The String Cheese Incident had no shortage of theatrics during the finale of its three night Winter Carnival at the 1stBank Center. As the second set got under way Saturday, a path was cut through the sweaty, glitter-drenched crowd. And once the sextet launched into a rollicking “Way Back Home,” winter go-go dancers popped up on moveable scaffolding, bungee acrobats flipped through the air and aerial dancers tumbled above the band. Celebrating the end of winter, confetti fluttered through the room and the band stretched out “Way Back Home” across 20 minutes of improvisation.
First set highlights included a version of Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” that brought openers Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk on stage. For the funk hit, Dumpstaphunk’s Tony Hall relieved Keith Moseley from bass duties and spanked out thick, funky lines. The band bounced into the reggae upstrokes of “Shantytown” and took the island number on a jamtronic ride that built into a colorful techno crescendo. “Valley of the Jig” closed out the first frame and ignited a Celtic dance party as fans rejoiced at the return of this instrumental rager.
Photos, below, from Day 2.
A cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” brought forth a 1stBank singalong and the band wandered into a hip-swaying ska jam. The fan favorite “Desert Dawn” capped off the six-song second set, and after an evening replete with Michael Jackson teases, Cheese found their way out of their “Black Clouds” encore and into the King of Pop’s “Wanna Be Starting Somethin’.” Doing what the Colorado boys do best, bluegrass morphed into dance-pop before the picking resumed and Michael Kang ripped a melodic mandolin solo to finish the weekend.
Cheese Heads were not ready for the party to stop as Robert Palmer’s “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley” came over the PA and a massive inflatable turkey continued to boogie atop the sold out crowd. The celebratory final night of Winter Carnival, now a long standing Cheese tradition, should more than tie fans over until this summer’s slim touring schedule, and forecasts an optimistic future for Colorado’s favorite jam band.
Nick Chambers is a Denver-based writer and a new contributor to Reverb.
John DiTirro is a Denver-based photographer and a Digital Ad Trafficker at The Denver Post. Check out his website.