The String Cheese Incident
The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA • March 20th, 1999
On March 20th, the String Cheese Incident culminated its Winter Carnival Tour with the last of a three-night run at San Francisco’s legendary venue, the Fillmore. Having already treated the sold-out house to surprise guests (including Vince Welnick and Merl Saunders) and choice covers (among them “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” “Iko, Iko,” and “Jingoba”), the Colorado-based quintet clearly aspired towards an unforgettable grand finale.
With the Fillmore’s interior decorated to a “Spring Cheese” motif, a festive mood gained momentum as showtime approached. After the lights dimmed, the band took the stage and moved easily into a slow, mesmerizing jam as a spring parade entered the auditorium. Making its way through the audience, the parade featured an amazing neon butterfly which fluttered in vibrant colors behind glitter-tossing fairies. With the room abuzz with excitement, the band embarked upon the first of three sets.
Showcasing its penchant for diversity, String Cheese made easy transitions among genres, including bluegrass, jazz, island, and improvisational rock. Meanwhile, an inspired crowd danced enthusiastically to the unpredictable flow of music.
After a short break, the band took the stage wearing flower garlands. Treating the audience to a rare acoustic set, the band’s virtuosity sparkled. While Michael Travis’ percussion and Keith Moseley’s bass dictated the music’s tempo, Michael Kang (mandolin/violin), Kyle Hollingsworth (keyboards), and Bill Nershi (guitar) took turns exploring the reaches of improvisation.
Next, the band plugged in for one last set to close out the tour. With the audience poised for more foot stomping action, the energy level in the room skyrocketed as the music began. The positive vibes which draw fans back night after night consumed the room. In short, the evening was typical of Incidents, where the band and the audience share the responsibility and reward of creating a magical experience.
Finally, the night wound down to an end as the band came out for an especially long encore. As the audience applauded to a wonderful effort, the five piece ensemble graciously thanked their loyal following before exiting. However, the stubborn audience coaxed the band out for a second encore. Filling a delighted crowd’s ears with a few more melodies before spring tour, the String Cheese Incident reminded all in attendance of why they are such a special band.