The String Cheese Incident

On the Road: 04-17-02 Louisville, KY

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On the evening that String Cheese Incident played Louisville, they were coming off a wild and wooly night in Columbus, OH, where the audience pushed the limit, though they got an amazing performance for their mischievous efforts. It's obvious from the proceedings that the band wasn't looking for the same experience here, and they concentrated on the inventive, searching aspect of their presentation. What that means in English is that these cats were willing to take chances on music, big ones, but not on their "showmanship." It works big time, as this is one of the most varied and musically satisfying gigs on the tour, full of tremendous precision, near symbiotic timing on the part of the rhythm section, and melodic and spatial invention in improvisation. With tracks like "Mouna Bowa," with its reckless country swing, and the triple threat "Down the Line," "Black and White," and the drivingly infectious "Latinissimo" opening a set, let alone an entire evening, it's obvious that SCI were going deeper, though they were going to take their time getting there. Disc one is rounded out by "Hotel Window," "Land's End," "Cardinal's Jam," and a fine rave-up version of Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." The second disc reveals the strange route the band took to the planetary systems with a handful of short tunes covering both sides of the local jam, called "KY jam" here. The detail, execution, and focus on details that are not usually paid such fierce attention to in live settings by virtually anybody are looked after here with a straight-edge ruler. The amazing thing is how much freedom SCI finds inside the margins on these tracks. The final disc in the set, which opens with a defining version of "Missing Me" and mutates into "Outside and Inside," is one of the places where the band waves back from space looking at musical interaction as a thing of both instinct and abstraction. They round it off with a deep and funky version of "Freedom Jazz Dance" before cutting out with a tidy version of "Search" that ties up all the loose ends in the evening. This one would have been a lot of fun to see because it showcases all the concentration and none of the pathos.

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