Editor’s note: The String Cheese Incident returns to the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino on its “March Madness 2016” tour on Thursday, March 10. To purchase tickets click the LINK. The String Cheese Incident was the last band to play in the Grand Theatre before it was remodeled. It will perform in the Grand Sierra Resort’s Summit Pavilion on March 10. See the review from the previous show below.
The last two shows to electrify the Grand Theatre before its remodel featured the String Cheese Incident.
It was magical.
The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino’s Jan. 23-24, 2015 shows were my first “incidents.” Having been to many Grateful Dead shows, I had an idea of what I was in store for. The crowd was an integral part of the evening. Unfortunately for me my media credential was compromised by the fact that I was not allowed to bring my camera.
So, as I sat in a sea of tie dye waiting for the entertainment to begin, the multicultural crowd began to filter into the theater. I found the parade of characters that make up the SCI audience to be as interesting and delightful as any I ever saw at a Dead show. You had mohawks, dreadlocks, sparkly hats, heels and flats. There were Giants fans and giant fans, tiny feathered hats and big floppy hats, furry boots and funky suits and even multicolored dreads and Grateful Dead threads. The entertainment had already begun.
The show kicked off to a rousing ovation with “Can’t Wait Another Day,” one of the few songs of theirs that I am familiar with. It starts off with some very good conga playing by Jason Hann. It really took no time at all for the crowd to be at full throttle. As I looked around the room it was amazing to see everybody almost in a state of bliss.
That, my friends, is great crowd control.
“Jam band” is a loosely defined genre that works for them. They jam! They play tunes I’m sure come out different with unique peaks and valleys every time they play them. Their songs are assembled in a structure that encourages the musicians to just run with it and take chances. There’s a lot of visual communication between the players to ensure they make changes in unison. As a way to enhance the overall experience, tons of money is poured into the visuals of the show. By that I mean the lighting was amazing. I’m not even going to try and describe it. Suffice it to say, it’s a tripper’s dream. You would have to be there to believe and understand it.
The first set: “Can’t Wait Another Day,” “So Far From Home,” “Johnny Cash,” “Look at Where We Are,” Water,” “Big Shoes,” “Mysterious Ways” and “Just One Story.”
They took a break after an hour and a half. This is usually where most bands call it a night, but not a jam band. This is where they are just getting warmed up! After about a 30 minute break they came back and started the second set with a SCI fan favorite “Shine,” with which they included a Casey Kasem-style dedication. This was a 16-minute jam with amazing organ work, percussion, and they even snuck in a very brief tribute to Lou Reed by doing some “do do doo’s’” (“Walk on The Wild Side”). This built up to an incredible climax that rolled right into “Bumpin’ Reel.”
The second set was packed with improvisation, and the mood was full party mode. Toward the end, they brought out two huge mirrored elephants that have been a part of the GSR’s backstage collection for years. To wrap it up before they left the stage they played another favorite and huge dance party song, “Rosie.” After leaving the stage long enough for everybody to get horse and tired from stomping and yelling, they came back for an incredible encore.
When they came back they announced that they had just been informed that after their shows the theater was going to be shut down for a remodel that included more seating that would come all the way to the stage (currently the front area of the theater has removable seating, which is left out for shows like this). That got jeers from the SCI crowd. They also shared that the giant mirrored elephants that they had brought to the stage had only been out on the stage about 40 years prior when Bill Graham had bought them. They closed the show with one of my favorite songs of all time, Peter Gabriel’s “Shaking The Tree.”
They’ve taken a genre of music made popular by the Grateful Dead and made it their own, carrying the torch of creativity into a new century for a whole new generation (and the old generation) of fans to appreciate. It’s good to see their efforts rewarded so generously by their fans.
The second set: “Shine,” “Bumpin’ Reel,” “Windy Mountain Sweet Spot,” “Way Back Home,” “Outside and Inside,” “Rosie,” Encore: “Shaking the Tree.”