String Cheese Incident
December 29, 2001
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium: San Francisco, California
Source: John Hart's Schoeps MK41 > MP2 > AD2K+ > DAP1
Extracted using Track Thief and Shortened on a Macintosh G4 Cube by [email protected]
1. close your eyes
3. these waves
4. ballad of Stagger Lee?
5. sittin? on top of the world
6. white freightliner blues?
7. rhythm of the road>
8. crosstown traffic
2. outside inside
3. under African skies>
4. turn this around
5. hotel window
6. hold what you?ve got?
7. way back home
Set 2 continued
1. Miss Brown?s teahouse>
3. Black and White?
? with Darol Anger on fiddle and Taj Mahal
? with Darol Anger on fiddle
? with Michael Franti
First Time Played: Ballad of Stagger Lee (traditional cover)
Reviews from the Incidentalist:
December 29th show, though, ranks far and away as the worst show I have seen
out of 49.
On the 29th we got in line early to secure a block of seats for our whole
group. We got in and had plenty of time to wander and check things out. I
saw a bit of Topaz in the side room, and checked out parts of Taj Mahal.
SCI somehow decided that tonight was to be the night to showcase all the
boring overplayed new tunes. Close Your Eyes to open? Yawn. The MLT
after that was hoppin as always, but then came the John Barlow tune, These
Waves. What? I thought that getting him involved was supposed to improve
the songwriting. As Chris Bowd said when he posted the lyrics a couple
months ago, this song is essentially garbage. After that, Daryl Anger came
out and plated a couple great bluegrass traditionals - the SOTOTW was cool
White Freightliner was really fun. Rhythmn of the Road is always cool to
hear, and the set closer with Crosstown Traffic had me thinking of the 4th
and B show they busted it out.
Second set is where it all went downhill. ANOTHER overplayed new song,
Outside Inside, to open the set. Then I thought they went into Way Back
Home, but it turned out to be Under African Skies - which is a nice tune,
but still a cover that they HAVE been overplaying. Then came the rock band
song, Turn this Around. I've never liked this song, it sounds like SCI
trying to be a 91X band. Then a new ballad, Hotel Window. Slow and a bit
depressing. A brief bluegrass reprieve came next, Hold What you Got, with
Daryl Anger again, got me up and smiling. Then came another Under African
Skies? No, this one WAS Way Back Home. Did they take the melody directly
from UAS for this one? At this point, Gregg sits down. I started yearning
for some older Cheese, lamenting the loss of my favorite band to what this
has become. I thought "Where's the REAL funk? How about a Miss Browns
Teahouse?" Well, somebody must have tipped the band off that I wasn't
happy, because the next song WAS Miss Browns Teahouse. Sweet! But the jam
in the middle of it went from nowhere to noplace, it sounded dark and
Phish-like. Why is Phish rearing its head in a fun happy funk tune like
MBTH? The Roll Over was the same as well - nice happy tune that somehow
ended up as a launching pad for a jam that went nowhere. The encore, YET
ANOTHER SONG OFF OUTSIDE INSIDE, Black and White, featured Spearhead again.
I think this guy is good and a genius in his own genre, but why is a
bluegrass/jamband bringing him out 2 nights in a row?
Kyle really shined and dominated during night 2, I could barely hear Kang in
the mix, and it disappointed me that Kang did not pick up his fiddle even
once. With Daryl Anger there, they had the perfect opportunity to bust
Rivertrance with dueling fiddles, or something equally spacy and cool.
Here are my thoughts on it:
I'm sorry, but SCI is really NOT a rock band, you need a dominating lead
guitar to do that. Kang is great and talented, but he is not a lead guitar
SCI is not a funk band either. Kyle seems to have really taken control as
the bands leader and is transforming them into one, but you need a bass
player that can take over at times for that - Keith is good in his own way
but not capable of dropping the bombs and taking over in the funk. At
least I didn't see it..
Also, it appears to me as if the SCI scene has been overrun with tourrats.
It's as bad as the Phish scene had gotten folks. Never before have I seen
so many kids with Phish shirts, selling gooballs in the Ramada lobby, asking
for kickdowns, etc.. While in line on Friday the 28th, one dready girl
kept walking by saying "Please pass extra ticket to local tourkid". Wait,
isn't that a contradiction? LOCAL - TOURKID? It took all of my self
control not to tell her that with a sales pitch like that, she better be
expecting to get naked and dance for somebody. So much of the ME ME ME, I
kept seeing, and it left a bad taste my mouth.
I ended up going to see Phil on New Years. I had never done a Grateful Dead
related new years show, and was really glad I went. They played until 3 AM!
By that time my body had just about shut itself off.
Finally, I have something I have get off my chest - about that "exclusive"
Secret Identity Dance on the 29th. One guy went as far as telling me how he
helped organize it, was tight with mama Sutra, and what an awesome show
stopping once-in-a-lifetime party this was going to be. Even when I said I
didn't have a ticket and that it wasn't that big of a deal, he still went on
to say how much I was going to be missing out, and whata kickass time it was
going to be. Has our scene become that separated and elitist? Would any
of you do that to somebody you even remotely liked? "Oh, it's going to be
the best ever, I got ALL my friends in, too bad you're not going"
Ok, I just had to get that out.
