Kyle Hollingsworth Band
August 20, 2016
The Bridge, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Writer/Photographer: Jake Cudek
The Kyle Hollingsworth Band rolled through Santa Fe on Saturday night as part of two- night mini-tour of New Mexico breweries. The Bridge, owned and operated by The Santa Fe Brewing Company, was the venue for night two of this jaunt. For those familiar with the man and his band, excitement was twofold: a visit from one of the long standing members of The String Cheese Incident and the promise of bringing out some of his new compositions produced at the recently founded SCI lab.
Arriving an hour before doors opened, threatening thunderheads could be seen to the south, and everyone wondered if the weather would hold for the night. Whether because of the potential for rain or the lax motivations of Santa Fe residents, it was apparent that this was not going to be a sold out show. The outdoor venue with the capacity to occupy 1000 people had a mere 100 people.
Although this would have diminished a typical band and a typical audience, those who had shown up had arrived to celebrate a visit from one of their favorites, and let the band know their intent wholeheartedly as they took the stage.
The band took heed and reciprocated with a single set performance that never let up and sounded fresh and invigorated from tune to tune. The set was a mix of numbers from each of Kyle’s three albums, songs performed with SCI and a few covers.
The band kicked off the set with an instrumental version of The Beatles’ “Taxman.” This pulled the audience in from the start, as many in the crowd could be heard singing the more familiar lines. The band collected its dues from the audience and showed no signs of being deterred by the low attendance and instead pushed every aspect of the tune and their instruments.
Up next was “Here We Go,” this song is an automatic smile inducer. Its calypso style bypasses the brain and heads straight to the feet getting them moving and then moves back to the face producing elated beams both on stage and the dance floor.
The first sandwich of the night came wrapped in the form of “Too Young” with a tasty “Will It Go ‘Round in Circles” center. The segues into and out of Billy Preston’s “Circles” were spot on and well-rehearsed, turning on a dime rather than leading into or out by way of musical meanderings. “I can’t win if that’s all I’m gonna do” the resounding lyric of “Too Young,” connected in perfect juxtaposition to the lyrical context of “Circles,” illustrating the repetitive interpretations of experience and the reminding need to change up personal status quo thinking.
“Pack It Up,” with its distinctive bass intro came next. Although a staple of SCI performances since 2005, this instrumental tune penned by Hollingsworth has only appeared on KH’s latest album, “Speed of Life.” This was received with excitement, as those who were there were certainly cut from the Cheesecloth. Its odd timings reinforced this notion, as many jigged with familiarity to the tune. At its finish, Kyle continued the same driving feel and segued into “All Falls Apart,” cycling between drenching organ solos and piano rifts that continued to lift the feet of the flailing cooperatives.
A new concoction produced in the SCI lab, “Let Me In” intoxicated the crowd with its soul-funky groove, and continued to contribute to the intimate experience elating many well acquainted with his catalog by this unveiling in the live setting.
“Can’t Wait Another Day” came up next and held a surprise that no one expected. As the tune stepped into decline, the distinct chords of “Terrapin Station” rose from the ashes. As the portion played was the instrumental section of the suite gave way to each of the members hitting the structure with force. Of exceptional note were the heavy bass bombs that got the crowd calling out as the vibration rolled over the crowd in seismic waves.
In Spanish, the term Peregrino refers to something being unusual, odd, and migratory. This epitomizes this Latin flavored tune as it contained a spacy, ethereal quality surrounding a structured root and deviates between throughout its entirety. Both dynamics were presented and continued the dance fest that had been non-stop over the past 90 minutes.
Viewing the onstage set list, this song was to be the end of the first set. Instead, the band abandoned that notion and labored on with the thick grooves of “Let’s Go Outside.” It was apparent that neither the band nor the patrons were showing any signs of fatigue and both continued in merriment. As the song structure loosened into a jam, a familiar chord structure arose and led into a full version of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.” As another popular cover, the crowd began to sing the backup sections of the song. Hollingsworth took notice and called out to the crowd, encouraging them to play the role of backup singer. This invitation inspired the crowd to take it up a level and where there was once bashfulness, there now was a full on sing along of all parts.
“Tumbling,” another new song made in the SCI lab was preceded by the story that inspired the piece. Hollingsworth spoke of a trip to a Grateful Dead show at Three Rivers Stadium in Pennsylvania. This bouncy unit told the story of summer love and the laid back experience that preceded impending Dead shows of yore.
“World Girl” brought out her funky, disco infused moves and the crowd took her hand and worked it. Smiling, spinning, and giggling, the crowd swirled in this dance number.
The light rock tune “So Fine” was the bookends to the second sandwich of the evening and was filled with Hollingsworth’s admitted favorite cereal “Lucky Charms.” Shifting from uplifting light lyrics and progressions, this new song eventually gave way to the crunchy funk of the popular breakfast cereal which had the band and audience coming back for seconds and thirds. The tune kept building and residing back to its head giving each band member the opportunity to jump right into the bowl.
“Happening Now” with a poppy almost 80’s theme bordered on electronica and reinvigorated many in the crowd to keep their participation going. Although this one motivated the younger attendees well acquainted with attributes of EDM, it was refreshing to see the older component spinning with abandon seemingly recapturing some part of the inner child.
The final three punch closer of the set left no step undanced. Beginning with the slow rising and spacious “Falling Through the Cracks,” the music’s crescendo gave way to Lionel Ritchie’s “All Night Long,” again getting the participants involved in both movement and accompaniment. Taking to the bridge the band began playing double time and eventually moved onto the last lady of the night, “Rosie.” Immediately, the recognition of this number was apparent and was especially exuded by the female faction in attendance. The crowd danced and called out the lyrics as if this was the first song, not the last, and the band rewarded by playing a full and exhausted version devoid of any brevity.
The band left the stage and stood together in the wings, huddled as in conference, but more likely taking the opportunity to catch their breath and composure, having laid down an unbroken set clocking in at just under two and half hours.
Recuperation gained, the band returned for the encore, “The Way That It Goes.” Giving every last drop in the tank the band brought it in full force again and the crowd met them note for note.
As the threat of thunderstorms had resided behind the band for most of the night, it seemed that the music gods had enjoyed the show as much as the mortals. As the final note of the song came to its end through the PA system, like cosmic clockwork, the sky opened up and a deluge of rain sent both musician and listener running for cover.
Hollingsworth’s style, both in construction and execution, is infectious and literally brings a smile to the face. It easy to tell that he loves what he does and when he sits down to write his material, the notions and movements come from a personal level of trying to raise his own virtue and that of the listener. The band is well rehearsed and attentive to every shift and run at a pace that is equal to one another, including the bandleader. This equality carries over to the joy expressed both facially and emotionally by each member and their auditory accomplishments. Paul McDaniels is the unassuming bass man who digs deep and lays down both structure and improvisation with an unforced demeanor. Brian McRae, the counterpart on rhythm, is notably a blur throughout his performance. His mixture of exclusive cymbal and tom work draws in the attention and his consistent ability to shift makes him a perfect fit to the musicality of this band. Dan Schwindt, known as “Schwindt-Rock” to those close to him, is one of those guys you could pass on the street and never know his extent for burning down the house. His ability to play a moving section in one song and then melt the faces of those around him in the next makes this man more myth than minstrel. The combination of these gentlemen is something not to be missed.