Among fans of jam bands, a commonly held axiom for those who like Widespread Panic is, “Never miss a Sunday show.” For those who like String Cheese Incident, one that might be adapted is, “Never miss the second show of a three-night run.”
On Sunday night at 1stBank Center, hometown boys, String Cheese Incident, brought the goods in force over the course of three delectable hours. The show featured everything from classic fan faves to off-the-wall covers to semi-traditional bluegrass, all delivered with a perfect blend of verve and playfulness.
Like the band’s Red Rocks run this summer, the second show of the run began with the “Birdland-Rain” combo, though since this show was indoors, it couldn’t be interrupted for three hours by a rain delay. Multi-instrumentalist Michael Kang displayed a deft touch when he switched from trilling electric mandolin runs to furious fiddle fills during a mid-song exploration of “Wheel Hoss,” which the band often delves into during “Birdland.”
The highlight of the first set was a transcendent “Little Hands,” which brought a touch of the spring desert to the cold winter of Denver. Kyle Hollingsworth’s delicate yet intricate piano fills after the final chorus led to a long jam that kicked off with a nimble flat-picked guitar solo from Bill Nershi before Kang took over with a double-time fiddle solo that drove the crowd to a delirious release.
The rest of the first set had solid takes on “Can’t Wait Another Day” and “Outside Inside,” as well as a fiery jam on “Just One Story,” which really seems more like a fierce jam in search of a song than anything else.
After a long setbreak, the band returned with its ode to eluding a zealous police force, “Texas,” a song that usually ends a show. The trademark piercing mandolin riffs that close the song were delayed, and instead the band jammed into a funky take on Bob Marley’s “Kinky Reggae.” After a long jam, the band launched into “It is What It Is,” where Keith Moseley’s bass lines shook the venue while Kang’s singing sustained mandolin playing took the jam to brilliant heights.
Cheese has often indulged in covers of pop songs, and on Sunday, the band treated its fans to an almost straight up cover of Adele’s “I’ll Be Waiting,” which earned a roar of approval from the audience, as did the delivery of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody),” long a fan favorite.
Just as they had the previous night, the band brought the second set full circle by taking a long jam out of “Joyful Sound” to drive back into the finale of the set-opening “Texas,” with Kang delivering the piercing mandolin riffs to close the set.
To start the encore, drummer Michael Travis donned classic a classic ’80s wardrobe during a spot-on cover of Van Halen’s “Jump.” Travis even mimicked David Lee Roth’s iconic split jump. The show closed much like the first night of the run did with a nod toward the band’s bluegrass roots on an instrumental version of “Whiskey Before Breakfast,” dominated by Kang’s fiddle riffs.
Birdland, Rain, Black and White, Little Hands, Can’t Wait Another Day, Black Market, Outside Inside, Just One Story
Texas-> Kinky Reggae -> It is What It Is, I’ll Be Waiting, Rhythm of the Road, This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody), Joyful Sound-> Texas, E: Jump, Whiskey Before Breakfast