Night two of my clandestine run started with a rendezvous in Denver and a quick cab ride over to the Fillmore. It was during their gig at Red Rocks that Umphrey’s McGee announced that they would be doing three nights on Colfax for New Year’s. They too subsequently announced a private VIP show for the 30th at the newly renovated 1 Up. The fact that the 30th was initially left open by YMSB, SCI, and UM lead many including myself to speculate that there would be a benefit on par with the 4 Mile Canyon show. However this did not come to pass, but I can’t help but feel that we missed a real opportunity for some incredible fundraising and some unforgettable collaboration. So it goes. I arrived just moments before Dumpstaphunk hit the stage and opened with their own funk explosion “Everybody Want Sum.”
Set 1: Everybody Want Sum, Blueswave, They Don’t Care, If I’m In Luck, Put It In The Dumpsta, Dancin’ To The Truth, Immigrant Song
Dumpstaphunk is a band directly descended from the New Orleans funk tradition. Led by multi-instrumentalist virtuoso Ivan Neville, the lineup is literally a super group of funk masters. Nikki Glaspie on drums with the three-pronged attack of Ian Neville, Tony Hall, and Nick Daniels III on guitar. This unique array of musicians allows for some amazing give and take. Their anthem to positive thinking, “Put It In The Dumpsta” was one highlight in a full and funky hour-long opening set. They closed with a smoking version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” that seemed to properly welcome everyone for the night’s festivities.
Dumpstaphunk is a great addition to any bill, but they were especially fun at The Fillmore. After a quick instrument change the lights dimmed and Umphrey’s McGee emerged from the darkness. This show was being streamed live and the room was just short of capacity. They opened with the Kris Meyer’s tune, “Flamethrower.”
Set 1: Flamethrower> Mulche’s Oddessy, Miami Virtue> Plunger > Day Nurse, No Comment> Plunger, Nemo> Dear Lord> Nemo, Dump City*
Set 2: Der Bluten Kat> Amble On> Der Bluten Kat**, Wife Soup, Ringo, River People^
*w/ Ivan Neville on keys
Joshua Redman sat in for the entire 2nd Set and Encore
**w/ Jaden Carlson on guitar
^First Time Played (Weather Report Cover)
The band bounced along almost innocently before ripping into a face-melting “Mulche’s Odyssey.” The prog-tastic “Miami Virtue” always makes me feel like I’ve just been plopped smack dab in the middle of a dance off scene in a John Hughes film. Plunger went dark and flashy before they dipped into a sneaky “Day Nurse,” which featured some sick synthesizer work from Joel Cummins. The song broke out into a tight but frenetic jam, which dissolved into funky “No Comment.” In classic Umph fashion they went succinctly back into “Plunger.” The somewhat rare “Dear Lord” jam during “Nemo” was a very nice touch. Umphrey’s invited Ivan Neville out for their set closing “Dump City.”
Umphrey’s diverged into a world of deep and intricate jams for set two. I’ve talked before about the magic of six song sets. It all began inconspicuously enough with a textbook “Der Bluten Kat” opener. However the segue into “Amble On” and back into “Der Bluten Kat” contained some of the most poignant and extended jamming of my entire New Year’s run. The inclusion of Joshua Redman on sax for the entire second set obviously added a level of class, but more than that it elevated the entire band. Umphrey’s has performed with a number of different horn players over the years, but Redman is simply a powerhouse of sophistication.
During the return to “Der Bluten Kat” the boys also invited local guitar phenom Jaden Carlson up to shred with Jake and Bayliss. For those that don’t know this kid is akin to a young female Derek Trucks. Just barely a teenager she is playing gigs many three times her age would kill for. She is definitely one to look out for and it’s awesome that Umphrey’s McGee took the opportunity to invite her up to play. “Wife Soup” was massive and contained perhaps the best back and forth with Redman and UM of the show. The “Ringo” was sublime and again went to the deep end. They closed with a debut of a “Weather Report” cover “River People.” It seemed to fit the mood of the evening very well. The encore again featured Redman for a fully realized “1348.” For many the 29th night may have lacked the pizzazz of the two following nights. However, Umphrey’s McGee is one of the most technical and musically elaborate bands touring today. Their show on Sunday was like bowing down at the altar of funk, jazz, and progressive rock. The genre bending and the amazing collaboration was definitely worth the price of admission.
