Let Your Love Light Shine: SCI NYE ’14-’15
15 Jan 2015

The Author

Profile photo of Abby Benjamin
Soulful Scorpio always chasing the next adventure in the outside world and within.



It’s that time of year again when I find myself headed to the 1st Bank Center. Located in Broomfield, CO about halfway between Denver and Boulder, this enormous venue is in the middle of nowhere. The only other establishments around are a few scattered hotels that host mostly concert-goers. I’ve only made the trek to 1st Bank Center for The String Cheese Incident and The Disco Biscuits, so my handful of memories are definitely eclectic.

Anticipation had been building for weeks, so I was thrilled to gather at Quixotes True Blue (local Grateful Dead bar) in central Denver to catch the bus on the 29th. Quixotes provides transportation for $20 to most major shows that are a bit out of town such as SCI NYE, Phish at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and Red Rocks shows over the summer. It’s a great way to have a sober, cheap, and reliable ride to the show.

You could feel the excitement in the air as the bus pulled up to the venue. Broomfield got a lot of snow that day, but that didn’t discourage any SCI fans. The weather actually provided an added sense of community; because, we had all braved the weather to be there that night. SCI thanked us, too, by starting off the 3 night run with “Round the Wheel”, a beautiful crowd favorite with the opening line, “I’ve been waiting for the snow to fall…” They came rambling into a funky “Sirens” IMG_1221before busting out a very rare “These Waves”. I had never heard this song before – it was
absolutely gorgeous. After doing a little research I found out that they have only played it twenty-nine times in their entire career as a band – this was truly a special occasion! The energy stayed high with a fun “Djibouti Bump” into a dreamy “Bumpin’ Reel”. We swerved with the classic “Outside and Inside” that went into the powerhouse “Dirk”. Next up was the first cover of the run, “Get Down On It” by Kool & the Gang before coming back into “Dirk” to close the set. They definitely left us buzzing and ready for more!

You could feel the love as they opened second set with “Colliding”, a song that always reminds me that we are one. Next came the foot-stompin’ “So Far From Home” before Kang began shredding on the fiddle into “Wheel Hoss”. They slowed it down with “Until the Music’s Over,” which went into one of my favorite hypnotic SCI jams “It Is What It Is”. We blasted off with “You’ve Got the World” – a newer song they’ve put into rotation in the past year. You could hear the audience singing along joyfully to the thought-provoking “Looking Glass”.  As a huge disco ball lowered and illuminated the crowd, Kyle led us into “Disco Ball Jam” which started with the keys before fading into a slow, melodic, breezy sound. They pulled our heart strings with “Shine” before encoring with “Beautiful” – another new song. They started this NYE run with a bang! This night left me with feelings of gratitude for SCI, the SCI family, and my well being and capability to experience such an incredible band and community.

The second night brought with it even more excitement. As we arrived, the halls were filled with performers on stilts providing amazing pre-entertainment. I hung out by a group of performers in beautiful tie-dye outfits who were playing the bongos and hooping on stilts (I captured a video you can check out on our Instagram: sparkleberrylane). They definitely got us jazzed for the next round of Cheesey magic. We made our way into the venue just in time for them to kick it off with a “Best Feeling” into a heart-warming “Restless Wind”. I could tell from this intro that we were in for another amazing night. We shook our hips to “Betray the Dark” before Kang stepped up to the mic to tell us that on this run they wanted to play some songs that they hadn’t played in a while. I think this is a great way to keep live shows fresh and to play songs that newer IMG_1249fans probably haven’t heard. With that, they played “45th of November” – a song that Kyle wrote with Robert Hunter that they haven’t played since 2007 at Red Rocks! It was a fun ballad with a hard rock ending. From there they laid down a reggae beat into “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” (Stevie Wonder)– a fun, light-hearted song that features Jason on lead vocals. Jason and Michael followed up with an amazing 3-minute drum solo that transitioned gracefully into the crowd-pleasing “Joyful Sound”.  An otherworldly jam labeled “Of Floydian Persuasion” came next which likely got it’s name from the incredible “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (Pink Floyd) tease.  They closed out the first set with the always fun “Texas”.

Billy welcomed us back for the second set with, “We had a fun first set there – it was kinda like the 4th of July when you have all the fireworks in a bag and you drop a match into it and everything starts shooting different directions…that was the first set for me…it’s exciting you don’t know what’s going to happen next…” I definitely felt that way too; Billy never fails to entertain! Keith let us know that they were celebrating 21 years together as a band that weekend, and thanked us all for being a part of it. The love and warmth coming from stage and the audience was tangible – it was a special feeling that couldn’t be replicated. The second set started on an earthy note with “Valley of the Jig”. Highlights included “Howard”, “Close Your Eyes”, and a tribute to the birthplace of the band, “Colorado Bluebird Sky”. The encore got funky with a “Freedom Jazz Dance” that had everyone grooving.

