Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger of Umphrey’s McGee will be showcasing some of their favorite holiday songs, along with some rare covers, and a handful of Umphrey’s originals on December 7th when they host their Annual Acoustic Holiday Show at the Park West in Chicago. This benefit will raise funds for The People’s Music School, the only music school in Chicago to offer free quality music education to children up until they graduate high school.
This exclusive event usually contains a handful of rarities and covers along with special guest sit-ins to help add to the magic of the night. Brendan and Jake have even welcomed the children’s choir on stage in the past to help boost the holiday atmosphere. “My favorite memory is doing “Happy Xmas” with a children’s choir.” Brendan Bayliss shared with me, ”I’ve wanted to play that song since I was old enough to remember it.”
And ultimately, this show is for the kids. The money raised at this year’s holiday show will be used to enroll kids in the People’s Music School. ”Our goal is to raise as much as we can in order to put as many kids in the school as possible,” explained event coordinator, Barry Brown. “The demand for enrollment always exceeds the funding available. So the more we raise and donate, the more kids there are that can get into the school.” In the past, Umphrey’s has helped raise enough funds to put at least 20 kids though the school’s music education program from the time they enroll until they graduate high school.
This will be the 11th year this annual charity event will taken place. Doors of the Park West will open early so attendees can participate in UM Holiday Garage Sale, where exclusive Umphrey’s merchandise will be available at steep discounts with part of the proceeds going to The People’s Music School. There will also be a raffle with prizes that include everything from restaurant gift cards to Summer Camp Music Festival tickets!
Tickets are currently on sale for the Annual Acoustic Holiday Show here and this event is guaranteed to sell out. They are currently accepting donations and raffle prizes so if you would like to contribute a prize or gift certificates, please email Barry Brown at UMcharityshow@gmail.com.
After all, it’s for the kids!
Halloween is a BIG weekend for the infamous Umphrey’s McGee. These novelty shows usually follow a tradition of busting out a handful of debut covers in a variety of ways, including combining them together into one beastly monster called a ‘mash-up’. I knew I couldn’t miss a single night of this year’s mash-up run, so I took up residence at a hotel suite directly across from the Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater along with ten of my closest friends. The first night of the run was actually on Halloween, plus all three shows were being streamed and taped for later release. I guess it goes without saying that this weekend was destined to be mashed to another level.
I spent the first half of Halloween day sewing together my Hell’s Belle costume, which was a mash-up of the devil and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I was definitely ready to rock and roll in my AC/DC get up and, needless to say, the members of Umphrey’s were also dressed to impress for this special holiday. Brendan Bayliss was HeisenBert Reynolds, Jake Cinninger was Silent Bob Seger, Kris Myers was Dr. Phil Spector, and Andy Farag was Paul Ryan Braun, to which the Milwaukee crowd boo’d and hissed as he was introduced. But the best costume had to of been Joel Cummins dressed as Uncle Jesse Pinkman.
The first mash-up song of the night came at the end of the first set. It featured “When Doves Cry” by Prince, blended with Umph original “Pay the Snucka” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. While ”Don’t Fear the Doves, Snucka” was fairly well mashed, I felt like it didn’t have quite enough cow bell to really pull it off.
Halloween night’s second set contained the next mash-up; “Papa Can Change a Blurred Stone”. This was probably my least favorite debut of the weekend, mostly because Umphrey’s covered Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. This pop song has haunted me at every wedding, club, and dive bar I patronized over the past six months and the fact that I had to endure it once again while watching my favorite band was the ultimate Halloween trick. Not only that, but it completely overpowered The Tempations, Marvin Gaye, and LCD Soundsystem in the process. I am not sure whose idea it was to cover that specific song but I have a feeling bassist Ryan Stasik was involved, especially since his mash-up costume was Batman & Robin Thicke.
