String Cheese Incident Returns to Upstate

A cover heavy jammin good time was had by a packed State Theater in Ithaca on Monday Nov. 10, the band’s first return to the Southern Tier since 2005.

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Opening with a 10+ minute “Shine”, the audience was enthralled from the high energy exhibited from the band members. “Orange Blossom Special” emerged from a jammed out “So Far From Home,” while “Dirk > Jungle Boogie > Dirk” stood out as a highlight of the show, giving a nod to their performance at Lockn’ Festival with K.C. of K.C. and the Sunshine Band. A closing “Colorado Bluebird Sky” was the highest of notes to end on, full of jamgrassy goodness throughout the western anthem.

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Two songs stood out in the second set – the opener “BollyMunster” and off of the recent release Song in My Head“Colliding”. I am still not sold on “BollyMunster,” simply because of its melting pot nature, featuring touches of bluegrass, Bollywood, and electronic as it just overwhelms what could be a stronger composition if stripped down slightly, even to an acoustic level. “Colliding,” however, wowed the audience with returns to the composition after a strong central jam. “Can’t Wait Another Day,” another track off Song in My Head, could easily transport you to a beach in the Caribbean, full of life and carefree dancing. “Outside and Inside” had a surprising inclusion of U2’s “Mysterious Ways,” catching the audience off guard but welcomed more than Songs of Innocence on their iPhones.

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The encore was a treat. Bill Nershi weaved his way through the semi-biographical “Jellyfish,” which ended up with two verses of Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritavilla” before moving into the closer “Black Clouds”. Their first time back in Upstate in nine years and String Cheese impressed the capacity crowd who were sent buzzing into the streets of Ithaca. Fortunately, this night’s show did not end early with the fire alarm being pulled. Back in October 2005, Bill Nershi made up for this faux pas by treating the fans to acoustic versions of “Bar Stool” and “Texas” in the street in front of the venue, but tonight the band would leave it all on the stage and the fans likewise would leave it all on the dance floor.

Set 1: Shine > So Far From Home > Orange Blossom Special, Sweet Spot, Master Blaster (Jammin), Drums, Dirk > Jungle Boogie > Dirk, Colorado Bluebird Sky

Set 2: BollyMunster, Miss Brown’s Teahouse > Chameleon > Miss Brown’s Teahouse, Colliding > Land’s End > Can’t Wait Another Day, Outside And Inside > Mysterious Ways > Outside And Inside

Encore: Jellyfish > Margaritaville > Black Clouds

String Cheese Incident continued their tour of NY with two nights at the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester on Tuesday the 11th and Wednesday the 12th. The crowd was getting restless until, at last, SCI took the stage a little after 8:30 with no shoes on but big smiles. The show kicked off with “Search” featuring some killer dueling solos from percussionists Jason Hann and Michael Travis. Keeping up with the upbeat vibe, “Birdland” saw strong organ chords from Kyle Hollingsworth with light cymbal work making for a fusion of jazz and funk when adding Keith Moseley’s bass. Bill Nershi gives a consistent earthy folk sound on his acoustic guitar as he danced merrily around the stage with Michael Kang, providing high voltage on the electric guitar. “Sometimes a River” held the classic rock rhythm with an easy flowing country melody as the crowd happily sang back the lyrics with gusto. Performing the title song of their album, “Song in my Head” was a swirling and dizzying light tune with steady builds before turning into a dark jam as the melody suddenly dropped to the thunderous boom of Travis. The set ended with “Close Your Eyes” which was a harmonious and ferocious jam with an ethnic flair from Hann on bongos and old world plucking from Nershi.

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The second set was a nonstop roller coaster of dark space and psychedelic melodies, starting out with an awesome Caribbean cover of “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads. “Valley of the Jig” was an Irish Lord of the Dance show, but with a dark side of Mars vibe. Taking a moment to experience the here and now, Moseley shouted out “Happy 11/11!” at 11:11pm as the band appropriately went into the breezy cute ballad of “Smile”. Not too surprising given the reputation of The Cap, but the beginning notes of The Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” resulted in a full-out explosion of midnight madness. SCI must have been on Colorado time as the show went pretty late for a week night as the set closed out with a spooky “Desert Dawn.” The encore of “Restless Wind” summed up everything there is about String Cheese Incident. Kang’s fiddle work brought out their deep roots of bluegrass, Hollingsworth slammed on his keys, and the entire band lifted the crowd with rockitude. SCI was appreciative of the fans and the atmosphere of the venue as they repetitively thanked the crowd. Both shows are available for download on livecheese.com.

Set 1: Search, Birdland, You’ve Got the World, Sometimes a River, Indian Creek, Song In My Head > Give Me the Love, Close Your Eyes

Set 2 : This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) > It Is What It Is> Valley of the Jig, Smile, Joyful Sound> Shakedown Street> Desert Dawn

Encore: Restless Wind