Once it began to fade out, Jason started on the bongos and Billy began to tell us a story about a trip he took to Moab with Sean McNamara. They drank some mushroom tea and hiked way down into Salt Creek by Indian Creek. They kept going down until they got to America Man, one of the most incredible Anasazi paintings. They camped out that night, got up the next day, and hiked into the canyon. They got to a cave, and as they walked inside on the roof of the cave they saw the place where the Anasazi put white paint in their mouths and sprayed it out like an airbrush around the hands of all the people in their families. When Billy got back from the trip, he wrote the song “Little Hands” about the Anasazi and the hands on the roof of the cave. The crowd swayed as we finished the night with this enchanting song.


My heart swelled as we arrived on New Years Eve for the third and final night. You could sense everyone’s anticipation as well as the eminent shift from 2014 to 2015. Tonight was the night to let go of the past and embrace the future. More performers greeted us as we walked in, they brought “rainbow holographic circus” to my mind. Their costumes were absolutely stunning – they took you to another plane of consciousness just by looking at them. This time when I entered the venue I noticed the huge flower installation built on the ceiling in the middle of the dance floor. As you looked up and stood beneath it, you were the center of the flower and the petals surrounded you. I foresaw this flower doing some magical things when the time came. SCI started right on time and dove in with “Black Clouds” to set the night off. Keith’s bass introduced the light-hearted “Smile” before we got groovy with “Let’s Go Outside”. Kyle jammed into “Sweet Spot” – a song for all the lovers which they have frequented a lot this year. The fluid “Water” had us all swimming, and they broke it down with a psychedelic version of “Kinky Reggae”. The room got spacey with “Zim’s Jam,” and “On the Road” left us on a high note as they wrapped up the first of three sets.

We stayed lifted as they came back with “Can’t Wait Another Day”, “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” and “Desert Dawn” before slowing it down with “I’m Still Here”. The drums led into the beautiful vocal harmonies of “Way Back Home,” which transitioned into “Fool in the Rain” (Led Zeppelin) and back into “Way Back Home”. We got a smooth, down tempo “Jellyfish” and came right back up the mountaintop to finish “Desert Dawn” and end the set. Friends dispersed slowly to fill up water, give hugs, and find our perfect spot for the 3rd and final set. We nestled in on the floor a little more than half way back so we had plenty of room to boogie.

With smiles for miles, we bounced to “Don’t it Make You Wanna Dance” and came back down to earth for a soft “Land’s End”. As we looked up, there were huge glowing color-changing cocoons. From within the cocoons came beautiful human butterflies with gorgeous delicate wings (see video here). Without looking at the time, I could feel the end of 2014 getting closer and closer. They kept the anticipation high with “Big Graham Jam” and as we approached 2015 they began “Glory Chords”. The huge flower installation lit up and changed brilliant colors as SCI took us on a journey as the year began to change. As you looked ahead there was a happy dancing dinosaur putting a smile on our face and as you looked up the butterflies returned and flapped their silky wings. As the moment came thousands of balloons fell and confetti filled the air. I looked around Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 3.37.40 PMand everyone was a friend – it felt so good.

The crowd roared as they wrapped up “Glory Chords” and officially welcomed us into 2015. I’m not sure how they do it, but SCI always seems to make me love songs that I once thought were outdated and cheesy, no pun intended. For example, I have heard the song “Thriller” (Michael Jackson) so many times that I roll my eyes when it comes on. At Hulaween this year, SCI played “Thriller” on Halloween and I absolutely loved their interpretation of it. This same phenomena happened the first few minutes of 2015 when SCI played “Celebration” (Kool & the Gang). They made it so good and fresh while maintaining the essence of the song – celebrate and have a good time! They kept the party going with “Rosie” and “Late In The Evening” and eased into an ethereal “Rivertrance”. They brought it home with “This Must Be The Place” (Talking Heads) and it seemed only right to end the last set of the run with “Just One Story” which sparked me to reflect upon the magic and wonder that we had all experienced over the past three days.

We cheered them back on for the bittersweet final encore. “Bollymunster” shook the house and I shed tears of happiness to hear “Good Times Round the Bend”. This final song left us with a beautiful message to take into 2015: “Rollercoasters gotta roll to the bottom, if you wanna climb to the top again”. Thank you sun for shining and moon for glowing. Thank you stars in the sky. Thank you String Cheese for never failing to lift my spirits and for reminding me of life’s true simplicity and perfection. Thank you String Cheese family for the hugs, smiles, and unconditional love. Happy New Year everyone!


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