The final mash-up of the night stayed true to the yearly Halloween Mash-up Show tradition of saving the best for last. “Highway to Electric Avenue” was probably the most well mashed song of the Halloween show and seemed deliberately put aside for the show’s encore. Umphrey’s original “The Triple Wide” helped set off the mash-up’s pace which eventually evolved into a game of double-dutch between AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”. I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this mash-up contained a song by the same band that inspired my Hell’s Belle costume. Besides the three mash-ups, the setlist from Halloween contained heavy hitter after heavy hitter without a single song from the albums Mantis or Anchor Drops thrown in the mix. Fancy that.
Encore: Electric Avenue to Hell
 with Halloween theme (John Carpenter) jam, and Thriller (Michael Jackson) and Day Nurse teases
 debut; Papa Was a Rolling Stone (The Temptations) + Blurred Lines (Robin Thicke) + Got to Give It Up (Marvin Gaye) + I Can Change (LCD Soundsystem) mash-up
 debut; The Triple Wide + Highway to Hell (AC/DC) + Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant) mash-up
For Friday night, I signed up for Headphones and Snowcones. It basically cost me $40 for a pair of headphones that streamed a live audio mix directly from the soundboard to my tympanic membranes. This was the first time I tried the experience for an entire show and now I’m afraid live music will never sound the same. These headphones allowed me to tune out the rest of the world so I could get completely lost in the moment. This type of experience is the reason I am so in love with live music and now I don’t know how I will be able to fully enjoy a show without a set of headphones on. So it goes.
The second set on Friday opened with a DBK club sandwich and contained the night’s only debut mash-up: “The Final Teen Spirit”. Dramatic synths from Europe’s “The Final Countdown” directly clashed with Nirvana’s grunge classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The simplicity of mashing only two songs into one seamless tune made this one of the most successful, straightforward mash-up of the weekend.
 with Simple Gifts (trad.) teases
 debut; The Final Countdown (Europe) + Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana) mash-up
 with Adam Budney on vocals
 with Baba O’Riley (The Who) teases
Brother’s Rage played a smoking after party show on Friday night that featured one of my favorite sit-ins to date. Jake Cinninger, the other worldly guitarist from Umphrey’s McGee, joined the late night act for a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Profit” followed by some spacey improv. The jam eventually slammed into the sweaty disco tune, “You Should be Dancing” originally by the Bee Gee’s and featured Mr. Barry Brown on vocals. Needless to say, a legendary dance party erupted among all who attended and continued into the early morning hours.
By the final day of the Halloween run, most of my crew was hurting. Too much bourbon and beer had our hotel room smelling like the bathroom of a Wisconsin dive bar. Saturday’s show was sold out but I ended up getting a wristband for the floor, which ended up being completely packed with people. I was forced to stand behind a guy wearing a huge mushroom head hat and next to a girl that decided to conserve space by grinding on my leg like a dog humping its favorite teddy bear.
As far as Umphrey’s goes, this was definitely their most animated show of the weekend. Jake and Ryan were all over the place, both musically and physically. The first set contained an unfinished version of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”, which made me realize that I will probably never get a chance to hear Umphrey’s cover “Walking on the Moon” live. Also, it’s about time for Umph to tackle ”Man in a Suitcase”.
The final mash-up of the weekend was “Push the Booth Deeper” and it was confusing as hell! Most of us had no clue what was going on, which song was being played or whether all three originals were being played at the same time. A friend was able to get a hold of the song’s notes and confirmed the cluster of confusion from which this mash-up was birthed. To be honest, I am still trying to wrap my head around it.
