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MX Entertainment presents
The String Cheese Incident: Live at the Fillmore Auditorium (2003)

"Between pleasure and pain,
these waves...."

- lyric from "These Waves"

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: December 17, 2003

Stars: Kyle Hollingsworth, Michael Kang, Keith Moseley, Billy Nershi, Michael Travis
Other Stars: Bill Kreutzmann, Ricky Skaggs
Director: Zane Vella

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 03h:17m:00s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 060768835894
Genre: music

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-B+A+ B

DVD Review

I'll tell you right upfront that I'm more of a Ramones person, preferring songs that forsake any unnecessary musical noodling in favor of getting right down to it as quick as possible. I'm a pop guy at heart, I guess, and long rambling solos and gratuitous instrumentation have never really done much for me; while I can appreciate the skill of the musician, and the ability to improvise musically, I just never got a thrill from ten-minute songs that seemed to never end. In fact, solos of any kind (guitar, keyboard, drum, or even the dreaded bass solo) were always my least favorite part of any concert, and after experiencing the manic song-after-song adrenaline rush of my first Ramones show circa 1979, I really had a problem with any kind of extended or heavy-handed additional fretwork.

But enough about The Ramones, God bless 'em. The Grateful Dead were one of the undisputed kings of the laborious jam band genre, and their always unpredictable live shows would feature mind-numbingly extended renditions of their songs, and in recent years a whole new batch of neo-hippie/solo-heavy bands have worked to fill in the gaps left by the disintegrated Dead. Phish is probably one of the more well known of these post-Dead clones, with Colorado's The String Cheese Incident falling into the same camp. This performance, recorded March 23, 2002 at Denver's Fillmore Auditorium, is a loooong, musically diverse travelogue, with an odd blend of bluegrass, jazz, and rock that becomes an everybody-does-a-solo-on-every-song lover's dream concert.

I'll admit I'm not really a fan of The String Cheese Incident style of music as a whole, but I'd be goofy if I didn't at least acknowledge the band's apparent musical talent. The alternating vocals of Bill Nershi and Michael Kang have that gentle, lilting stoner quality, channeling up visions of the Dead's Bob Weir. You can tell from this concert disc that the band is very into their jam persona, because there's plenty of soulful head bobbing during the often interminable soloing.

As much as I dislike dizzying solo after solo, it's pretty obvious that The String Cheese Incident is a pretty tight and musically connected outfit, though most of their overinflated riffing does seem to go on forever. Ricky Skaggs and Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann pop in for a song or two, lending a bit of credence,not just to their vague bluegrass roots, but their musical link to that whole style of music/culture that Jerry Garcia and his cohorts helped establish and thrive upon.

Set List

Disc One:
Cedar Laurels
LostNine Pound Hammer
Hold Watcha Got
Foggy Mountain Breakdown
These Waves
Don't Say (Reprise)
Flying West Jam

Disc Two:
Rhythm of the Road
White Freightliner Blues
Emma's Dream
Miss Brown's Teahouse
Land's End
Big Graham Jam
Glory Chords Jam
Restless Winds

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Reproducing concert lighting accurately on DVD is rarely an easy task when it comes to the image transfer, but this 1.85:1 nonanamorphic widescreen print handles the rough spots well. Stage lighting on the performers tends to be on the dark side, but overall detail is sharp, and even under weird red or blue lights. No apparent compression issues, no haloing or edge enhancement, to say nothing of no evidence of nicks, flaws or other detritus could be found.


Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Well, I may not like the music much, but the audio transfer sure sounds outstanding. The DTS and 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks don't differ a whole heck of a lot, and they both deliver truly impressive clarity and separation. As usual, the DTS track tends to sound a shade deeper and fuller, and earns a slight advantage over the 5.1 track. On both, the rear channels get a heady mix of audience applause and instrumentation. Hate those solos, but this could easily be one of the best sounding concert discs I have ever heard. Really.

Light the incense and crank it.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 22 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Waiting For The Snow To Fall
15 Multiple Angles with remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Gladiator style 2-pack
Picture Disc
2 Discs
2-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Disc One contains bonus footage from what's billed as the Red Lady Ball concert (09m:05s) from May 2002, and the band does a long-winded but spirited version of Lonesome Road Blues. What makes this more odd is the women's clothing they all wear, but based on the crowd reaction everyone seemed to have had a smoking good time.

Both discs feature the MX Multiangle option (a total of fifteen times across both sets). The multi-angle thing rarely has worked for me on other releases, but this time around it worked just fine. I was effortlessly able to isolate certain members of the band and watch them play the same song for a really long time, all while bobbing their heads with their eyes closed.

There is also a trailer for The String Cheese Incident's Waiting For the Snow to Fall DVD, as well as brief text bios on Ricky Skaggs and Bill Kreutzmann.

Each disc is cut into eleven chapters, one per song.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

If you're into long-winded solos and genuine tie-dyed goodness, the elongated musical stylings of Colorado's The String Cheese Incident should touch a nerve and make you feel appropriately groovy.

What makes this two-disc set from MX worth a listen is the truly incredible sounding DTS track found here. Now that is something.


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