The final Incident: SCI at Red Rocks

String Cheese Incident 
Red Rocks Amphitheater
Morrison, Colorado
August 12, 2007
 
Words/Photos by Thomas Walsh

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Try as they might, there was no way the parking attendants were going to hurry anyone out of Red Rocks’ parking lot the night Bill Nershi departed the String Cheese Incident.  Elated yet tranquil, the audience had been through such an emotional peak that evening, it was simply impossible to leave at a moment’s notice.

If the parking attendants had been there to witness what the SCI community had just experienced, then perhaps they would understand.

Maybe they would understand if they knew about the giant octopus squirming above the amphitheater during the opening acoustic set.

Or maybe the fan-orchestrated slideshow the band watched throughout “Rhum N’ Zouc” would make them smile.

Maybe the fans could have mentioned Keller Williams’ hula-hooping his way to center stage, or the second encore for which the crowd faithfully pleaded, welcoming “Texas” to the historical footnotes as the last song The Incident ever played.

Or perhaps the parking attendants would have understood things on a more personal level, a more emotional level.  Because, more than anything else on August 12th, each and every fan attending String Cheese Incident’s final show, the final “Incident,” got peace of mind.  They got the closure they’ve long since awaited.

The finality of Cheese didn’t really register until the start of the third set at Red Rocks.  Granted, the audience knew this was the last time SCI was going to be playing together for the foreseeable future, but when creatures with eight tentacles are floating overhead, the mind really isn’t in touch with any sort of “reality.”

The party continued throughout the second set, especially when Keller Williams shared The Best Feeling In The World.  The amphitheater was bursting with so much excitement; Keller postponed his vocal delivery, causing the crowd to erupt with even more euphoria.  It was like 9,000 kindergarteners had been told that recess was extended fifteen minutes!

But by the time the third set started, the end was apparent, and String Cheese Incident knew it too.  They had no reservations about making the message clear either.  The lyrical content of songs like “Restless Wind,” “Looking Glass,” “Rhythm of the Road,” and “Shine” took on deeper meaning, each with purposeful intent.

There was no denying the truth anymore.  And if somehow the message wasn’t getting through, the music was just as reflective of the sentiments that evening.

The band extended the jam in “Shine” just a little further than one of them originally intended, pulling Michael Kang’s leading mandolin back into the melee before they all ransacked the climax together.

Afterwards, there were tears.

 

 

For those still unphased, an incredibly intimate jam out of Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” occurred during the first encore, a jam so delicate it surely woke up anyone who was not conscious of Cheese’s waning mortality.  The train was pulling out of the station, and the band wanted us all aboard for the finale.

“Good Times Around the Bend” could not have been a more appropriate choice for closing out SCIt’s career.  “The roller coaster has got to roll to the bottom if you want to climb to the top again.”  Even in the face of overwhelming reality, The String Cheese Incident had taken everyone to the top again, however bittersweet this last trip had been.

And now, looking back up at an amphitheater whose lights had been turned off, the SCI community realized that it got what it wanted.

They had closure.

So perhaps the best thing would have been to tell those parking attendants that one of the most beloved bands in America had just closed their last show with unparalleled style and grace.

That the catharsis everyone experienced during the last two hours was still running strong, and that the calm, peaceful mood in the air was a fleeting experience, and that nobody wanted to let go anytime soon, heartbreaking as it was to hold on.

Hopefully they would understand.

 

 

Set 1: Lester Had a Coconut, Long Journey Home, I’ve Just Seen a Face, Walls of Time, Panama Red, Hobo Song, Stingray

Set 2: One Step Closer > Rhum n’ Zouc, Sirens, Come as You Are, Indian Creek, Best Feeling* > Fuel for the Road*, Way Back Home

Set 3:  Restless Wind, Piece of Mine, Looking Glass > Drifting, Rain, Rhythm of the Road > Bumpin’ Reel > Shine

Encore:  Fearless, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Good Time Round the Bend

Encore 2: Texas

* w/ Keller Williams

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