Umphrey’s McGee finally ended the second set on Saturday night by busting out the Metallica rager, “…And Justice for All”, which hadn’t been performed live in over five years. But the real highlight of the evening was the relentless “Bridgeless” encore. As the tune progressed, one particular audience member could no longer contain his excitement. This very dirty looking man ran across the stage without shoes on, only to be tackled by the stage crew in front of the sold out crowd. It was then rumored that the same wook ended up outside the venue about an hour later going absolutely insane without a single piece of clothing on his body. And thus, a Halloween weekend full of mash-ups and debauchery came to an end.
 debut, The Police; incomplete
 with Jake on keys
 debut; Booth Love + Deeper + Push the Pig mash-up
Umphrey’s McGee has been in and out of the studio for the last couple months working on their newest album due out early next year. This will be their first studio album since Death by Stereo. Since then they have developed quite a few new tunes that truly encapsulate the essence of Umph. There are also dozens of songs fans have fallen in love with over the years that have yet to endure a studio treatment.
As far as the debut bust outs for this album, we are guaranteed to get a couple tracks that scream live potential and will hopefully explore new jamscapes for Umphrey’s McGee, much like ”Miami Virtue” did after Death by Stereo was released or “Cemetery Walk” after Mantis. By creating a limitless platform of music, Umphrey’s can gear their sound into any direction they choose at any given show, which is the true beauty of this magnificent jam machine.
Joel tweeted in August that the new album was geared towards a heavier rock sound with at least 9 songs that have already been introduced into the live rotation along with seven debut tracks never heard before. While this may change as the album starts coming together, I would like to share my predictions on what I hope to see on the new album.
A bust out debut tune from this past year’s Umbowl, “No Diablo” has only showed its sassy face at special events like Chautauqua the day after Red Rocks and in Chicago during this summer’s STUMP run. This tune has classic written all over it with a motown essence that the whole band grooves to. It was originally written by Bayliss for Jake’s son and holds a lot of passion in its obscure meaning. Ultimately, it is a crockpot of advice from a mentor to a young grasshopper.
Room to Breathe
First played at Summer Camp 2011, “Room to Breathe” has a definite Umph sound. It’s a progressive tune with angsty content that captures an energy of frustration. The song builds until it reaches it’s final chorus and you just can’t help but sing along. Almost everyone can relate to the sense of time in this song and the reality that a ticking clock is one of the strongest sources of pressure we all face.
Another bust out from Scamp 2011, “Puppet String” immediately became part of Umph’s rotation and has continued to gain momentum over past last two years. In fact, there was a ton of upset that it didn’t make it onto Death by Stereo, which came out only a couple months after the song’s debut. Stasik’s baseline in “Puppet Strings” demands your attention while Bayliss’s lyrics help everyone relate to the song’s message. You can’t help but thrash your head as the song’s build up eventually explodes, breaking down the walls that surround it as it makes the listener rethink reality as it’s been presented.
“Loose Ends” was made to be a studio track and will sound great on the next album. It has a post grunge rock sound that has been polished up since it was first played in 2012. Bayliss’s lyrics and delivery are perfectly complemented by song’s meaning and sound. It is basically about moving on, or rather refusing to move on when the past still holds you back.
First played at Summer Camp 2012, “Crucial Taunt” showcases Umph’s technical side. It is lyrically complex and Jake’s guitar spits out a stream of notes that makes you wonder if he is an alien from another dimension. The song’s name came from a fan after Bayliss shared they couldn’t decide on a title for the track and they were open to suggestions. If you are unaware, “Crucial Taunt” was the name of Cassandra’s band in the movie Wayne’s World.
Cut the Cable
It may be a long shot, but I can’t help but hope for “Cut the Cable” to be on the next album. Originally a lyrical stew, this song got everyone all hot and bothered right off the bat. It was labeled a 30db tune by Bayliss at first, yet kept popping up in Umph setlists as a Jimmy Stewart. Fans have practically demanded it be kept in Umph’s live rotation yet it has only been played a handful of times. It’s hard to say if “Cut the Cable” has reached enough maturity to be put on a studio album… but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed!
Originally debuted in 2010, this song quickly became a impov vehicle for Umph. The long, expansive jams that come out of this beastly tune helped it land a spot on Umphrey’s Hall of Fame 2010. “The Linear” has already been played 20 times in 2013, often anchoring a setlist, and usually filling more than 15 minutes of a set. The lyrics flow with an almost rap-like quality to them and the composition of the song showcase’s every members skills, especially Joel’s souful keys.