A week into the new year, it’s time to look ahead to all of the musical excitement that this year has to offer. But first, it’s always fun to reflect back on the year I just had…
After 2012, I had been to 105 total concerts – which isn’t too many, I know – but considering I’ve been an athlete my entire life I have other priorities that take precedence over live music! 2013, however, was a milestone year for me in music as I fortunate enough to attend 45 shows, nearly twice as many as I saw in 2012. A lot of this is due to my first ever attendance of a camping festival (Summer Camp), and then of course my annual celebrations at Summerfest in Milwaukee. Let’s start with…
The Most Frequent Bands I Saw in 2013
Roster McCabe – 9 shows: I’ve written extensively about this band (now known as Night Phoenix) before, so this is nothing new. The Midwest “electro-rock” tours heavily throughout the year and I was able to catch them 9 times, putting my career tally at 20 Roster McCabe shows.
Umphrey’s McGee – 4 shows: No surprise here – my first UM show occurred in 2004 when I was just 12 years old. In 2013 I was at all 3 Scamp shows and also their set at Summerfest, making it 4 on the year. I have seen the improg group at least once every year since ’07.
Michael Franti & Spearhead – 2 shows: My favorite feel good musical choice, Michael Franti & Spearhead rolled through the Midwest in 2013 in support of his latest album, All People. I caught the “rebel rocker” at the Minneapolis State Fair in late August and about a month later in Madison with Moon Taxi.
Nahko & Medicine for the People – 2 shows: I had never heard of this band until about a week before they showed up in La Crosse, WI for a show at my favorite bar The Popcorn Tavern, which was a memory I’ll write about further down the page. A similar sound to Michael Franti and Matisyahu, Nahko just has a radiance of good vibes glowing off him that the rest of the band and crowd feeds off of.
Other notable acts: Pretty Lights, Big Gigantic, Moon Taxi, moe., Victor Wooten & Friends, Thievery Corporation, Blues Traveler, Dark Star Orchestra, 311, EMEFE, Steez, and Dark Star Orchestra covering The Rolling Stones.
My Top 5 Shows of 2013:
Of the 9 shows I saw Roster McCabe perform in 2013, why this one? Perhaps because it was only one set, which means it was a straight up dance party. Also, this was on Thursday at Summer Camp – the pre-party – so it was just a great way to set the tone for the entire weekend. The Camping Stage was a great spot right on the outskirts of the woods to draw in all the campers – and everyone LOVED it! The crowd didn’t stop moving through the entire – most of them unaware of Roster – but loved discovering a new band to get down to. They closed the set with a cover of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky that turned into a frenzy.
4) Umphrey’s McGee, 2013-07-02 Summerfest – Big Backyard
So many great things about this show. My hometown, in the front row with all my friends, Kevin Sinclair sit-in, Pink Floyd cover, 4 song encore (!!!) that included rarity Dear Lord, this show is a must download!
3) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, 2013-06-28 Summerfest – Marcus Amphitheater
This was my 6th Tom Petty show, and possibly my last. A sell-out crowd at the Amp sang along with all the hits and had great energy, as always. Petty loves Milwaukee, he makes that very clear every time he comes (all 6 times I’ve seen him came at Summerfest) and even showed a surprising amount of improv jams in a couple songs!
2) Trey Anastasio Band, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Sunshine Stage
This would be #1 if not for the unfortunate fact that the show was cut short. Due to the extreme rainstorm. But wow. This was my most listened to show of the year by far. I can’t imagine a better band to make such miserable weather conditions tolerable.
1) Everyone Orchestra, 2013-05-26 Summer Camp – Red Barn
The lineup included Victor Wooten, Joel Cummins, Al Schnier, Vinnie Amico, Allie Kral, Alex Steele, Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier and a few other I can’t remember, all conducted my Matt Butler. This show just completely blew my away from start to finish. 100% improv! What else could you ask for from an all-star lineup?!
Conclusion and Looking Towards 2014
The only regret I have from 2013 is that I didn’t get to see my all time favorite band, Phish. I had tickets for all 3 nights in Chicago but unfortunately it didn’t work out with some other things that popped up. I have a good feeling they’ll return to Alpine Valley for 2 nights this summer though!
2014 will be a great year. Of course Summer Camp already has an amazing lineup announced and it will only get better. Particle reunited and is on a heavy tour for 2014 – don’t miss out on these guys! One of the founding bands of the electronic jam scene next to the Disco Biscuits and STS9.
Happy new year, and see ya on the road!
New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest nights of the year for music. Some of the best memories of my life come from the times I’ve spent with friends and family getting down at a New Year’s Eve show. You can’t beat the atmosphere, the people, or the unbelievable 3 night runs so many of the artists put together. I thought I’d share where I think the top places to be this NYE as well as some clips from some of the great NYE shows of the past.
