February 28, 2007
When I arrived to check out EOTO – brain child of String Cheese Incident’s rhythm duo Michael Travis and Jason Hann, I parked my car and rounded the corner to find flashing blue lights and bar management out front. I grabbed a beer and stood near the side of the room, and Travis walked by.
He raised his eyebrows at me, and I responded with one of those "I recognize you" nods. He continued to pass, and said something to the effect of "crazy stuff, huh?" I responded, "what’s going on?"
Apparently, as Travis explains, two guys got into a bar fight, and were immediately tossed out. On the way out, one of them threatens to come back by and shoot the place up. The bar isn’t exactly in the hood. It’s in a fairly populated area that college students frequent. Of all the unsafe places in Memphis, this certainly isn’t one of them.
Well, they weren’t making an idle threat.
Maybe an hour later, in full-on Boyz in the Hood style, they made good on that threat, and fired three shots at the bar – one high into the window, one into the side of an SUV parked right out front, and one that wasn’t found.
As my jaw hit the floor, Travis thanked me for coming out.
He left me with "If you hear something, duck."
Needless to say, this backed the show time up considerably, but management did a great job of handling the somewhat tense situation, and the boys from String Cheese, ever the consummate professionals, came on stage and put on a great show.
EOTO gives fans a bit of a different taste than SCI brings (or brought, as the case may be) to the table. Instead of behind the kit, Travis takes his place with a guitar, bass, keyboards and various other toys. Hann does take the spot behind the drum kit.
In the mold of Travis’ Zilla, these shows are completely improvised. They play without set list or script. There’s beats-a-plenty and looping.
I never quite understood the drum solo. Drummers in touring bands generally work harder and sweat more than the others, and a drum solo basically gives the other guys a rest while the mule is beaten some more. Granted, I get that it gives those sometimes overlooked a chance to shine, but sometimes it doesn’t make sense.
At any rate, Hann was an animal. I’m not exactly sure how long it went on, but they played without stopping, and as Travis hopped all over the place, playing this and playing with that, Hann went at the drum kit with reckless abandon, pounding out some great beats.
EOTO may not be for everyone. Those who knew what to expect when they walked in undoubtedly went home happy – there were plenty of dancing feet during the show.
However, those who showed up expecting anything like SCI probably left disappointed.
At least they now have their Memphis drive-by-shooting story to tell their grandchildren.
photos by Josh Mintz / photosbyjosh.com