The Triple Wide
After ten years of perfecting this instrumental song, it is about time it made it onto a studio album! ”The Triple Wide” is a dance party through and through. It has been played over 300 times by Umphrey’s, never failing to provide the perfect platform for an unforgettable, hip swaying, freak nasty, dance party.
Wizard Burial Ground
If you are not familiar with “Wizard Burial Ground”, it is a creation that was birthed in the depths of hell. This song has an amazing ability to turn you to the dark side in a matter of seconds without ever looking back. I could go into more detail about the ups and downs of how this jam flows but I would rather show you….
This video s a “Wizard Burial Ground” from Summer Camp 2009, one of Umph’s most epic moments to date!
The devastation caused by flooding in Colorado has effected many members of our Summer Camp community. Nearly 2,000 homes are unlivable and hundreds of families lost everything. Many are now forced to rebuild their lives and spirits with whatever wasn’t destroyed by waters that tore through their neighborhoods. Being washed out of your home is a mighty large pill to swallow but, in all reality, this type of natural disaster could happen to anyone, regardless of where you live.
Back in the day people used to donate their own time, money, and energy to support a cause. They would stand in the streets with signs and volunteer at shelters in order to change the world around them. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. These days most people sit around and watch tragedies unfold on their TV sets, in the comforts of their own home. They might talk about it at school or work, commenting on how sad it must be, passionately saying, “Someone should do something about it.” Somewhere along the way our generation has lost the courage to stand up and do something about it themselves. They assume someone else or maybe even our government will take care of these tragic situations that happen around the world.
This is not the case within our Summer Camp community and this is what sets us apart from every other festival. Summer Camp is more than a festival, it is a family. I personally know at least 5 Summer Campers that have had their lives flipped upside down by this natural disaster and their accounts of the devastation are heart breaking.
Luckily, we are a community that supports each other in times of need. Across the board Summer Camp artists, Make-a-Difference nonprofits, and even individual Scampers are donating their money, time, and energy towards flood relief and rebuilding efforts.
Many Summer Camp artists and bands have stepped up in unique ways to help aid devastated Colorado communities.
One of our favorite late night acts, Lotus, was right in the thick of it when the flooding occurred. Their September 13th Red Rocks show had to be postponed due to the rain and lack of safe roadways to the venue. They immediately turned this upset around by hosting a benefit show that same evening at the Armoury in Denver in order to raise funds for the Red Cross. Lotus’s opening acts and Summer Camp Alumni, Minnesota and Break Science, also hosted a last minute fundraiser that raised over $5,000 for United Way’s Flood Relief Fund.
STS9 has taken a different route by donating all proceeds from merchandise, along with live recording sales, to help raise over $10,000 for Colorado. Many other bands have been holding food and supply drives during their shows for those displaced due to evacuations. Some bands, like Yonder Mountain String Band, have chosen to donate 100% of proceeds from their Colorado shows towards rebuilding communities effected by the floods. Just by enjoying these shows, attendees will be contributing to flood relief efforts: a win/win situation for all involved.
Big Gigantic is hosting Flood Relief Benefit shows this weekend, Sept. 27th and 28th at the Fillmore in Denver and at Red Rocks Amphitheater, respectively. They will be donating a portion of ticket sales directly to Conscious Alliance’s Flood Relief Fund along with collecting supplies and food for those washed out. Big G will also be hosting a Big Gigantic Cleanup Day with details still to be determined. This act has really stepped up in a BIG way for their home state and Summer Camp favorite nonprofit, Conscious Alliance will be bringing the food and supplies collected to hundreds of Colorado families directly effected by the floods.
Now you may ask yourself, “What can I do?” and the truth is A LOT! I am a firm believer that grassroots efforts can truly make a difference and I know from first had experience that everyone has an ability to change the world in their own special way.