It was great seeing everybody, sorry about the honest, albeit negative
feedback on String Cheese Incident. I'm not going to stop seeing them, but
I think I will be picking my Incidents this year based on location as much
as anything else. Hawaii anyone?
So night 2 arrives and we get in early enough to grab a couple rows of seats
in the same section of the balcony as the night before. Prior to the show
Barbara and I went up to the 4th floor to the Academy of Superheroic Arts
(no comment; more later). Munched on some pizza and got settled in for Taj
Mahal, who put on an infinitely more pleasing set than G-Love did the night
before. New addition to the balcony was a large red LOVE banner, which
pretty much set the tone for the night.
Close Your Eyes
Ballad of Staggerlee * ^
Sittin' On Top of the World * ^
White Freightliner ^
Rhythm of the Road > Jam >
* w/ Taj Mahal
^ w/ Darol Anger
The Close Your Eyes to open got everyone moving and was a pretty good
version, but I, frankly, enjoyed the rest of the set much more. I hadn't
heard MLT in a long time, so I was really pleasantly surprised when the band
decided to do this one. Very nice version as well with Kyle continuing to
shine this night. These Waves....as it began I was really happy to hear
this again. I figured it might wait until NYE, but was happy to hear it on
12/29 instead. The ending of the song still needs a bit of work, but the
verses, chorus and bridge are all worked out and sound great. Taj and Anger
are then introduced and the band starts into the Ballad of Staggerlee.
While this is not the GD's version of Staggerlee, it is based on the same
traditional tune/story. Very similar to the Tony Furtado Band version.
Excellent fiddle from Darol. The Sittin' on Top of the World (again with
Taj and Anger) is vastly different from prior versions (save for the Boulder
version two weeks ago). Much slower and shuffles along very similar to
LoS's version (circa 1996). Taj then left the stage and the band did an
excellent (though fairly standard) version of White Freightliner with Darol.
Darol leaves and the band starts the familar jazz-note intro to Rhythm of
the Road. Outstanding version with a tremendous segue jam (the only one of
the set) into a surprising Crosstown Traffic (though I suppose I shouldn't
have been that surprised in that traffic on Market St. that afternoon was so
bad that it caused what is typically a short cab ride to the City Lights
bookstore in North Beach to be a 20 minute one). As I've said before,
there's nothing better than a Crosstown Traffic after sitting in it earlier
Nice 40 minute break allowed for plenty of socializing and touring around
Outside Inside >
Under African Skies > Jam >
Turn this Around >
Hold What You've Got ^
Way Back Home
Mrs. Brown's Teahouse > mini parade >
e> Black & White (with Michael Franti)
While I enjoyed the special guests and energy of the first set, the second
set had a profound emotional effect on me. Outside Inside to open was
fine...I've frankly grown tired of seeing this one, but starting the second
set worked for me. What was nice about this version is that it segued into
a great version of Under African Skies. Well played and jammed out into a
Mauna Bowa tease that had the cheers rising in anticipation, before
disappointing us by going into Turn this Around. You could almost hear the
collective "ahhhh". As I've contended for the last 1.5 years, Turn this
Around is a good song (in some ways it's infinitely better than Howard) and
this version was fantastic; it went way out there before slamming back into
the theme, before finishing, slowing down and segueing into Hotel Window. I
know some of you are bored during this BNR moment, but for me, this song is
pure bliss and heartfelt sadness all at once. Once again, SCI moved me to
tears.....real ones...my heartstrings were pulled so hard on this one that I
cried my eyes out as Billy sang. Back out comes Darol and the boys go into
the Ralph Stanley classic, Hold What You've Got. While not markedly
different from other SCI versions, Darol still added a lot of fiddle and
freed Michael up to play mandolin the entire song. Way Back Home was
fantastic. Maybe the best version of this song I have heard. It went
waaaaay out and came back. Mrs. Browns got everyone moving again and
funking it up. Keith was all over this one. While the song was never
finished, it segued into a rather mellow jam in which a mini-parade took
place...several large and small creatures/superheroes of different "species"
marched/danced across the middle of the floor to the center. The parade jam
segued into the first non-NYE Rollover in a holiday run that I can remember.
This made me very happy and this version was nothing short of spectacular.
Highlights: Turn this Around, Hotel Window, Rollover.
The B & W encore started and at first appeared to be a trainwreck. Michael
started with the second verse and then instead of going back to do the first
verse, did the second verse a second time. Pretty unusual for Michael, I
thought, but then when Michael Franti was introduced, it became sort of
clear that the flub may not have been a flub at all. The B & W
included/featured Michael Franti on a beat box of sorts, in which he rapped
or scatted various statements about war and peace and music being the
international unifier. What *I* thought he was saying was "You can bomb the
world to pieces, but you can't find no inner peace" as opposed to what
others have reported ("You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb
the world to peace.") Either way, the rap was an emotional plea to change
the way "we're" doing business, to challenge the misguided leaders of this
country, and made for a wonderful and moving social statement. The more I
listen to Franti and Spearhead, the more I think that he/they are truly
gifted and positive. While a bit edgier than Marley (both musically and
lyrically), they certainly try to convey many of the same themes Bob did 20
All in all this show was a great one. May have flowed a bit better than the
prior night, but wasn't that much better than the prior night to make this
show stand out as best of the run. In fact, as will become fairly clear in
my 12/31 review, I really would be hard-pressed to pick a best of run show.
