The String Cheese Incident

On the Road: 04-16-02 Columbus, OH

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The Columbus folks are some of the more insane String Cheese Incident fans around. Their town may be small, but their fierceness for great music (as well as the Ohio State Buckeyes) -- and especially this band -- is near legendary. This show, part of SCI's bound-to-be-nearly-mythical-in-scope 19 triple-CD packages documenting their April 2002 tour, is a fine one indeed, and made more so by audience enthusiasm. Usually, it's worthwhile to write about these sets on a disc-by-disc basis, but this one needs to be reviewed as a whole in the sense that it is impossible to separate the fibers in this show's documentation. While SCI play no more covers than usual, it's the ones they chose for this show that are important: the Beatles' "Taxman," Peter Rowan's "Midnight Moonlight," and a version of Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" that rivals the original for musical integrity and vision. The band is clearly buoyed by the crowd's devotion, and they dig a little deeper -- which is saying a lot since this band always digs deep. On top of the covers, the sheer sense of adventure they show on tracks such as "Rhythm of the Road," "Emma's Dream," "Climb," "Weary Homesick Blues," and the truly stunning "Born on the Wrong Planet" are nearly overwhelming in their emotion and sheer musical invention. And, if all this is isn't enough to send the punter home packing with blissful smiles on their patchouli-stained faces, the execution of "'Round The Wheel" that closes the show is a heart-stopper. Really and truly, this band offers so much on any given night it's a wonder they aren't the biggest band in the world. Once upon a time, a very fine group called War was alternately known as "The Music Band." String Cheese Incident should be known as "The Music Universe," because with shows like this as evidence, no one else is even in that league.

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