There are tons of opportunities where you can personally help Colorado. While donating money may be the easiest solution, you can also contribute by hosting fundraisers and supply drives. Setting up these types of events isn’t as difficult as you might think. You would be surprised how many businesses or even family members would be happy to support your cause if you just took the time to ask. Garage sales, party hosting, and benefit car washes are all easy ways to bring in money. Organizing a “split the pot” at your favorite bar or a bake sale at your school is easy as pie, literally.
You can also donate your time. Simply sending an email out to your friends and family with a link to a charity you believe it like Conscious Alliance can help raise more money than you might expect. Better yet, taking the time to roll up your sleeves to help clean up would make the world of difference to those who have to rebuild their lives and homes.
I personally wanted to do something to help a family I knew had lost everything in the Colorado floods. So I had the idea of holding some sort of raffle during my birthday party in Chicago last weekend. Since most of my friends and family would be there, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do some good in the midst of opening presents and blowing out candles. I got in touch with Umphrey’s McGee to see if they were interested in donating a couple of prizes for our raffle. While Umprhey’s had already announced they would be contributing a percentage of ticket sales to flood relief, they were more than happy to gift us some awesome merchandise for the raffle. With just a few t-shirts, a signed poster, and some DVDs, we were able to raise over $400 for a family who lost everything in Lyons, CO. This is an example of grass roots at its finest.
For those of you living in Denver, on October 14th Umphrey’s \UM/ Mondays will be hosting a fundraiser where they will be raffling off a variety of items for flood victims. This group of Umphrey’s fans have been getting together at their favorite Denver bars to listen to live Umphrey’s and drink some heady beers for over a year. They knew this weekly event was a perfect opportunity to get their community involved in flood relief. They are now accepting donations through their Facebook page or you can just show up to the fundraiser! Awesome prizes and an awesome time is guaranteed!
Visit Help Colorado NOW to donate directly to Colorado counties effect by the floods or come out to one of our many Summer Camp community events to support the cause. Or, better yet, host your own!
Let’s show Colorado just how much our Summer Camp family cares!
Indianapolis holds a special place in Umphrey’s McGee history. The band loves playing this city and they always have a great turnout from both fans and family. STS9, on the other had, capitalized on an opportunity to expand their fan base on STUMP tour by infiltrating Umph territory and impressing everyone with a stellar performance in the midst of a beautiful sun set.
I arrived in Indy early Friday afternoon, so early I was able to park right next to the venue just in time to catch Umphrey’s sound check. Security wasn’t posted up at the gates just yet so I walked right into the venue to enjoy my own private show. The best part was, no one really seemed to care I was there because they were too busy preparing for a flawless show at this imaculate outdoor venue.
After STS9′s sound check I decided to explore White River State Park, which is located in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. It is surrounded by Indiana University, museums, and even a zoo. I spent the rest of my afternoon walking around the park and came back to the venue just in time for the gates to open.
It wasn’t long before Up Until Now kicked off the festivities. This DJ has a funky dance party sound with a lot of hip hop elements added to the mix. He is pretty high energy and progressive so it was strange seeing him throw down when the sun was still high in the sky. He entertained the crowd as they ventured into the venue, picked up their free lawn chairs, and found themselves a comfortable spot on the grass. The lights were ineffective due to the sun and the small crowd of people who made it to the show that early in the day seemed distracted with getting shwilled and eating corndogs.
I took some time to check out the merch booth and I noticed quite a bit of new swag made specially for STUMP tour. Each show actually has a limited edition pin you could pick up along with STUMP summer tour t-shirts and posters. Both bands also had some pretty fly new gear to showcase on this tour like Umph’s ”Rage.Rest.Repeat” belts and STS9′s neon sunglasses.
