String Cheese Incident on New Year's Eve 2012 (photos, review) - Reverb

String Cheese Incident at the 1stBank Center, New Year’s Eve 2012 (photos, review)

Sixteen years proved worth the wait.

In the band’s first Colorado New Year’s show since 1996, hometown boys, String Cheese Incident, played their best show of the year, firing on all cylinders at the 1stBank Center over the course of three brilliant sets.

Photos and review of String Cheese Incident’s show on Dec. 29.
Photos and review of String Cheese Incident’s show on Dec. 30.

It’s all too often true that New Year’s shows are, from a musical perspective, a letdown, as the spectacle of it all overshadows the performance and the energy that drives bands to reach deep and find that zone is missing. After all, why really reach far when many in the audience are probably not in a condition to appreciate it? Maybe it was the hometown thing, but String Cheese came out and from practically the first note was determined to put on a memorable show.

The opening “Mouna Bowa” had Michael Kang finding trancey fiddle grooves early, and he used a delay to great effect. Kang and Bill Nershi were clearly having a good time from the get go, with both sporting big smiles.

On “Can’t Stop Now,” Kang drove the song-ending jam to a fiery, frenetic finish with a furious solo on his electric mandolin. The band then slowed things down on a tender “Struggling Angel,” a song they wrote for a friend of the band who died early in 2012.

For the first set closer “Restless Wind,” Kyle Hollingsworth and Kang drove the jam, first with Kang’s spacey fiddle runs on a slower jam out of the second chorus, and then with Hollingsworth’s rolling piano fills, which sped up the jam and led to the final chorus.

If anyone thought the 40-minute setbreak would slow things down again, they were delightfully disappointed. A silky smooth “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” highlighted Nershi’s acoustic playing, while a jam led into the classic bluegrass tune “How Mountain Girls Can Love.”

The band really took flight on “Best Feeling.” Till then, the jamming had been tight and focused, but here they started slowly, with Kang using a Jerry Garcia-like auto wah during some exploratory fills and Nershi and Hollingsworth finding space around it before they locked in and drove the jam to dizzying heights.

As they had the prior two nights, Cheese broke out a new cover, this time turning to Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” before closing the second set with a furious “Rosie.” Before leaving the stage, Hollingsworth reminded the crowd to get their wristbands out for the “intergalactic journey to 2013.”

The band returned to the stage at approximately 11:40, opening the final set of 2012 with “Let’s Go Outside.” After a short jam, Kang spun out the familiar opening riff to “Land’s End,” which would be the final song of 2012. As the jam progressed, dancers on stilts with blue lights appeared on the floor while guardians in white who looked like they were on horses stood sentry on each staircase. Behind the soundboard, Marie Antoinette danced on stilts as angels descended from the ceiling toward the stage, where they birthed the New Year from a ball. The wristbands must have been remote controlled, because they flashed either white, green or red as the clock turned on 2013, and at other times during the rest of the show were synchronized with parts of songs.

The band was so involved with the jam that they missed the actual turning of the year, as the frenetic “Glory Chords Jam” rung in the New Year. It was about 12:08 a.m. when the song reached a crashing crescendo and Nershi counted off “10, 9, 8…” while a clock on the light display behind the band kept time with them, finally turning on 2013.

As a first song of 2013, the band launched into Nershi’s ode to his adopted home state, “Colorado Bluebird Sky,” which tells the tale of his coming to Colorado for the first time and finding “mountains rising to the sky on every side of me.” Kang and Nershi traded tight, bluegrass-oriented solos early in the song, but after the final chorus, the duo launched into an exploratory jam that wound into the trancey “Bumpin’ Reel.” Kang again used delay on his fiddle to layer waves of sound throughout the venue.

Sandwiched into a “Desert Dawn” that was dominated by crazy synth sounds from Hollingsworth was another first-time cover, Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” with Kang doing his able best to rock Joe Perry’s classic guitar riffs.

On the encore, things turned full circle, as out of a jam on “Bolly Munster” Nershi led the band into the finale of “Colorado Bluebird Sky,” leaving the fans with a hopeful take on 2013.

Setlist

Set 1
Mouna Bowa, Shine, Can’t Stop Now, Song In My Head, Struggling Angel, Collliding, Restless Wind

Set 2
Miss Brown’s Teahouse > How Mountain Girls Can Love, Piece of Mine, Best Feeling > Search, Sledgehammer > Rosie

Set 3
Let’s Go Outside, Land’s End, Colorado Bluebird Sky > Bumpin’ Reel, Desert Dawn > Sweet Emotion > Desert Dawn, E: Bolly Munster > Colorado Bluebird Sky

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Candace Horgan is a Denver freelance writer/photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. When not writing and shooting, she plays guitar and violin in Denver band Black Postcards.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mani.powers.3 Mani Powers

    Awesome celebration with the Incident at 1st bank center! Happy New Year!