#1 – String Cheese Incident – Broomfield, CO
The photo above is from one of the greatest shows I’ve ever witnessed. String Cheese at 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, CO a couple years back in 2012. Unreal! The atmosphere was amazing and the vibe in Colorado was jubilant. The three night run included an unforgettable light show, guest spots, on stage performances, and the best people in the world all gathered to bring in the new year in the most exhilarating way possible. The three night run ended with a nearly 4 hour long, 3 set show that was truly unforgettable. My favorite part of the show is the “Sweet Emotion” cover towards the end of the first set. I was in another world listening to the reverberations of the bass as the tune echoed through the crowd.
This year promises to be even better! People who have been before have been geared up for this event for months. One of my good friends even organized a trip with over 100 people and took over an entire hotel floor! Go Steve Bannister! The video below from 2012 will rock your world! “Sweet Emotion” is about 20 minutes from the end.
#2 – Umphrey’s Mcgee – Denver, CO
Colorado is the place to be! Broomfield is only a short drive from Denver so you could hypothetically check out part of each band’s run this NYE. I came into my own as a person and passionate music fan during the early 2000′s in Chicago and I’ve attended UM on NYE at least 5 times without counting. They really bring it and you can expect something unique and special every time. They used to do a 3 night run at the Aragon EVERY YEAR much to the delight of Chicagoans, but the story is that the Aragon cancelled on them a couple years back to make way for the Black Keys. Bad move. UM has never been back and they’ve continued producing epic shows each year since. Highlights that I can remember from off the top of my head include UM playing with a full brass band, they brought an entire chorus with them another time, stage performances, and some covers I’ve only gotten to hear them do once.
UM has 4 nights in Denver so hopefully you can get into one of the shows. Here they are they Pageant in 2011, the first year they didn’t play Chicago.
#3 – Widespread Panic – Atlanta, GA
The photo above from December 31st in Charlotte last year pretty much says everything you need to know about how great the 30th and 31st are going to be in Atlanta this year! It’s been awhile since I’ve seen these guys, actually, all the way back to 2011 Summer Camp. But I’ve been in the mood for listening to NYE shows and I came across this from 2005. I immediately knew I had to add this year’s show to the list.
#4 – Sun Stereo – Urbana, IL
Personally, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and I decided to stay closer to home. I’ll be checking out Josh Houchin, Kelly McMorris, and the rest of Sun Stereo rock the Canopy Club. This local band rocked Summer Camp and Hangout Festival last year and will without a doubt be the best show in town come NYE.
Happy New Year’s Everyone!
Sometimes is scares me to see how much time in my life has flown by, but other times the very same thought lifts me up after I remember all the great times I’ve had through the years. The UM/STS9 tour took me back nearly 10 years to when I was first starting to really expand my grasp of great music and great people. I came to love the scene while at Loyola University in Chicago by attending show after show of Umphrey’s Mcgee, Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Cornmeal, & Sound Tribe Sector Nine just to name a few. When I started writing this article I realized that watching how far these groups have come has in a strange way also helped me reflect on how far I’ve come from the college freshman who had never really gotten past listening to Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (NOT THAT THERE IS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THEM!) Over the past 10 years I’ve seen these bands countless times and in countless places, not the least of which is Summercamp. I had the great pleasure of seeing two of these bands at the time recently in Louisville and it was EPIC.
The Palace in Louisville is one of the coolest venues I’ve ever been to. It’s been around forever and was originally used to show “moving pictures” way back in the day. The architect was on fire! This place looks and feels like you are outside in an ancient city around dusk. The walls are back lit a deep blue with columns and great artwork running all the way around.
Umphrey’s went on first, I don’t know if this is the case at each stop or just the night I was there. They were great and continued to show off more of their hard rock and metal talent. Years ago I remember myself complaining a bit about how metal they were at times. However, in preparation for their upcoming album in the hard rock vein, UM put on a full set of heavy rock and it was great.
Push The Pig > 1348 > 2×2 - Der Bluten Kat – Miss Gradenko – FF > 07 Puppet String – The Triple Wide # > 1348 * – Roundabout teases # – Don’t Fear The Reaper jam
Sound Tribe was great too. The light show was at another level. Bright purples and deep blues everywhere! I was too busy rocking to get the set list to their set but it was as good as any I’ve ever seen.
Make sure and check out the venue and make sure and catch this tour!
