Photos by Mandy Pichler
The String Cheese Incident brought its six-city Winter Carnival 2015 tour to Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom. And last night’s gig at the historic venue, the first of a three-night run and the only Midwest shows, made it perfectly clear that the Colorado-based jam band brings along all their goodies on tour—because they fully unloaded on stage.
From the first note of what would be an eight song, 80-plus minute first set, SCI had every fan at the nearly sold-out show moving and grooving to “Outside and Inside.” Next, they segued into an astounding 18-plus minute ”Best Feeling.” But it wasn’t just the band’s ingenious fusion of bluegrass, funk, jazz, psychedelic, country and world music they unloaded.
In true SCI style, the band unleased its tight yet free-flowing musicianship, spectacular light show extravaganza, swirling stage show production and glowing vibe. The band’s sense of humor and playful performance style came along for the ride to Chicago as well, to make what would be a two-set, nearly three-hour night of memory-making music. Throughout the show, the interaction between electric guitarist Michael Kang acoustic guitarist Bill Nershi fueled the already high-octane sound created by bandmates Keith Moseley, Michael Travis, Kyle Hollingsworth and Jason Hann.
Last year, SCI released its first album in nine years, A Song in My Head. It’s not the albums, however, that have made SCI one of the most popular jam bands; it’s the extreme fluidity and jubilant aura of their live shows that have fans repeatedly returning for more. Last night’s show was no exception. In fact, it was exceptional.
– Mandy Pichler