Sayreville lacked the cheesesteak fame and culture of a hub like Philadelphia, so instead of surfing the streets I opted to nap before the show. I would need it anyhow.
The stage glowed a rich blue when we entered the venue (I had never visited the small Starland Ballroom in Sayreville). Cheese skipped the 8pm start time that has been standard for this tour as the room grew rich with excitement. When the band came out, Kyle addressed the intimacy of the room with great joy before Nershi kicked things off with the bluegrass number “Don’t You Wanna Dance.” Once it flowed in to “Dudley’s Kitchen,” it was clear we were in for a special show.
The band was on last night. If the setlist doesn’t show that much, the smiles on the band’s face certainly did. They ate up the room’s massive energy, but the slam-packed crowd gave it right back. It was a wicked awesome cycle that would last the entire show.
The “Sweet Melinda,” “Stay Through,” and “Freedom Jazz Dance,” that made up the meat of the set thrilled the audience. The former and latter involved some really sweet Hollingsworth/Kang jams, while “Stay Through” allowed Kang to engage the audience with a lesser-played reggae/R&B hybrid off the new album Song In My Head. The “One Step Closer” segueing in to “Round The Wheel” proved as good of a set-closer as any, and a sheer exuberance overtook the room during the rhythm-based dance parts of “RTW.”
Set two didn’t let up the gas; not even a bit. “Water” was a fine sing along that jammed in to elements of Pink Floyd’s classic “Another Brick In The Wall” before going in to “Bumpin’ Reel.” “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” was the rare gem of the set, but the finale would display some of the band’s finest jamming of 2014.
“Piece of Mine” > Drums > “Best Feeling” > “Know You Rider” was an absolute firecracker! The fans could hardly handle it as Nershi & the gang sang the words the Grateful Dead made famous. Sheer excitement overcame everyone as we had ourselves a little hoedown in that ballroom in Jersey. But the band wasn’t done yet.
Busting out not one, but two songs in the encore was a power move. Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Don’t Let Go” and an “Eminence Front” sandwiched in between “Let’s Go Outside” is an impeccable way to end such a fire show. The spirits in that room, both on and off stage, were of the highest level. The String Cheese Incident has found quite a stride throughout the first week of their 2014 fall tour. This week hosts an intimate, live-streamed incident in Ithaca, NY, then two big shows at Port Chester’s Capitol Theater before moving to Portland, ME and Burlington, VT.
11/08/2014 STARLAND BALLROOM, SAYREVILLE, NJSet One Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance > Dudley’s Kitchen, Sweet Melinda, Stay Through, Freedom Jazz Dance, Beautiful, One Step Closer > ‘Round The WheelSet Two You’ve Got The World, Water > Another Brick In The Wall >Bumpin’ Reel, Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, Piece of Mine > Drums > Best Feeling > I Know You RiderEncore Don’t Let Go, Let’s Go Outside > Eminence Front > Let’s Go Outside