STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee at Northerly Island

Let’s start at the beginning of this epic night.  After a weird Chicago summer of never being really that hot, until one point when it was insanely hot, we finally reached the best-ever-summer-weather.  Tribe and Umphrey’s played this Saturday at FirstMerit Pavilion (Northerly Island).  Fun fact for non-Chicagoans… Northerly Island is an island that used to be an airport.  One day many years ago former Mayor Daley decided to tear it up in the middle of the night – pilots had no idea… one night there were bulldozers tearing up the runway and the next morning there were planes looking for somewhere else to land.  God, I love Chicago.

So, the plan started to conceive that there would be a nature park and concert venue on Northerly Island.  Now, these are the facts as I assume to be true (you can actually read about this here) – but at some point it was decreed that there couldn’t be any permanent physical structure on the island, so the entire stage and risers are created in compliance with this, and can be taken down any time.  This year, what used to be simply the floor area + risers opened up to have an entire lawn area behind it, which wasn’t used for this show but was packed for Phish a few weeks ago.  It’s a gorgeous venue, you have the lake behind you and the skyline in front of you, and on this perfectly beautiful night, there was no better place to be.

Photo credit: Jason “Chickenheadfan” Harper

Enough of the history lesson.  STS9 went on at 7:00pm sharp, which for me was a little odd at first… I’d never seen Tribe that early in a night, while it was still light out, and I was still sober.  Most of you Scampers must agree that it’s typically more of an “after midnight” experience.  I loved experiencing it in this way… as more of an Umph fan myself, it really sold me on wanting to catch more STS9 exclusively.  I have to particularly note the lights… of course, we all know that Umph is going to have an insane light show going on, but I must say that Tribe really was the stand-out!  Their ability to create such a dynamic experience as the sun was setting was truly one of a kind.  Stellar.

Hoopin' at STS9

Set: This, Us > Squares & Cubes, Golden Gate, One A Day, Abcees, Vibyl, Simulator, Kabuki, Circus, Vapors, Be Nice, King Pharoah’s Tomb, Moon Socket, Scheme  (confirmed @

If I had to sum up Umphrey’s, I’d have to use the word “classic”.  Not because they played a predictable set, but instead because of their Umph-like choices to mix classics & surprises in the perfect blend of excitement.  Hitting the stage at 9:15, we knew they were only going to play one set, and boy did they make it worth it.  As we moved from Bridgeless into Plunger the crowd really met that harmonic place of Umphrey’s love.

Speaking of, let’s have a sidebar about the crowd.  Now, I had my cousin from Ohio in town, so I brought her and my sister along to the show.  They’re great music lovers and were super excited, but probably would never have considered buying tickets on their own if I hadn’t made this the night’s plan.  The quotes coming from an Umphrey’s virgin included “I can’t believe how nice this crowd is”,  “Everyone is so friendly”,  “I’ve never been to a concert this crowded where everyone was so happy!”.  Good work, Umph fans… you always show a newcomer what it’s like to be a concert with a collective good vibe.


Let’s flash forward to the encore, because it warrants it’s own focus, particularly “Let’s Dance”.  This was the 9th time they’ve played it, beginning with New Years Eve 2011 in St. Louis — it had never been played in Chicago.  They brought up the boys from Tribe and kicked off the song, and the crowd went nuts.  Everyone loves a good Umphrey’s dance party, and boy did we get one.  I can’t imagine a better way to close out that night… Stasik absolutely killed it on that song.  You could tell how much fun they were having on stage, so it was easy to mirror the energy.  I give this night A+ for both STS9 and Umphrey’s… having a short amount of time to deal with given the 11pm hard stop in Chicago for outdoor venues, they more than made the journey worth our time.

Set: Le Blitz > Bridgeless > Plunger > Dear Lord > Plunger, No Diablo, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft -> Conduit, The Linear -> Bridgeless / Encore: 40′s Theme, Let’s Dance (confirmed @


CIT Abby