The floor of the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield, Colorado, shook in excitement as thousands fans rustled their feet in anticipation. The String Cheese Incident’s fifth consecutive New Year’s extravaganza kicked off on Thursday, December 29th and the energy was tangible as the crowd eagerly awaited the music to begin.
The String Cheese Incident’s wildly glamorous three-night New Year’s runs are said to mirror the band’s Saturday night festival spectaculars. My friends and I traveled over twelve hours to experience our first SCI New Years show and we were left in a frenzied state that was far from disappointed.
Night One, Thursday 12.29.16
The String Cheese Incident featuring Big Gigantic
Despite the fact that SCI’s pianist Kyle Hollingsworth fractured his left hand right before the weekend spectacular began, the weekend got off to roaring start with the fan favorite “Round the Wheel.” Night one also featured the electro-funk band from Boulder, Colorado, Big Gigantic with members Jeremy Salken and Dominic Lalli who took the stage during the second set. The two bands morphed into The Big Gigantic Incident during set two featuring all of the members of String Cheese. Fans who were expecting to see a typical Big G set were able to experience the band in a different, primarily acoustic way as they joined musical forces with SCI.
Highlights from set two included the “Joyful Sound”, a Cheese-ified rendition of Big G’s “C’Mon”, and a thrilling performance of the foot-stomper “Bollymunster” which closed out the second set.
Hollingsworth’s right hand put it work during the encore which was “Rosie”, followed by “Touch the Sky” and “Desert Dawn.” As the psychedelic stage lights did their final dance across the crowd, everyone in auditorium cheered as the lights came on and exposed us as all as the silly, erratic and fabulous Cheese fans we are.
Night Two, Friday 12.30
The String Cheese Incident featuring The Floozies
Night two of the New Years festivities began with a bumping set from Kansas City natives, The Floozies. The two brothers brought the funk and had everyone moving and grooving some type of way. However, The String Cheese Incident truly stole the show during night two as they flexed their musical muscles and powered into their first set with an exhilarating performance of “Valley of the Jig” which set the precedent for an epic set. SCI’s performance Friday night was truly a spectacle that bursted with heart-racing rhythms and spine tingling jams. Set two featured “Come As Your Are”, “Through the Cracks” and picked up the gusto with the Cheese staple “Go Outside.” The night reached an end with a whimsical cover of Youssou N’Dour’s “Shakin’ The Tree.”
Night Three, Saturday 12.31
An Evening with String Cheese
Saturday Night String Cheese shows means one thing: party time. By the third night of the SCI NYE 2017 run, the crowd had morphed to something that looked like less like a gathering of people and more like a frenzy of jellyfish, glitter and shimmering lights. Set one started strong as it opened with the classic SCI song “San Jose” followed by “Song in My Head.” The first set finished with The Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” The band kept the energy going in set two with “Orange Blossom Special” and “Howard” and treated the crowd to a cover of Police’s “Walking on The Moon”, which my boyfriend claims the band has never played during any of the 90 SCI shows he has attended.
As midnight approached, the 1st Bank Center erupted into a circus of glitz-filled balloons, aerial acrobats and dancers. SCI powerfully performed their song “You’ve Got the World” which acted as an anthem as we marched into the New Year. In place of a traditional disco ball, there was an ominous, covered orb that hung over the crowd each night which finally made its descent as midnight approached. “Just One Story” began playing and the orb was uncovered to reveal a marvelous carousel filled with even more ornate dancers! 2017 was off to a glorious start as the crowd rejoiced and made joyful sounds as they danced in a sea of golden balloons, confetti, glitter.
The final set of the weekend began with a high-intensity cover of “River Trance” which even the most exhausted attendees couldn’t resist the urge to shake every bone in their body to. The set concluded with a heavy but sultry rendition of “Beautiful” followed by the encore featuring “The Mighty Quinn” and “Sitting on Top of the World.”
The weekend was a fantastical blur filled with music and mayhem. It is always a special experience when fans near and far gather for to celebrate over a mutual love of music. My first SCI NYE run was everything that I hoped it would be and more left me with a new appreciation for The String Cheese Incident’s music talents and conviction to do it all again next year.
All Photos by Selin Ponce of Selin Ponce Photography & Design