Arriving at my first Red Rocks show of the summer always fills my soul with a sense of elation. Seeing the giant formations of Ship and Creation Rock cradling the most amazing amphitheater on the planet is something I’ll never grow tired of. Parking in Lower South can be a roll of the dice. It’s the area with the most pronounced Shakedown and this show was no different. All manner of wooks, puppy pullers, yuppies, and heads mingled on the red gravel paths formed by the rows of cars. Each year the fan base seems younger and younger particularly at Umphrey’s McGee shows. Dreadlocked boys lacking shirts and sometimes common sense peddle their wares. Items ranging from beer koozies to DMT are all easily available if you know what you are looking for. After meeting a few friends I headed in early to catch Delta Spirit.
I wandered up the ramp and found that the crowd was non-existent. In fact I literally walked all the way to the gate and inside with not so much as a pause. Inside, the first twenty or so rows saw a light scattering of people, which did little to instill my confidence that the show would sell out. Delta Spirit is a five-piece hailing from Brooklyn by way of Long Beach that look like they wandered out of a hipster version of an Abecrombie & Fitch catalog. Their indie sound although energetic felt somewhat misplaced in the lineup. They blend elements of electro-pop, folk, and rock with an almost Lo-Fi sensibility rooted in organic musicianship. Their live show was much heavier and punchier than their studio work. The melodic interplay of their vocals was definitely a highlight of the set. Having performed numerous times on television and at major U.S. festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza there is no question that Delta Spirit will make it to the mainstream. I’m just curious why their first time playing at Red Rocks was opening for prog jammers Umphrey’s McGee.
Dr. Dog took the famed stage playing an extended hour and fifteen minute set to the now substantially larger audience. Their “old-timey” cover photo on Relix a few years back, proclaiming them “America’s Next Great Band” did much to make me excited to see them live. However their performance put my enthusiasm at bay. Dr. Dog’s sound is a combination of rock and indie, but what flows forth from this group left many in the crowd again wondering why they were on the bill. They raged through their time with verocity and power. However by the end it was obvious that the crowd was getting antsy for the main event.
When Umphrey’s finally came out front I would say that anyone in the first fifty rows probably felt like they were in a capacity crowd. However the last third of Red Rocks was left wide open. The 6500 or so Umphreaks were treated to the show that this band has been trying to play at Red Rocks for years. It was a peak performance for a band that has attempted such a feat here for quite some time. The five members drifted out from beyond the smoke and to the stage as “In The Hall Of the Mountain King” (a song I’ve seen them perform live) blasted out of the PA. As the music subsided they opened the show with “Divisions.”
Set 1: Divisions*> The Floor, Loose Ends> 40’s Theme, In The Kitchen, Frankie Zombie, Miss Tinkle’s Overture
Set 2: The Triple Wide> 1348, Push the Pig> Comma Later, Glory> Divisions> Get In The Van, August> Big Heart> August, Thunderstruck**
Encore: Preamble> Mantis
*w/ In The Hall of the Mountain King played along to PA
**w/ Clayton Halsey on vocals
It would be a night where Umphrey’s McGee’s powerful prog rock bounced off the walls as Walful’s lights danced among the boulders. Everything about this show was intensely incredible and far and away the best they’ve played at Red Rocks ever. Save for a couple songs nothing they played was highly unusual or rare. It was just classic Umphrey’s playing at the top of their game. Fresh off performances at Summer Camp and Wakarusa their Colorado run was a destination event with a second night to follow at Chautauqua. The first set was straightforward by song choice, but the technical ferocity with which they executed their performance was enough to make your head spin. “The Floor” stretched on as the lights flickered over the Denver skyline. “In The Kitchen” was the host to a gargantuan jam with a simple visit to the refrain. Their homespun mashup of “Frankie Zombie” which included a nod to White Zombie, Pink Floyd, and Frankie Says was a definite peak for the first set. They closed with a sublime “Miss Tinkle’s” complete with pyrotechnics before adjourning to the backstage.
The second set felt more progressive in nature as the riff heavy jams percolated from the abyss. Myers blasted off on “1348”
“I’d like to dedicate this next song to the lovely the lady in the Axle Rose t-shirt over here… just makes me have faith in the world right there.” – Bayliss
“Push The Pig” saw some of the rowdiest and darkest jamming of the night, which was par for the course at this point. “Glory” was done with a tenderness that allowed everyone to finally catch their breath before they went back into the show opening “Divisions.” “Big Heart” was short, but a bust out of sorts having not been played in 371 shows. They invited Clayton Halsey up for their set closing version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstuck.”
