Rolling in around 6 p.m. from Highway 285, I saw the twin monoliths of Red Rocks from across the Morrison valley with traffic dotting the entire landscape like ants ready to invade a picnic basket. Obviously a lot of String Cheese fans had showed up early and were already tailgating in full force.
Within a quarter mile of the ticket will call office, traffic was bumper to bumper with carloads of people cheerfully waiting out the traffic jam chugging tall boys and passing pipes packed with the devil's cabbage. Maybe it was the contact high from the smoke wafting from all those Subarus, because in spite of the sweltering heat, there wasn't an ounce of frayed nerves or frustration to be found.
From then on, I might as well have been in a different country. Nearly everyone I met from the massive tailgate parking lot parties to the crowded stairs leading up to lower stage right was from somewhere else. And friendly. And mostly pretty hammered.
One thing I definitely noticed is that although jamband fans might be friendly, they are definitely territorial. Finding a seat anywhere close to the bottom of the general admission section was met with thinly veiled threats to find somewhere else to post up. So up to the top of the stairs I went into the upper decks of the general admission section where thankfully the crowd density eased up somewhat.
While most bands at the popularity level of String Cheese tend to hog the limelight with witless, inane banter between songs, String Cheese instead kept the focus squarely on the music. I for one appreciated how the band left it up to the intelligence of the audience to create their own personal experience from the night: No songs were explained or introduced, no "hey, Red Rocks how we doing out there tonight" blathering, or other gimmicky chit-chat to artificially stimulate the crowd.