Thursday, September 3, 2009

ROTHBURY pt.5 - String Cheese Incident

Friends of Cheesus, newcomers, welcome all to the show that was the highlight of the Rothbury Festival. Skeptical? With the Dead on the bill, how could the String Cheese Incident have provided the pinnacle show? Let me tell you that I came for many bands, but the Dead were top of my list. I had never heard the String Cheese Incident before Rothbury and was glad to have the opportunity to check them out. In the following post, I will show you how the SCI is the embodiment of the spirit of Rothbury. You will see...

After our big day out on Friday, taking in several of my favourite touring acts, my knees were pretty shot from all the high-power dancing and walking. I was ready to retire for a bit, get some dinner, and come back to check out set 2 of SCI. On our way out, we ran against a river of fans so psyched, so colourfully garbed, and so verbal that we started having second thoughts: "You people are going the WRONG WAY! String Cheese is THIS WAY>>" The excitement in the air was extreme. The band's first performance in 2 years, I could see why the Cheeseheads were so enthused. We started to reconsider... My faithful knees dictated that we could go no further anyway, so we turned around, got some delicious dinner at the Ranch and moseyed in to catch the end of the first set. Here's what we saw...
A HUGE party! Everyone was dressed up and grooving with many inflatable creatures. The band broke into a song by one of our favourite bands: Talking Heads - Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place). Well, we thought to ourselves, this MUST be the place!
And here they are, the String Cheese Incident. That's Keith Moseley on the left. A bass player who sings - just my type! He leads many of their bluegrass songs. Michael Kang is in the middle on electric mando, while Bill Nershi is lead beard and acoustic. Kyle Hollingsworth is an INCREDIBLE keyboardist. Micheal Travis (drums) and Jason Hann (percussion) are in the back and don't make it into a lot of shots, but provide a solid and varied rhythm to the Cheese's sound.
Check these guys out - could you find a more unlikely combination of players? Michael Kang is from South Korea via Colorado and many other cool places. He's 10 yrs Nershi's junior. Nershi is a bluegrass flatpicker, but when these guys play together, the sound can range from African rhythms to techno to balls-out harmony guitar. The band is tight, a real feat since they navigate so many musical territories.
Let's take a closer look...
Kang's electric 5-string mandolin isn't the only sexy thing
onstage... Look at this man - he's beautiful! And he can PLAY!
Here's Nersh in all his glory. This guy has got chops. What a versatile musician. Everyone in the group is, really, and that's what makes the String Cheese sound - mixing it up.
And the crowd is loving it!
After the first set, the audience were primed and the energy very high. As we headed into nighttime, the real spectacle began...
Projectiles... Action!!
Imagine THOUSANDS of glowsticks flying through the air, creating a constantly undulating sea of colour and light... that provided the backdrop for a host of many inflatable toys: beachballs, dolphins, octopi... surging on the seas of cheese (Les Claypool's dream come true).
And then came the balls...
As if the audience's inflatable orgy wasn't enough, the band had a few surprises up their giant sleeves. From the wings of the stage came six 10ft beach balls which the crowd delightedly bounced around.
Then, another 6 balls were released, this time about 15ft high. Wow. Then another 6 black and white striped beach balls rolled out, about 2 storeys high!
The crowd was freakin at this point. Everything got weird. The music shifted to a deep funky techno feel.
Hoopers appeared on platforms, lit up and spinning...
Then appeared onstage two corde lisse artists. Corde lisse is an aerial circus skill that involves acrobatics on vertically hanging fabric.
These women were twisting, turning, spinning and dropping through the air while the band played on...

What a spectacle!
And then, from the back of the venue and the VIP section, came rolling over the crowd a GINORMOUS red ball. It was like out of a B-movie: Attack of the Giant 4-storey Red Blob! Crushing thousands of fans in ecstacy! Luckily no one was hurt, but it sure looked heavy... glad I was watching from the sidelines.
I was hoping that the crowd would be able to keep it from crushing the artists onstage!
Holy cow, you've never seen anything like it in your concert-going days, kids! This was the spectacle to beat all.
Not content with ending at the climax, there were about 30 of these beautiful mini hot-air balloons released from the crowd to make a sea of glowing lights rising into the perfect night sky.
Simply magical.
For the encore, the band brought out Kellar Williams to help play and sing "Best Feeling in the World". They ended with "Restless Wind" and the audience was set free to carry the high into the rest of the weekend, into the Sherwood Forest, and off into the night...
What a band. What a show. I love you String Cheese. You left a pretty potent first impression. Hope it's not the last time, either!
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you visit to buy a copy of the show for $9.95 (mp3). Great quality recording and excellent music. The show is so well put together - stylistic changes, great musicianship, everyone taking turns to sing lead vocals, just an all-around fantastic show.
String Cheese Incident Setlist
Rothbury Music Festival 07/03/09
Set 1:
Rollover >
Can’t Stop Now
Miss Brown’s Teahouse
Mouna Bowa
Love Is Like A Train
Rain >
Joyful Sound >
This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) >
Set 2:
Outside and Inside >
Desert Dawn
Black Clouds
Little Hands >
Bumpin’ Reel
Close Your Eyes
Way Back Home >
Texas >
Blackberry Blossom >
Best Feeling* >
Higher Ground >
Restless Wind

* With Keller Williams

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