String Cheese Incident 12-10-11
After two incredible nights of music at The Aragon and a great afternoon with Family Groove Company at Kyle’s Brew Fest, it was finally time for the tour closer. I had been looking forward to this night for quite some time. There is no question that this show would be quintessential Cheese and one last chance to rage with my favorite jamgrass band. We arrived a bit earlier so as not to have to deal with the massive line we experienced the night prior. Due to the fact that I hadn’t gotten many shots of Kyle, Travis, and Hann I borrowed Mikey’s camera because it had a longer lens so I could make it happen. They opened with a song I called as the opener on the first night “Johnny Cash.” Here is the complete setlist from Friends of Cheese.
String Cheese Incident Live at Aragon Ballroom on December 10, 2011.
SET I: Johnny Cash, Rollover, Sometimes, A River, Pack It Up, Black And White, Colliding, Smile
SET II: Drums, Rivertrance, Howard, Way That It Goes, Barstool, Desert Dawn > BollyMunster > Desert Dawn
ENCORE: Land’s End
SECOND ENCORE: Restless Wind
This show was classic and contained much of what got me into SCI in the first place. I shot my photos during the first two songs and my last night in the pit seemed to fly by. Moseley took the reigns on “Sometimes A River,” beautifully bringing the initial energy down a peg, but with good reason. The boys from Colorado brought the funky goodness out with “Pack It Up,” Kyle just killing it on the keys the whole way through. Kang showed the overly packed crowd what he could do on “Black And White.” The flashing lights from the stage blazed across the crowd who bobbed back and forth to the beat. Some of the most amazing views of the entire run were seen from the balcony, giving a bird’s eye perspective to the stage and the people. The “Colliding,” which is a new tune, and something I got to see Kyle Hollingsworth Band perform back on the Front Range. However Cheese just took it to a whole new level as they continued to do with any solo songs that make it into their rotation. I think this song could be a powerhouse tune for years to come. They ended set one with a stellar Billy led “Smile” giving everyone something to well… smile about.
The second set may have been the best set of the music for the entire run. Hann and Travis came out for “Drums” leading the charge so to speak. The “Rivertrance” went in to untzy territory but that is to be expected with this song. “Howard” went all super space funk causing an all out dance party to break out. Kyle again took the helm on “Way That It Goes,” which ironically I had seen Kyle play at Brew Fest earlier that day. I didn’t take it personally considering they were two totally different interpretations of the song. Before breaking into “Barstool,” Nershi acknowledged that his daughter was in attendance and dedicated the song to her. The highlight of the whole show for me was the set closing “Desert Dawn” into the new track “BollyMunster” back into “Desert Dawn.” I remember commenting that the “Desert Dawn” was going to dark places. Basically it was like experience an entire 24-hour period in a three-song suite with “BollyMunster” representing the darkest depths of night.
String Cheese came back with a double encore including a sublime “Land’s End.” The “Restless Wind” was appropriate given the fact that it was the Roots Run Deep tour and also that it bookended the entire run. They started where they began back at The Fox in November, but musically they had come a long way. My overall experience in Chicago was intense admiration coupled with a serious feeling of gratitude for this wonderful band from the mountains. String Cheese Incident has represented a lot to me over the years and as lights dimmed on my 30th show with them I knew it has all been worth it. It’s taken them more than a couple years since they called it quits to truly get back into the groove. I can honestly say that they are back. Beefy jams combined with seriously strong execution have proven to me they are most definitely worth the trip. With five shows in just three days, meeting a ton of new people, hanging with some dear friends, shooting all three nights, and dancing whenever I had the chance, I could say that Chicago gave me my fill. I was ready to head back home with a newly reinvigorated love for the Cheese and a powerful happiness deep to my core. I look forward to the next time we meet on the dance floor. Winter Carnival anyone?
Review and Photos by Nicholas Stock