After Friday’s drenching deluge, fans of the String Cheese Incident who returned for the final show in a three-night run at Red Rocks could have been forgiven for wishing a for a little sunshine. The band acknowledged the weather from the stage, saying that they weren’t going to play any “rain songs,” as they had on Friday in tempting fate. Mother nature, however, had other ideas, as a drizzle began early in the first set and kept up for the rest of the show, lending a rather British, fine-day feel to the event.
Water pooled in places around the stage, and stagehands draped instruments and effects pedals with towels or covers at various times to keep them dry when they weren’t being used for a song. Kyle Hollingsworth’s keyboards had towels covering the control panels as well.
Perhaps it was the weather, but the show seemed to get off to an uneven start. The opener, “Rollover,” had some strong jamming to get things going, with Michael Kang’s electric mandolin alternating between moody, meandering lines and fiery, furious riffing.
From there however, the energy seemed to dip. “Look at Where We Are” had a relaxed, mellow groove that might have gone over better on a sunny day, instead of a rainy one where people really wanted to dance up a storm.
Bill Nershi picked up the pace on the rocking “Las Vegas,” which Moseley introduced by saying, “Billy, you have a story to tell, don’t you?” The lyrics and singing style of the tune seemed to nod to old Cheese faves like “Jellyfish” and “Texas,” but the song itself, with Kang and Nershi both playing electric guitar, had a raving rocker groove.
Much of Saturday’s show focused on the newer, trancier, rave-type material the band has written since moving from its bluegrass-oriented roots. The instrumental “Bollymunster” is another example of the band taking Celtic fiddle tunes and playing them over electronic grooves. Kang’s fiddle had a haunting feel as he riffed over Jason Hann’s percussion grooves.
For the final set of the run, Cheese took its fans on a journey, starting first with the club-type tune “Rosie” sandwiched around LMFAO’s club hit “Party Rock Anthem,” which they delivered with aplomb and was a first play for the group. The band finally took a turn toward bluegrass with the instrumental “Daryl,” on which Kang’s fiddle and Nershi’s acoustic guitar playing drove the crowd to an ever-heightened frenzy.
On another debut cover, Sting’s “Love is the 7th Wave,” Travis and percussionist Hann switched kits, with Travis playing the percussion set and singing the lead vocal line.
While the set had been strong to that point, it had felt almost as if the band members were holding back ever slightly. When they reached for a transcendent “Lands End,” everything came together. Kang started it with a moody riff on the main melody, teasing the crowd with what was to come before launching into the main riff. On the mid-song jam, Nershi’s acoustic guitar playing created a haunting, swirling crash of chords that seemed to have element’s of U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name” while a disco ball created spinning lights off the stage.
As the final notes of the set-closing “On the Road” rang clear, a cannonball of confetti blew out over the audience and stage, covering the stage and some of the instruments with bits of paper. To start the encore, Nershi played an acoustic “Elvis’ Wild Ride” while Travis knelt in front of him and tapped out percussion grooves on Nershi’s guitar, a-la “Walk of the Earth.” Before launching into the ever-popular groove of “Joyful Sound,” the band set the pace with a few bars of “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”
Set 1: Rollover > Colliding, Drive, Look At Where We Are, Piece of Mine, Las Vegas, Bollymunster > Rollover
Set 2: Rosie > Party Rock Anthem1 > Rosie, Black and White > Daryl, Love is the 7th Wave2 > Land’s End > On The Road
Encore: Elvis’s Wild Ride, Joyful Sound > Drums > Shine
Encore 2: Johnny Cash