Halloween brings out the someone else in all of us. Each year, on the last day of October, donning your favorite assless chaps, fishnet stockings, or superhero costume – or maybe even all three at once – is absolutely hunky dory, and most folks won’t even give you a second glance.
The Halloween show offers a band the same opportunity – the chance to assume new musical personae, to reach and stretch with songs previously unknown in earlier setlists. Fans eat up these sonic masquerades, deliriously looking forward to what their favorite band might bust out.
It was common knowledge that Colorado’s String Cheese Incident, who brought its ever-evolving trancey bluegrass dance fiesta to rabid fans across the country for well over a decade, threw some of the hottest Halloween parties around. To celebrate the magic of the SCI Halloween concert experience – dubbed Hulaween, by the band’s happy hooping hippie horde – the band is releasing Trick or Treat, a nine disc retrospective that highlights many of the band’s hottest Hulaween moments, including seven of SCI’s vaunted cover sets.
The nine disc compilation – which is also available in abbreviated two disc or two record sets – is fine Cheese. From the earliest featured Hulaween, the 1998 show at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse that included a monster “’Round the Wheel” and a sit in from Jazz Mandolin Project’s Jamie Mansfield, to the politically tinged 2004 Hulaween that featured covers of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” and The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” Trick of Treat showcases the evolution of String Cheese Incident’s sound and the band’s constant willingness to explore the musical universe.
Highlights from Trick or Treat include the entire 2001 cover set, which took audience members on a tour of New York by featuring numerous Big Apple themed songs – The Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn” and John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” truly rise to the occasion – and the entire 2002 “Dead Rock Star” set, which had each member of the band dressed as a deceased rock and roll hero and had the band playing appropriate tunes, like The Doors’ “LA Woman” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” SCI’s collaboration with Keller Williams on Nelly’s “Hot in Herre” is also can’t miss.
For the rabid String Cheese Incident fan, the investment in this set is all treat and no trick. A couple years into an extended hiatus, Cheeseheads out there are looking for some candy in their sacks, and this set certainly fits the bill.
Trick or Treat is out now on SCI Fidelity.