The String Cheese Incident: Inside and Out (Relix Revisited)
String Cheese supports that need in their fans as well, encouraging fans to get involved as part of an incident, and to make each event unique. At past Fall Festival shows, they decorated venues with hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins to help set the mood. The band set up lasers at Red Rocks to heighten the intensity. Horning’s Hideout shows take things a step further. The band dresses in costumes while fans jump through flaming hoops and join in parades and other merriment that changes them from listeners to active, creative participants.
“Everyone out there has a spark of creative energy within them that is either fostered or dormant,” Kang says. “We will promote any opportunity we can to let people enjoy their own creativity.”
“Somebody once said to me, ‘The String Cheese Incident is the soundtrack to my life’ and I never forgot that,” recollects Moseley. “I really love that thought. . . Maybe we are the focal point that brings some of it together, but we are just the band that they go see. It is the community that is created around that—people coming together and sharing ideas and networking with each other, family and friends, doing their own art, whatever it might be. For us to be a catalyst, that is what I really get off on the most.”
Sometimes it gets scary
Outside the venue, the String Cheese soundtrack plays for the many fans who gather early and stay late. As the band grows, so does the scene surrounding them, forcing the band to keep a closer eye on the proceedings. They are all too aware of the pitfalls the Dead encountered with their traveling menagerie, i.e., hard drug use, venue destruction and a reputation that attracted police knowing they could make some busts. String Cheese remains hesitant to exert control over the scene, but feels a gentle nudge in the right direction can’t hurt. Their goal is to encourage an ambiance of creativity, peace and safety. This works for now, but as venue size increases, so will the challenges and that initial nudge may need to become a push. Though String Cheese currently keeps a discrete distance, even now their growing popularity requires a bit more intervention than anyone could have foreseen.
“I don’t think any of us really could have imagined it would grow to something like this,” says Moseley. “The cool part is we have had our hands in it from the beginning, growing the scene, tailoring and controlling the elements we do like, keeping the drug thing in check and running off the nitrous vendors and scalpers. We want people there who have something positive to contribute.”
“What we have going right now is very positive,” concurs Hollingsworth. “Sometimes it can get a little scary depending on what kind of drug use is going on. The positive part is that it is like a caravan or a traveling circus where you can go and sell your wares and get into shows. That was one of my favorite things about going to Dead shows. I want to encourage it.”
Core fans, many of whom are second generation Deadheads who’ve heard of their parents’ encounters on the Dead scene, help keep a handle on the scene’s growth. New faces may see the opportunity to make a buck, but a solid nucleus takes it upon themselves to curtail shady activities and even goes so far as to clean up each venue—inside and out—following a performance. Impressed promoters have been quick to welcome them back. The fans know they have found something in the String Cheese Incident worth protecting and are, as Barlow puts it, “thoughtlessly thoughtful,” in watching out for the band’s best interests. It is a reciprocal respect cherished by both the band and fans. As the band continues to grow, maintaining the current vibe will become increasingly difficult. But for now, the collective dynamic is alive and well.
A case in point is the May 2000 International Incident in Costa Rica. With 2,000 fans making the long journey, the band saw a chance to produce more than just a spectacle of sound and light in a tropical setting. So they arranged opportunities to learn about local issues threatening the rainforest. They contributed to a children’s rainforest preservation fund and donated a portion of their proceeds to a local school for a computer lab. Closer to home, String Cheese plays an annual benefit in Boulder, which in 2000 raised over $20,000 to buy food and clothing for Native American groups and families in need of assistance.
This year, String Cheese established Gouda Causes as their not-for-profit charitable arm. Still in its formative stages, Gouda Causes will probably funnel money into existing non-profit efforts in communities where the band plays. “This way,” Moseley explains. “we will have more of a direct impact on the causes we feel strongly about. It is somewhere we are hoping to exert some positive influence for years.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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