluegrass love, The Infamous Stringdusters welcomed the String Cheese Incident’s Jason Hann and Michael Travis, treating fans to a special musical collaboration-filled first show of 2020 ahead of their Future Is Now 2020 tour.
Kicking off the sold-out Saturday night was Denver indie-folk quartet Trout Steak Revival. Taking the stage at 8 p.m., the four-piece — comprised of fiddler Bevin Foley, bassist Casey Houlihan, dobro player and guitarist Will Koster, and banjo player Travis McNamara — warmed up the packed Mission Ballroom with an hour-long set for their first show of the new year. The four members took turns throughout the set progressing the folk-Americana melodies into peaked fast-pickin’, bluegrass dance staples, and ended their set with their original “Last Chance”.
Also starting off their first set of 2020 at the venue, The Infamous Stringdusters went into their newer “Carry Me Away” and “Peace Of Mind”, before going into a cover of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man”. Guitarist Andy Falco started into the opening to their newly released “Long Time Going”, taking the bit on a bluegrass ride for banjo player Chris Pandolfi to slip the band into their lyrical 2016 “Gravity”. A quick slow down of the melody lead the way for the eased transition into a cover of Phish’s “Possum”, sending a giant wave of energy out into the crowd. The five-piece ended the first set’s musical journey with a take around “Cloud Valley”, “Long Lonesome Day” and “Hillbillies”, bassist Travis Book, fiddler Jeremy Garrett, dobro player Andy Hall, Pandolfi and Falco all playing off each other for a grand peaked ending.
Returning to the stage just short of 11 p.m., The Infamous Stringdusters jumped right into welcoming the String Cheese Incident’s percussionist Jason Hann and drummer Michael Travis for the whole second set for some added rhythm dimensions to the bluegrass ensemble.
The now seven-piece got mile high in their band’s original “Colorado”, making fit for the night’s setlist for their first Colorado play since November. After a run through of “Rise Sun” and “Planets”, the band went back to its traditional roots with a banjo and fiddle instrumental takeover in Stephen Foster’s “Angelina Baker”. An initial slower pace transitioned next into “Truth And Love”, Travis picking up the pace of the backbeat to bring the tune to a quick jam exploration and lead into “Black Elk”. Hann took the bit under his control with an extended percussion breakdown, leading everyone to a sharp close of the five-song sequence. “All The Same” and “Wake The Dead” rounded up the second set, before a String Cheese Incident takeover saw a “Restless Wind” come blowing into the night’s set. Garrett took leads on the collaborative song with a fiddle melody takeover, landing the band into a final set’s close of “BollyMunster” to finish off November’s first set closer when Hall and Pandolfi joined Hann and Travis onstage during the String Cheese Incident’s Mission Ballroom debut show.
An encore saw The Infamous Stringdusters pick through a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” to ensure the sold-out crowd left the chilly Saturday evening with some bluegrass boogey to carry them through until their next Colorado return in March.
Audio of the show is available courtesy of The Infamous Stringdusters via taper Rob O’ Brien.
The Infamous Stringdusters | Mission Ballroom | Denver, CO | 1/11/20
[Audio: Infamous Stringdusters]
The Infamous Stringdusters will start on their 21-dated The Future Is Now 2020 tour on January 16th at Ashland, OR’s Ashland Armory and Portland’s Crystal Ballroom on January 17th. The five-piece have already announced their upcoming performances at this year’s Rooster Walk, Dark Star Jubilee, Charm City Bluegrass Festival, Blue Ox Music Festival, and Hog Farm Hangout. For a full list of upcoming show dates, head to the band’s website.
Setlist: The Infamous Stringdusters | Mission Ballroom | Denver, CO | 1/11/2019 | Photos: Colin McKinley
Set One: Carry Me Away, Peace Of Mind, Sharp Dressed Man#, Long Time Going > Gravity > Possum&, Cloud Valley, Long Lonesome Day > Hillbillies
Set Two: Colorado, Rise Sun, Planets > Angelina Baker% > Truth And Love > Black Elk (percussion), All The Same, Wake The Dead, Restless Wind
Encore: Shakedown Street*
# ZZ Top cover
& Phish cover
% Stephen Foster cover
*Grateful Dead cover