With a wealth of live concerts under their belt since the late 90s it was nice to finally see The String Cheese Incident release an archival show a few years back entitled Rhythm of the Road Volume 1; a smoking complete performance from the Tabernacle in Atlanta from the winter of 2000. That was a fantastic release but fans have been left wondering if they were ever going to hear more. After a five year absence the band has treated fans with the offering of Rhythm of the Road Volume 2, this time showcasing a standout two-night run from the summer of 2001 which took place at The Aladdin Theater in Las Vegas.
The year two thousand one was pivotal for the band as they were moving out of the smaller clubs and had really locked into a consistent groove that not many other bands could match. They were also starting to show their funkier, dance-centric side while transitioning out of their mostly bluegrass background.
Though there were still moments during these shows that were straight picking and bluegrass, the jams that evening leaned heavily on flat-out funk. Maybe it was the Vegas vibe, or the fact that they got help from the horns of opening act Karl Denson and his Tiny Universe companion Andy Cleaves on songs like "Black and White" as well as the KC and The Sunshine Band cover "Get Down Tonight". Whatever the case, those concerts stand as some of the funkiest of that era.
As with every SCI performance there has always seemed to be an MVP of the run, when one band member steps up and directs the outcome of the evening. Though every band member was in a deep pocket and had their standout moments during those two shows, it can be argued that Michael Travis was the driving force behind these magnificent performances. His thumping beats must have had the Aladdin Theater shaking like crazy, and each member clearly fed off his anchored grooves.
This was evident on electric jams heard throughout "Come As You Are", "Got What He Wanted", "Dirk", "Howard", and a must-hear 20 minute take on "Turn This Around". Even amongst the blazing guitar solos by Michael Kang and Kyle Hollingsworth’s crusade of clavinet, it was still Travis that stood out the most.
Over the past 20+ years there have been few bands that have performed with such democracy, proficiency, and overall consistency as The String Cheese Incident and listening to Rhythm of the Road Volume 2 validates all of that. Fans should flock to this release as the sound production is pristine, and the compilation itself stands as one of the top performances of their peak years. Hopefully the band will be releasing more of these archived shows in the near future because so far they are a big 2-for-2, and a rabid fan base like theirs can never get enough vintage Cheese.