Over their 30-year legacy, The String Cheese Incident (SCI) have stayed true to their roots as a band born and bred in Colorado. This jam band, originally from Crested Butte, pay homage to their home state nearly every year with a series of live performances. 

Their 2023 Colorado run covered an impressive five nights this July: two at Dillon Amphitheater followed by three at Red Rocks. Their Red Rocks run amounted to an incredible achievement, however. SCI gathered to celebrate something that few bands enjoy enough longevity to reach: 50 shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

As part of this celebration, SCI went all out. They brought impressive openers, powerful production, diverse setlists (to cover six sets in total, as the band played two each night), and special guests who represent the biggest and the best in music history. Cheese fans who attended all three nights were lucky to participate in a completely unique experience each time.

Read on for detailed coverage of all three nights at Red Rocks.

Yellow poster featuring school bus for SCI's Red Rocks concerts
Artwork for Three Nights at Red Rocks

The Fogerty Incident

The first night at Red Rocks featured a new supergroup, The Fogerty Incident. This one-night-only collaboration combined String Cheese Incident and Rock-and-Roll-Hall-of-Famer John Fogerty. Fogerty was the lead singer of the iconic 1960s band Credence Clearwater Revival. His presence brought out fans of all generations to enjoy some SCI magic. 

First, set one offered a traditional String Cheese performance that warmed the crowd up before Fogerty’s arrival. The band took the stage with guitarist Michael Kang, flanked by his barefoot fellow members Keith Moseley (on bass) and Bill Nershi (on acoustic guitar). During night one, they kicked off a running joke of the whole weekend, claiming that keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth was out to see the Taylor Swift Eras tour. He was replaced by “Karl Washington,” who looked suspiciously like Hollingsworth in a huge wig and mustache. 

Alongside the jokes, the band kicked off their Red Rocks run with tons of classic SCI jams. A highlight of set 1 was “Rivertrance.” During this Irish-inspired song, Kang’s impressively fast violin playing led the crowd to dance an Irish jig. With this end to set one, it was nearly time for The Fogerty Incident.

Following intermission, the band was joined by John Fogerty alongside his son Shane Fogerty on guitar. They turned up the energy immensely as the evening transitioned from gentle jams to hard rock. The amphitheatre offered a perfect ambiance as the night sky lit up with occasional lightning over Denver. Even at age 78, Fogerty proved he still has the swagger of a classic rocker. Without a doubt, the most impactful moment of The Fogerty Incident was the encore: a powerful version of Credence Clearwater Revival’s hit song “Proud Mary.” 

The Golden Incident

On Saturday night, the band officially made history with their 50th performance at Red Rocks, aptly titled The Golden Incident. All band members and crew were decked out in gold outfits — and so were many fans. 

The Kitchen Dwellers, a four-piece bluegrass band from Montana, started the night. This quartet was a fitting opening act. The stellar performances on banjo, mandolin, upright bass, and guitar represent the exact type of showmanship that Cheese fans love. Powerful vocals from frontman Torrin Daniels rang out through the amphitheater, as a visual artist in the upper rows painted a beautiful rainbow portrait of The Kitchen Dwellers.

The Kitchen Dwellers perform at Red Rocks
The Kitchen Dwellers

Next, Set one of The Golden Incident kicked off with a special intro from Jack Mento, a longtime friend of the band. He led the audience to chant “I believe in love” and then spoke with gratitude about the fans’ role in helping the band reach 30 years and 50 Red Rocks show. It was a testament to the beauty of SCI’s fanbase.  

As the band kicked off their set, they also continued their joke about the Eras tour from the previous night. On night two, Hollingsworth appeared in an Eras tour T-shirt. Even more, SCI played a cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style,” much to the surprise (and delight) of the audience. 

In the second half of the night, Set two was truly a celebration of SCI’s achievement. The crowd danced beneath massive trails of golden streamers while gold beach balls and balloons bounced around. SCI riffed on six songs to create a long and cohesive jam, including one of the band’s biggest hits, “Sirens.” To honor Colorado, the band closed out their golden set with an ode to their home state: “Colorado Bluebird Sky.” 

Closing Night

The Golden Incident was, of course, a tough act to follow on night three. Most jam band fans have nonetheless heard or uttered the phrase, “Never miss a Sunday set.” The closing night of SCI at Red Rocks stuck to this tradition of ending with a bang on Sunday night.

To open the stage, SCI brought another legendary act: Thievery Corporation. This electronic duo (backed by a full band for this performance) goes back to the mid-’90s. Thievery Corporation is one of the most famous names in the trip-hop genre. They unleashed the trippy instrumentation and verses for which the genre is known, getting the crowd moving with tracks like “Warning Shots.” 

All members of Theivery Corporation bow at the end of their performance
Thievery Corporation Takes a Bow

Following Thievery Corporation, SCI took the stage full of gratitude. To start, Nershi gave a speech praising the mellow Colorado weather and highlighting the fans who came to all five nights. Set one spanned a huge variety of materials. The band teased their forthcoming album Lend Me A Hand by debuting their new single written by Hollingsworth: “One More Time.” This first set featured extensive freestyle jams, ending on an amazing closer with “Tinder Box.” 

During the second set, the band honored longtime fans with a throwback performance of 1998’s “Restless Wind.” Set two also explored the band’s diverse inspirations, like their Indian folk tune, “Bhangra Saanj.” Beyond another stellar violin performance from Kang, this song was a masterclass in percussion. The audience was treated to a phenomenal drum kit performance by Michael Travis and fantastic bongo accompaniment by the band’s newest member, Jason Hann on auxiliary percussion. 

For the encore, SCI played two fan favorites. First, Nershi gave a touching solo performance of “Barstool.” Then, to end on a high note, the whole band joined to play their cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Shaking the Tree.” 

50 Historic Nights at Red Rocks

After this five-night Colorado run, The String Cheese Incident have officially collected a landmark achievement with 50 Red Rocks shows. The band’s legacy will not stop there, though. 

30 years after the formation of SCI, they still have new material in the works. On September 8th of this year, SCI will release its first studio album in over six years: Lend Me A Hand. This forthcoming music means more tours in the future and more live versions to be generated on stage. Even though Colorado fans were just treated to five nights of shows, we certainly cannot wait for them to return for more.

Photos by Mike Rampi

Find Artist On:




Recommended Posts