Umphrey’s McGee came back to encore with “Preamble” into “Mantis.” Everything about this show was stellar, from the extensive energy put into the overall production to the musical execution by the band. UM is always good, but when they really focus they have the ability to be out of this world. Their show this year at Red Rocks should be marked as a climax when they finally accomplished something truly spectacular at this the most divine of venues.
Umphrey’s McGee in STL
The only thing better than an Umphrey’s McGee show is back to back Umphrey’s McGee shows. UM rocked over 30 originals along with several covers over the weekend in STL. The venue was one of my favorites. I’ve probably said this before, but there is NO bad view at the Pageant. It is hands down one of the best places to see a show, even from the bar in the back you have a clear view of the entire stage. This is key when you are dealing with a light show the caliber of UM.
The mood was great because the fans in STL are great. Most of the crowd had tickets for both nights and the anticipation was high on the first night. Lots of energy and excitement. Umphrey’s delivered with a high energy set, fast and furious throughout. For some reason UM seemed to sync up with the crowd perfectly both nights. High energy the first night, and just like the crowd, a bit more laid back on night two. I put the downloads below, both are well worth the listen.
Set One: Drink My Drank > Plunger > 2×2, Comma Later > Mantis > The Linear > Last Man Swerving -> No Comment* > Plunger
Set Two: Puppet String** > 40′s Theme, Wife Soup, Bridgeless, Live and Let Die, Bright Lights, Deeper > Mantis
Set One: Leave Me Las Vegas > Get In The Van, The Floor, In The Kitchen > #5 > In The Kitchen, Example 1, Muscle Shoals Nitty Gritty, Layla
Set Two: Der Bluten Kat > Peter Gunn / Every Breath You Take > Der Bluten Kat, White Pickle > Slacker, Wappy Sprayberry > Tribute To The Spinal Shaft > Puppet String, encore break, Phil’s Farm > Glory > Phil’s Farm
For some turning forty is a day for celebration and remembrance, Dave marked his fortieth trip around the sun by lighting the fuse to a powder keg and blasting down the hill in style. Dave arranged for both Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger from Umphrey’s McGee to play a special two-set acoustic show in his living room. With both The Magic Beans and The Drunken Hearts supporting the entire event promised to be one not easily forgotten. I headed up with a few friends from Denver and arrived at Dave’s north of Denver around 7 PM. There was already a decent crowd assembled mingling amongst the massive potluck spread complete with a keg of Ranger. It was obvious that this was going to be a stellar night and it was just starting.
We kicked off our shoes into the massive pile by the door and got to it. So many sock-footed friends and familiar faces dotted the room, as the birthday boy chatted with his guests. Bayliss and Jake were sitting on the couch watching their alma mater Notre Dame square off against USC to complete an unbeaten season. The house was perfectly set up for what was about to occur. The UM Duo would perform in the living room and downstairs there was a literally a stage on the carpeting complete with lights and a soundboard. The basement was basically a large L with plenty of room for everyone.
The Drunken Hearts got started a little after 8 PM and quickly warmed up the crowd. There was a party atmosphere so people seemed to float in and out the basement. They played a sweet variety of Americana cut with a bit of rock and roll. Hailing from Vail, Colorado and labeling themselves Alternative Grass Rock, The Drunken Hearts are a new force on the scene. Andrew McConathy’s deep and colorful voice resonated off the basement walls. His tone has a unique quality to it that makes it very versatile and well suited to the genres of music that they play. Early in their set there was a short power outage when the band blew the breaker. The Drunken Hearts very professionally continued to play in the dark. Towards the end of the song the room was again filled with the iridescent green light from the towers. They played a tight version of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” and I was told that Bayliss sat in on kit for a song. Honestly they were a lot of fun and a very smooth way to ease into the night. They recently released Live for Today, which was produced by Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, and features sit-ins from both Tim and Scott Law.
Everyone filed upstairs and quietly took their place throughout the kitchen and living room. The stage was simple, two chairs, a couple lights, a small plaque commemorating the life of Sarah Elizabeth Gewald, Brendan, and Jake. Notre Dame had won and it was time to get down. Dave politely told everyone to be respectful and the show was on. They opened up with a fully developed “40’s Theme.”