After what I thought was a fairly average show the night before, I was pumped
to see if the boys would turn it up a notch...and they did.
Close Your Eyes is gettin' better every time I hear it. It's a great song to
open a show with...'Close your eyes, look inside, and see what you can find."
and the jam in the middle has come a long way. MLT was a great follow up,
nothin' gets a crowd of cheese-junkies movin' like a little salsa. The jam
was great, as usual, and the boys already seemed like they were playin' a lot
tighter than the night before. I still don't like These Waves, i feel like
Britney Spears might end up covering it at some point in her career. Taj
Mahal and Darol Anger were nice additions and they did one of Taj Mahal's
songs "The Ballad of Stagger Lee". It was nice, but a breather for sure. Then
we got a great SOTOTW and everybody was bouncin' again. The grass kept
growin' as the boys did a nice version of White Freightliner. After the
guests left the stage, it was obvious that we'd get somethin' crazy...and we
did in the form of ROTR. Great version! BNR. Billy picked us into a frenzy
and the jam out of ROTR was awesome. I don't think anybody saw the Crosstown
Traffic coming, I know didn't, but I was psyched to see my first one. Kang
rips this cover and the crowd erupted as the first set concluded. As I waited
in the slow-moving beer lines I felt a lot better about this set than either
of the ones from the night before. Although the song selection wasn't great,
the musicianship was topnotch. The band was much tighter than the night
before and the crowd was diggin' it.
They came back out and opened 2nd set with Outside Inside. They didn't do any
intro for it, (you know the one they've been doin' recently that sounds like
the BOTWP intro) but I actually really got into the song. I usually don't
like this one, but I was feelin' it on that night (coulda been the popcorn).
UAS was exactly what the crowd needed. Fun, jumpy, tune and the place was
rockin' for the jam out of it. The segue was killer as they melted into a
crazy version of Turn this Around. This is another song that's been growing
on me and this night was a great one. Maybe not Vegas great, but real close,
and a very similar jam. Slow and methodical. BNR. Hotel Window is a great
breather. I'd take this one over Barstool any day. BNR. Angor comes back out
for a quick version of Hold What You Got. The crowd was movin' again and the
fiddle work was great. Way Back Home was pretty standard as I recall, but
this song too is growing on me. It and Turn this Around have really grown
over the past couple of tours. While the set was really great to that point,
what was to follow made the show. Ms. Brown's was killer. Super funk, Kyle
starts to really take over on this one and the jam that follows was
wonderful. I thought we might get a Rollover closer tonight, and sure enough,
we did. Kyle went nuts in the jam and thank god they finished the song in
it's entirety without slipping anything in the middle. The song is great the
way it is, and sounds better when they just play it straight through instead
of makin' sandwiches. The Second Set was great and they came back out to
encore Black and White. Some guy, who I thought was the same as the night
before, came out half way through and did a real cool freestyle rap in the
middle of Black and White. I actually really enjoyed him up there. We all
endin' up singin': "You can bomb the world to pieces, but you can't bomb the
world to peace." over and over. It was really nice, and fitting as we
approached the New Year.
IMO, this was a much better show than the night before. The band was
definately tighter. The jams and transitions seemed to flow better.
Highlights were definately: ROTR>jam>Crosstown, UAS>jam>Turn this Around, and
The show was, well, ok. My experience of the crowd was disappointing. I guess Horning's being 3/4 of the shows I've seen gave me a rather skewed view of The Scene. SO much alcohol and trash outside the venue. SO much smoking inside the venue (cigarettes). We got there somewhat late, near the end of Taj's set and had to take nosebleed seats. There was just this VAST quantity of cigarette smoke, which really degraded my concert experience. I could have gone down to the floor, but I have back problems and prefer to sit for usually about 1/2-3/4 the concert. So we sat in the upper, upper seats and inhaled packs of tobacco smoke.
The show itself was pretty good, but not amazing. I did enjoy seeing them play with Taj and Darol. They didn't play any of my Most Favorites and did play some that are, well, not boring, but not my favorites either (way back home, these waves....though both those songs have potential). I thought it was a really average cheese show. It certainly didn't suck, I rather enjoyed it, but neither did it showcase the ecstatic energy they are more than capable of, you know? High points had to be Crosstown Traffic, which was awesome, and Hold What You Got, which was fun and bouncy.
We left near the end (well past midnight, hour drive ahead of us, wanted to be out of there before the crowd did, and we were so tired of the smoke). We split during Way Back Home and missed Michael Franti!! sigh.