The String Cheese Incident, 11/26/11- Fox Theater, Atlanta
String Cheese Incident is one of those bands that have the ability to transpose one to another place and time. Friends have asked, “Who is String Cheese? What do they sound like? Describing SCI in a few words is near impossible. Their sounds are so diverse that they are essentially 10 bands in one. They are the true crowd-pleaser. They perform genres of music that can be enjoyed by music lovers of a diverse range of tastes. Love bluegrass? SCI’s got you covered. Rock n’ Roll? You’ll hear it. Rhythm and blues? You bet. Funk? Dubstep? Psychedelic rock? Check, check, check.
SCI’s sold-out show at the Fox Theater in Atlanta over Thanksgiving weekend was the second stop on the band’s “Roots Run Deep” tour. Entering the venue, fans were welcomed by a flood of energy and excitement that always comes before a highly anticipated show. Colorful costumes of feathers, sequins, and tye-dye packed the entrance hallway as old friends reunited and strangers exchanged pleasantries. Hoots and howls broke out over the chatter that eventually assembled into one ear-piercing cheer.
One extravagantly dressed character wearing pink tights planted stickers on his neighbors that read ‘Turn up your awesome!’ This Cheese enthusiast, face plastered in glitter of ever color, basked in the glory of his own creativity. Each time he knighted a nearby fan, he broke out in a celebratory dance, screaming out his slogan over the rambunctious crowd.
For Cheese-heads, a 4-night run in the Southeast was a long time coming. Their first appearance in Atlanta since 2006, Saturday’s show was a first for many natives. Unsurprisingly, others traveled great distances, some as far as Texas and Louisiana. No matter the number of times their fans had seen them, there was an overwhelming consensus that this wouldn’t be their last show.
As the six-piece band took the stage among impressive LED towers and a giant LED screen, it was evident that this performance would be nothing short of extraordinary. Opening with “Restless Wind,” the band easily got the crowd’s feet and hips moving. Fans showed their appreciation of a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie on Reggae Woman” with screams and cat calls. A long first set was closed with the improvisational rock ‘n’ roll sounds of “Shine,” captivating the audience entirely.
In a little over an hour, SCI had already taken its fans on a musical journey, but it was only halfway over. Some stood frozen with awe as the band left the stage that included six impressive LED towers, while others were frenzied with excitement for another mind-blowing set. Silliness and laughter filled the hallways and bathrooms of the spaciously luxurious Fox Theater during set break.
The band paid tribute to its Georgia crowd with a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Southbound” to open the second set. “Desert Dawn” followed, keeping the energy high and spirits alive. Highlights of the second set included the reggae sounds of “Sirens,” and SCI favorite “Jellyfish.” The electronic sounds of “Bumpin Reel” brought the crowd into a trance, led by the smooth violin riffs of Michael Kang. The band closed the second set with “It Is What It Is.”
After a brief break, the band returned to the stage for a smashing encore of the string-loving “Rolling in My Sweet Baby’s Arms.” The crowd begged and screamed for one more and received “Way Back Home” as a send off. SCI left the stage amidst overwhelming cheers and celebratory high-fives as Bill Nershi tempted fans to repeat the experience: “See you in Athens tomorrow night!”
Exiting the Fox Theater amongst throngs of animated fans, one first-time Cheese-goer said it best: “This shit is worth following.”
I: Restless Wind, 100 Year Flood > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Barstool, Colliding, Miss Brown’s Teahouse > Shine
II: Southbound, Desert Dawn, Sirens > Bumpin’ Reel, Way That It Goes, Jellyfish, It Is What It Is
Encore: Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, Way Back Home