Set 1: 40′s Theme, In the Kitchen> White Pickle> Den, Rocker Pt 1, Great American> Over the Hills and Far Away> Great American>The Girl is Mine> Jane Says> Great American, Hajimemashite> Glory> Hajimemashite, Dear Prudence, FF> Gulf Stream, Can’t Find My Way Home, 2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills
Set 2: Divisions> No Comment> Soul Food I^> In the Kitchen, Comfortably Numb, August> That’s The Way> August, Bridgeless@, Jake Solo$, Morning Song, Thunderstruck, The Weight Around, Black Water*, Front Porch> Resolution> Goodbye Blue Sky> Divisions
Encore: Porch**, Night Moves^Horse with no Name (America) and Run To You (Bryan Adams) verses @ W/ Don’t Stop Believing fake out $ Dedicated to “all of our fallen friends.” * W/Clayton Halsey on vocals ** Pearl Jam, 1st time played. The audio stream is online to listen to http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/27255821.
The setlist was just stupid good and the acoustic playing along with the myriad of covers set the premise for the night. The crowd would sporadically chime in to sing along with the band. Brendan and Jake are solid players; their acoustic performances really allow the listener to focus on their ability to just pick. The incredible dynamic between Jake and Brendan was as substantial in front of the select gathering in Dave’s Living Room as it is in front of thousands of screaming fans at Red Rocks. They performed “In The Kitchen” to people who were literally in the kitchen. The entire two set show was playful in this way, with gentle ribbing give to Dave by the band between songs. The jam on “White Pickle” was engaging before they segued into a rare “Rocker Pt. 1”, which has only been played once by Umphrey’s in 2009 since it’s debut in 2006. They used their instrumental “Great American” as the double bookend Jam one of the most compelling runs of the night. ”Great American”> ”Over the Hills and Far Away”> ”Great American”> ”The Girl is Mine”> ”Jane Says”> ”Great American”, I mean really? Weaving out of their own musical landscapes into Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson, and Jane’s Addiction in a single strand of a performance is downright mystifying and exceptionally entertaining. Going back to the Umphrey’s songbook they played a nice sandwich of “Hajimemashite”> ”Glory”> ”Hajimemashite” before they went into a beautiful cover of the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence”
Dear Prudence – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BszbMv_adQ&feature=youtu.be
A favorite moment of mine was the “FF” into “Gulf Stream.” This was just a good combo back to back and seemed to exemplify the feel of the first set; relaxed and celebratory.
FF into Gulf Stream – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa8PTMFqgRs
They again wowed the attentive audience with a rendition of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” before ending the set appropriately with “2 dips, 1 bump, and a Fuckload of Pills.” (I had to check that was really the title of the song and not setlist notes for someone.)
Friends mingled about and eagerly awaited the return of Brendan and Jake. If the first set was a straightforward shot with a few surprises, then the second set was a field of land mines being traversed on a unicycle. They came out strong with a huge “Divisions” to start the show. Dave’s friend brought a painting that was a live representation of this song to be signed, so it made sense that they would use it as the bread for the second set sandwich. “No Comment” was a bit abrupt, but the funky “Soul Food I” included “Horse with No Name” and “Run To You” verses. This was when things started getting weirder. From SF1 they launched back into “In The Kitchen” The first of two second set Pink Floyd covers came in the form of an excellently executed “Comfortably Numb.” They performed yet another back and forth with “August” into Led Zeppelin’s “That’s The Way” and back again. “Bridgeless” contained a massive Journey tease that made the whole crowd cheer. Jake played a stunning solo dedicated to, “all of our fallen friends.” Brendan and Jake played a dark “Morning Song,” which they followed up with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” They busted out a rare “The Weight Around” and the upped the ante with a version the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water.” The playful “Front Porch” is an old track seeing less of the rotation in recent years. “Resolution” disintegrated into an absolutely awesome version of Pink Floyd’s “Good By Blue Sky” before they wrapped it up with the aforementioned “Divisions.” Wow. This was just an unbelievable set of music.
Brendan and Jake encored with a first time ever played “Porch” by Pearl Jam as well as Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.” This was such an enjoyable time and a great way to spend a Saturday Night. Magic Beans took the stage downstairs as music fans basked in the afterglow of that acoustic set. The Beans are a talented group who continue to impress audiences all across Colorado and beyond. They played as the people mingled and slowly dribbled away into the darkness. Eventually too my ride indicated that it was time to hit the old dusty trail and we left as the Beans were still shredding. I want to extend a big thanks to Dave for even attempting, let alone pulling off the most incredible birthday party I’ve ever attended. Happy Birthday my friend.
You may have been keeping tabs on the fiery 2012 political debates with Romney and Obama squaring off in a battle of health care reform, tax breaks for the rich and pure suit and tie debauchery on all fronts. However, on the sidelines an important battle in jamband land has slowly gained attention as percussionist Andy Farag and keyboardist Joel Cummins throw dirty funked-up blows across the stage. That’s right– the boys of Umphrey’s McGee have had enough and they’re not concerned with Obamacare of Romney’s 47% because they have hardcore stimulus packages of their own. Oooh dirty.
