As the band began to take the stage it was clear their level of energy was as high as the crowds’ in front of them. This may have been most noticeable via Bill Nershi as he leaped and jumped onto the stage proudly sporting an old school Denver Broncos Jersey. He briefly welcomed the crowd to another night of musical entertainment before saying, “We hope you have the time of your life,” getting the evening underway.
“Johnny Cash” an old time fan favorite kicked off the evening in perfect fashion igniting the crowd like gas to a flame. The band used this foundation to deliver a well-constructed set consisting of several feverish peaks matched with smooth melodic moments. A beautiful segue out of “Johnny Cash,” led into “Got What He Wanted” which the band seemed to use as a launch pad, effortlessly transitioning into a ten minute “Port Chester Jam.” The jam was built slowly layer upon layer traveling into a rather dark and spacey groove at its peak before morphing into “Beautiful” a song found on the bands most recent release. This is a catchy tune that has caught my attention and seems to easily get any crowd moving right along. The band then took it down a notch, displaying their vocal harmonies with the emotionally moving “Hotel Window,” which allowed everyone to cool off after their initial onslaught and just bask in the overall beauty of this song. The set continued along with stellar versions of both “Climb” and “Big Shoes” that combined, clocked in at nearly a half hour of pure electricity. This lead into a crushing version of “Rosie” another new favorite of mine that featured the band’s first and only sit-in of the evening featuring Todd Stoops (Kung Fu) joining in half way through the tune. The jamming between these two key masters was ridiculous to say the least as they went back and forth each pushing the other into a blistering peak closing out a powerful first set of the evening.
The crowd roared as the band took a bow thanking the fans for a magical 2 night run and didn't stop until the band returned to the stage for what was a 3 song encore. The band started with a nod to Jerry Garcia as well as The Capitol Theatre saying that “We would like to do one The Jerry Band loved to play, especially in a place like this” before jumping into “Tore Up Over You.” This was a nice surprise and made me wonder what it was like for those fortunate enough to have seen Jerry himself grace the stage in this very building years before. Keeping with the covers and nods to legends of music past, the band delivered a stellar version of Paul Simon’s “Under African Skies.” This is a tune I personally love and to hear SCI put their unique stamp on it was a glorious way of bringing this killer 2 night run to an end. Thinking it was all she wrote I was pleasantly surprised to hear the start of an old bluegrass tune made famous by Norman Blake. The song from his album by the same name seemed to bring the whole evening to a delightful crescendo as the band ended with a bluegrass style throw down their fans have come to expect.
This evening as well as the one before was just a small taste of the overwhelming success String Cheese has seemed to find on this most recent tour. For a band that has undoubtedly established themselves within the world of music this group shows little sign of settling for just that. The level of musicianship as well as overall quality of jamming they have displayed lately is to me their best yet, taking an already proven formula which hooked me at first listen and somehow only managing to bring it to the next level. Jamming tighter and brighter than ever before this band continues to impress me and blow the minds of their ever growing fan base. The east coast welcomed this band back with open arms and the band responded, jumping head first into those very arms. If there was ever a time to get on-board this train it’s right now as the future has never seemed quite as bright for this band as it does right now.
Words: Chason Heins
Photos: Mike Geller
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