My journey to the land of STUMP started with a four and a half hour drive from Chicago to Louisville, KY. The last time I was in this beautiful city was when Umphrey’s McGee and Conspirator closed out an early fall tour at the Iroquois Amphitheater last September. This time around Umph went bit more classy by booking in one of the swankiest venues in town and asking the ever sophisticated STS9 to join them on the road.
The first show of tour took place at the immaculate Louisville Palace Theater. When you walk through the grand entrance of this venue you are immediately dazzled by the intricate artwork on the walls and ceiling. There is a lounge type bar on one side of the main lobby and the theater is on the other side.
I was lucky to score front row tickets for the assigned seating show and was glad I didn’t have deal with a bunch of drunk kids trying to steal my space on the rail. In fact, there was no rail, there wasn’t even a photo pit at the Palace. The only thing between me and the band was the stage. This was the first time I have ever been so close to the magic and it felt surreal.
Set 1: Umph
I got to my seat a few notes into “Push the Pig,” a lyrically underrated tune that has been part of Umphrey’s regular rotation for over a decade. The set seamlessly segued into the first part of “1348″ then “2×2,” taking us on a musical journey down the number line. A massive “DBK” sandwiched “Amble On,” a newer tune originating from a Jimmy Stewart fans voted to hear again at this year’s Umbowl. This “DBK” throw down contained just enough stop and go action to get everyone’s hips shaking and embodied all that good-time, fun-loving energy Umph is known for.
After “DBK” Bayliss announced a Police cover was about to get thrown in the mix and I couldn’t help hope for “Walking on the Moon.” It is a song I have been chasing for over 80 Umph shows, but on this specific night we got “Miss Grandanko.” I can’t really complain since I love the Police and it is another cover I have never heard them play before this show, but I couldn’t help feel a bit disappointed those first notes.
The guy next to me participated in the Headphones and Snowcones upgrade and he let me borrow his headphones for “FF>Puppet Strings.” Let me be the first to say that this experience was completely out of this world! The sound coming through the headphones was perfect, even with being in the first row. I was amazed at how clear Joel’s keys sounded and I noticed notes and tones I just couldn’t hear when they were blasting along side Brendan and Pony’s amps.
The end of the Umph’s Louisville set seemed like one long dance party with segues that didn’t end until they finished “1348.” It was almost like they were preparing us for the STS9 show that followed and it was the perfect way to kick off tour.
Umph Setlist :
Push the Pig > 1348 > 2×2, Der Bluten Kat > Amble On > Der Bluten Kat, Miss Gradenko, FF > Puppet String, The Triple Wide > (Don’t Fear) The Reaper > The Triple Wide -> 1348
 with Roundabout (YES) teases
 one verse
Set 2: STS9
I noticed members of STS9 watching the end of Umph’s set from the side of the stage and I could tell they were excited to see their fans get on the headphones bandwagon. This was the first time this technology has been available for any other band besides Umphrey’s and for any non-seasoned live act out there, it could be risky. There is no room for flaws when you have 50 people in the audience intently listening to every note every band member is playing. Luckily, Tribe was ready for this challenge.
STS9 filled their set with some old school gems that tugged at this band’s musical roots. Songs like “Ramone & Emiglio,” “Moon Socket,” and “Kamuy” brought me back to when I first fell in love with Sound Tribe. Murph’s bass vibrated right through me and seemed to tune the whole room into the same wavelength.
The energy of the set was fairly relaxed and free flowing. I have never had the opportunity to see STS9 this up close and personal and I couldn’t help notice elements of jazz in their approach to jamming. While I’ve always described their sound as electronic, I found myself zoned in on the artistic way Hunter Brown played his guitar and the ambient background energy supplied by percussionist Jeffree Lerner. The blending of all the individual parts was what created a beautiful fusion in each song STS9 played. I found myself mesmerized by the free flowing energy between every member of the band, like they were all locked in on the same sound expanding vision.
I must say that the absolute highlight of the evening for me was “And Some Are Angels…” Ever since I heard this song’s version on Axe the Winery, it has taken on a totally different meaning. Axe the Winery was an Axe the Cables event where STS9 stripped away their electronic elements for an entire show in order to showcase their sound in its most raw form, completely changing my perception of Sound Tribe’s music in the process.
The encore for the Louisville show was one for the books. Joel Cummings had warned us there would be some impressive sit ins but I don’t think I was expecting guitarist Jake Cinninger came out with STS9 and jam out the Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil.” The whole audience sang along with Jake has he blew the roof off the Louisville Palace Theater before STS9 finally closed out the night with “When the Dust Settles.”
Intro, Ramone & Emiglio, Moon Socket, Bigs > One Two Three, And Some Are Angels…, Blu Mood, March, Kamuy, Simulator, Arigato, Kabuki, Sympathy for the Devil*, When the Dust Settles
*w/ Jake from Umphrey’s McGee
It was strange for most of the people in the room to only see one set from each band and though they were long sets, there was still a lack of fulfillment with each. Luckily, I still had two more shows ahead of me, which was more than enough to get my fix.