So, who really is the people’s President? The slickest melody maker that will take away suffering for all of UM nation? Farag stands firm by solid middle class values and is firnly rooted in his solidarity with all Um-freaks to create a more loving community in jam nation. Listen to his platform strong points HERE! Unfortunately, we hear nothing of free BBQ topped with Andy’s famous southern rub for all nor do I hear anything about UM dance parties filled with techno-colored care bears and moustache rides. Dismissing those strong points from his argument truly make me question his so called desire to unify the divisions singer Brendan Bayliss so fondly sings of.
Meanwhile, the weathered and wrinkled keys master Mr. Cummins , stands firmly by his belief and love in America. In fact, he repeats the point one too many times in his weak opening argument. He speaks of economic freedom and the ability to make our children’s dreams come true using tried and true good ol’ American ideals. He attacks Farag for his eratic drug use and inability to run UM nation while he’s all doped out in his apartment, teary eyed and eating cookie dough while banging around on a new drum set bought with the people’s money. Mister Cummins intent focus on some Candy Land version of childhood however just may prove how out of touch an old mind can be.
Ultimately, it it is up to you– the fans. Who will you trust to run UM nation?
After a lazy night with Railroad Earth at The Boulder Theater it was time for the main event with both RRE and Umphrey’s McGee showcasing their skills at Red Rocks. Seeing UM always reminds me of Summer Camp, and gets me excited for next year’s festival. CIT Tiffany was also in attendence at the show and you can read her review of Red Rocks and UM at the Boulder Theater here. Opting out of throwing their third Red, Rocks, & Blue show around the 4th of July, UM instead, created a late summer run that included both bands playing in Boulder. Traffic was murder as all the Coloradoans sped down the road for one more summer adventure before the leaves turned. We arrived at the box office, which was swamped with all manner of wooks, hippie chicks, and lot regulars. It was like working my way through the Cantina on Mos Eisley in Star Wars complete with alien life forms and shitty oboe jams. After procuring my pass we headed to the top and parked in Upper North. The lot was full as randoms milled about waiting to head inside. Our time was short, but we managed to see a few friends and have a beer before finding a spot inside.
The show was GA again meaning that all of Red Rocks was wide open. Fans squeezed to the front as the middle quickly filled in. Railroad Earth took the stage with a massive “Seven Story Mountain” to start their almost two-hour set.
SET I: Seven Story Mountain, Happy Song, Gold Rush, Mighty River, Saddle Of The Sun, The Old Man and the Land, Elko, Mourning Flies, Lone Croft Farewell, Hunting Song, Long Way To Go, Spring-Heeled Jack, Colorado
Overall the Railroad set just had more energy than the previous night in Boulder. They were playing to the crowd with long meandering jams and even playing in a borderline psychedelic style towards the end of their set. Railroad Earth is a great band that continues to grow and evolve. Every year that they come to Colorado they bring a new song and stylistic shift that broadens their appeal and furthers their ability to excite audiences. In just the last three years they have come so far, I can honestly say when they bring the energy they are a tough band to beat live. Last year RRE played Red Rocks with Yonder Mountain String Band, but making a shift and hoping to open up their sound to new fans, they decided to play with Umphrey’s McGee. I for one think this is a bold move on their part and an excellent way to get exposure in Colorado. Most YMSB fans would know RRE, but that is not necessarily true of UM fans. Not to mention that this set was a solid introduction for anyone who was new to seeing them live. Highlights of the show included a strong “Elko” and a stunning “Spring Heeled-Jack.” They ended the opening set appropriately enough with “Colorado.”
Umphrey’s was up next and at this point there was still plenty of room at the top of the venue. I’m not sure why UM has such a hard time selling out Red Rocks. It seems that they did everything to promote the show properly including ticket giveaways, announcing they would be filming a DVD, creating social media buzz, and more. They seem to be cursed at The Edge; they just hit a wall around 8,000 attendees every year, never really breaking that barrier. The members of Umphrey’s have been having fun with some mock political ads featuring Joel Cummins and Andy Farag for president. Both sets began with an attack ad from both sides.
After the ad they opened with a fun but quick “There’s No Crying In Mexico.”
