Winter Carnival 2011, Night 1: A Fan’s Recollection.
We arrive to 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, CO. First stop, the “lot”. I had a couple extra tickets to sell as well and only in a Cheese lot will hopeful attendees try to buy your extra for $40 less than face. All the freaky people begin to gather – reuniting, laughing, and sharing stories from their last Incident just waiting to get their first taste of 2011 Cheese. I hear it’s the newly aged kind.
We walk into 1st Bank just in time to catch the last bit of Ott. Tribal beats flow through the air and bodies are already grooving. Ott, turntable master based out of London, England, was a perfect warm-up for Winter Carnival. I was also hoping to see Ott sit in with Cheese later on in the show, but unfortunately that did not end up happening.
And then it’s time. The 6 members of the String Cheese Incident walk on stage – Keith Moseley, Michael Kang, Billy Nershi, Kyle Hollingsworth, Jason Hann, and Michael Travis. It’s show time baby! “Alright!” Billy shouts as the crowd crescendos their excitement, “Where’ve ya’ll been?” (Nersh man, we’ve been right here, waiting for you guys to tour!) Cheese opens with “Smile”, which surprised me since they opened up with this last year at Hornings. But the crowd could care less. Next comes the “Birdland” >“Flying Home Jam” >”Wheel Hoss” >“Birdland” segment. “Wheel Hoss” gets the crowd energized with this knee-slapping hootenanny.
Cheese delivered a solid sf“Sometimes a River” > “Black and White” >” Suntan” > “Don’t Say” > “Water” > “Colorado Bluebird Sky”. Kang supplied vocals and rockin’ mando on “Black and White” with strong keyboard support from Kyle. “Suntan” was dusted off and showcased Hann and Travis on percussion. I enjoyed “Don’t Say”, which lead to “Water” bringing a more pyscha, disco-funk sound than previous versions. “Colorado Bluebird Sky” ended the first set with an idyllic tune, written by Billy Nershi and his wife, Jillian.
Nersh walks out as ‘Rick James, bitch!’ and the second sets starts off light hearted and fun with “ÁBam!”> “Fuck You” > “ÁBam!”. Kyle, with help from this lovely back-up singers Moseley and Kang, led the vocals on Cee-lo Green’s “Fuck You”. “Betray the Dark” followed and what could be an intense, trippy jam never really gets there.
Rivertrance has become a fan favorite thanks to Kang’s beautiful, energetic fiddle. It was difficult to make out Kang’s signature fiddle with Hann and Travis’ nitty, gritty Eoto influence. Towards the end we got to hear more of that fiddle jam that makes the guy in the front row, with crutches, jump to the moon.
“Cottonmouth”>“ Piece of Mine” > “Sweet Melinda” > “Big Shoes” > “Ramble On” made up the end of the second set. Moseley soothes the soul with “Cottonmouth”. Love this tune, but frustrated that they don’t expand on this. Why don’t they jam this out? This song has been shortened down to less than 5 minutes over the years. I thought it was interesting for Nershi to use his electric both on “Sweet Melinda” and “Big Shoes”. The boys put in good effort during the last part of “Big Shoes”, but the drum kit drowned the others out.
Thursday’s encore started with “Barstool”, psyched they played it and Kyle’s keys definitely brought the spirit up in the jam. For the first time, Cheese covered Chuck Berry’s tune, “Tore Up Over You”, reminiscent of the Jerry Gracia Band’s version. Moseley’s vocals were solid and, once again, Nershi sounded damn good on his electric.
Overall I enjoyed Thursday night and glad they dusted off some shelved tunes. It’s obvious that Cheese has taken a new approach on songs that they have played a hundred times over. Some may not like it, but I do appreciate how they translate their current influences to the performance. As always, each member brings their individual talent and together weave a weekend full of music and entertainment for their fans to get lost in.
Review: Ashley Sawtelle
Photos: Brian Spady
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