Ciera Catalano, left, and Becki Woythal, both University of Colorado juniors, show their excitement during a free String Cheese Incident concert Monday
Ciera Catalano, left, and Becki Woythal, both University of Colorado juniors, show their excitement during a free String Cheese Incident concert Monday evening on University Hill in Boulder. For more photos and video of the concert, visit dailycamera.com. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)

Approaching University Hill on Monday evening, two things were evident: the smell of weed and the sounds of The String Cheese Incident.

The Boulder-bred jam band's free two-hour show at the intersection of 13th Street and College Avenue — announced just two weeks ago — took over the Hill on Monday evening as hundreds of fans spilled onto the surrounding streets.

The band was celebrating the release of its first studio album in nearly a decade, Song in My Head.

"We wanted to do something fun in our home state," bassist Keith Moseley wrote in an email a couple hours before the Boulder performance. "Since we are not playing Red Rocks this summer, we wanted to play for our local family. It was also important to support the Hill and the local businesses."

Billy Nershi, left, jams on guitar while playing with The String Cheese Incident during a free concert on Boulder’s University Hill on Monday.
Billy Nershi, left, jams on guitar while playing with The String Cheese Incident during a free concert on Boulder's University Hill on Monday. (Jeremy Papasso / Daily Camera)

Boulder police were active at the scene, making one warrant arrest, investigating an assault and issuing 11 alcohol tickets and one for marijuana. Four people were hospitalized for intoxication.

Monday's concert set up the Hill as a scene of magnified Boulder culture.

While String Cheese jammed, men and women on the outskirts of the crowd hula-hooped and a cloud of smoke hovered closer to the stage.

One man practiced yoga in the street in front of Cheba Hut, just moments before someone hurdled dozens of sticks of string cheese into the nearby crowd.

Ira Jackson came all the way from String Cheese Incident's partial hometown, Crested Butte. He's a longtime fan, but the Free Incident, as the show was branded, was his first show.

"I think it should be more of a common thing, to get a group of people like this to hang out and be as one," Jackson said. "I don't know why you'd be doing music if you don't want to bring people together."

Emily Rogers also traveled to catch the show. When the Breckenridge resident learned about the album-release concert last week, there was no question about attending.

"I mean, it's free String Cheese Incident," she said. "How can you beat it?"

Both Rogers and Jackson are excited for Song in My Head, which was available at the show and will be officially released Tuesday.

As for the band, they're reinvigorated by the new record.

"It's been a while. We feel reenergized and in a good space, creatively," Moseley wrote. "We've been playing these songs for a while, but it feels great to have new studio versions out there. And it was great working with (producer and former Talking Heads member) Jerry Harrison.

It just feels real fresh and live-sounding. The music really jumps out of you. And we are real proud of the songwriting and singing on this one."

During Monday night's Free Incident, the fans were feeling great, too.

A few songs into the set, the band led the audience in a collective, "Woo!"

Very cheesy.

Contact Colorado Daily Music Writer Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109, dean@coloradodaily.com. or twitter.com/AshaleyJill.