SET I: There’s No Crying In Mexico> All In Time> ‘Jimmy Stewart’*> All In Time, Puppet String> 2×2, Miami Virtue> The Linear> Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Floor
SET II: Ocean Billy, Nothing Too Fancy> Mulche’s Odyssey, End of the Road, Conduit> Nothing Too Fancy, Plunger> Puppet String
ENCORE I: Kashmir^
ENCORE II: JaJunk
*with Lyrics ^with Railroad Earth
This is just a classic Umphrey’s show, featuring some solid back and forth jamming as well as amazingly tight delivery, which has been their hallmark for the better part of a decade now. The “All In Time” “Jimmy Stewart” sandwich stretched on to the 20-minute mark showing the band’s readiness to go off the deep end right from the onset. After the band caught their breath they went into another long version of “Puppet String” which was left unfinished. The “2×2” was a chance for the band to stretch out under Bayliss’s singing. “Miami Virtue” was a welcomed tune as it has been slowly developing as a crowd favorite since its release on Death By Stereo. Bayliss again took the vocals with the progressive-tinged “The Linear.” Umphrey’s surprised the crowd with the Radiohead cover “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” which was done quite well. They ended the first set with a foreboding “The Floor,” leaving many fans chomping at the bit for set two. This was just a solid first set offering from UM. They established that they were ready to jam, and that they were definitely still playing at the top of their game.
The second set began another campaign ad and another enormous jam this time on “Ocean Billy.” The “Nothing Too Fancy” built very nicely as the band layered their instrumentation quite well, before it erupted into crunchy “Mulche’s Odyssey.” They came back down to planet earth with a tasty “End of the Road.” Umphrey’s blasted off with a dark take on “Conduit” which felt like the pivot point of the entire set. Kris Myers and Andy Farag brought the heat here before the band made their way back into the close of “Nothing Too Fancy.” They ended the second set with an incredible “Plunger” back into “Puppet String.” The second set was a beautiful display of how well these guys play together as a group. They listen to each other and they know what the other members of the band are thinking. Every time I see Umphrey’s live it’s like looking at a perfectly timed engine with all the components completely in synch. It is because they are so tight that they continue to attract new fans and push the limits of their musical potential.
The first encore may have been the highlight of the entire show with Railroad Earth sitting in with UM on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” RRE did get lost in the mix a bit, but it was definitely a fun experiment. I honestly thought that UM would entertain some more acoustic playing given the fact that they have performed several stripped down shows as of late. This was not the case, rather RRE played up to a heavier sound, which is definitely apparent in this encore. Umphrey’s came back for a second encore solo and played a nice “JaJunk” to close the show. It was a pleasant way to close out Red Rocks for the summer and an enjoyable show all around. The combination of RRE and UM made for an interesting dynamic. I look forward to the day when UM will become fully embraced in Colorado and finally sell out Red Rocks. They certainly deserve it.
Featuring an eclectic mix of jam-band gurus, hip hop heroes and electronic wizardry marching on the front lines of the inaugural Summer Set Music Festival party line, this weekend’s fest. should be a helluva throw down for Wisco (as my new Scamp friends from Wisconsin told me to enunciate their beloved home state). Aside from headliner’s Pretty Lights, Umphrey’s McGee, Big Gigantic, NAS, Blackstar and YelaWolf– the sure-fire hot commodities certain to raise a ruckus, the up-and-comers on the bill round this fest out nicely. With the added touch of a little reggae roots rock from John Brown’s Body and the electronic prowess of beat masters Bonobo and RJD2, this assorted grab bag of musical savvy is genius on the part of the festival organizers.
More and more, we’re seeing the blending of musical genres at what were once dubbed with inherently jam-band musical talents and it’sa true testament to our generation and the performers spreading their wings to see such a variety of performers share their craft at such a unique event. While electronic music has certainly been a part of the mix for sometime, the last year has truly brought the on-slaught of hip hop into the music festival scene. (and I like it!!) Mos Def & Talib Kweli after a nasty 2 hour UM set– yes please!
And yes, for their kick-off fest. Summer Set was able to snatch up long-time Summer Camp electronic-funk-jam gurus Umphrey’s McGee. The boys have been on fire this year (see my earlier post HERE), throwing down late night performances and into the morning sets at Bonnaroo, Hangout Music Festival and of course the sick nasty three-part performances at Summer Camp Music Festival this year. I can’t wait to hear what they have up their sleeves for Summer Set which will be followed by an East Coast run my way to play at one of our many hometown breweries Pisgah Brewing Company.
For all you Summer Set goers– enjoy the boogie and I’ll catch up with you after the boys throw down at Pisgah after! Onward and upward ~Tiffany