Everyone started to settle in The Lawn once STS9 finally took the stage…
Set 1: STS9
STS9 kicked off night 2 of the 14 show tour with a laid back tune called “Grizzly.” Since this was an outdoor venue and the sun was still up, they had to adjust to playing in the daylight, something these festival headliners rarely experience these days.
Saxton’s LED screens provided a psychedelic backdrop for the band and their set eventually cracked open with energy. The treat of the set was “From Now On.” This song rarely makes in into the rotation these days and it was great to see the band get excited to be there, in that specific moment in time.
The crowd started to fill in and by the end of the set the lawn was packed with people. The sun began to set behind the stage and STS9 played a fantastic, yet safe show for a crowd of mostly Umprhey’s fans. They ended with F Word and 20-12, leaving us all on the edge of our lawn chairs with anticipation for the night’s headliners, Umprehy’s McGee.
Grizzly, Equinox, EHM, Inspire Strikes Back, From Now On, Metameme, Kaya, Grow, What Is Love?, Hidden Hand Hidden Fist, Really What?, Rent, F Word, 20-12
Set 2: Umph
The crowd exploded with excitement when Umphrey’s McGee finally took the stage for the second set of the evening. There was at least twice as many people at the Indianapolis show compared to the night before in Louisville and the majority were there to watch Umphrey’s epicness unfold.
The set began with a polished “Believe the Lie” right into a powerful ”Words.” You could tell right off the bat Umph was aiming high with this show. I was right in the thick of it, not too far from the rail when “Hurt Bird Bath” started. I could sense an insane energy percolate through the crowd as the song progressed through its motions. By the time the lights matched the energy of the music I thought I was going to go insane. I moved farther back for a better view of the lights and to give myself some space to clear my mind. For a short girl like me, The Lawn offers great lines of sight no matter where you are standing. Therefore, it really didn’t matter where I ended up at this point in the evening, so long as I could hear the beautiful music and see the pretty lights.
Towards the end of the last set the baseball stadium next to White River State Park had an amazing fireworks show, coinciding perfectly with Umph’s “Mulche’s Odyssey.” The song seemed to last forever and I was completely torn between watching the explosions next door and Waful’s light show. Let’s just say Indiana sure knows a thing or two about blowing things up!
Umphey’s encore ended the night on a high note. During “Preabmle”>”Mantis (Ghetts)” Umph threw in some STS9 flavor by teasing “Ramone & Emiglio.” Joel then came out blazing on vocals for Pink Floyd’s ”In the Flesh” before David Phipps joined him on keys. David Murphy also replaced Ryan Stasik on bass as the group journeyed into ”Another Brick in the Wall.” Witnessing this switchup made the crowd go absolutely bonkers and an epic dance party was had by all….
Believe the Lie > Words, Hurt Bird Bath, Deeper > Cemetery Walk, Cemetery Walk II, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Mulche’s Odyssey, The Floor
Encore: Preamble > Mantis Ghetts > In the Flesh > Another Brick in the Wall
 with Dave Murphy replacing Ryan and David Phipps joining Joel
Check out more photos here!
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.
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.
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 @ http://www.thebarnpresents.com)
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 @ http://www.thebarnpresents.com)
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.
What’s better than seeing Umphrey’s McGee at Summerfest? Seeing Umphrey’s McGee at Summerfest for free. Each day, Summerfest offers admission promotions, such as a canned food drive in exchange for a free ticket. On Tuesday, July 2nd, there was no promotion. Simply, admission was free for everybody from 12-3. So without thinking twice, I of course went down to the grounds shortly after 12 to get in for free, and left right away with a re-entry wristband that is good until 7 pm. Perfect.
UM was headling the Big Backyard stage, which is my personal favorite stage at Summerfest. The opening act, Grace Weber & EMEFE, is definitely worth mentioning. I had never heard of them before, but I definitely remember them now! I was confused during the show because Grace Weber, who just sang, was only on stage for about half of the show. Turns out, Grace Weber & EMEFE are 2 different bands that collaborated just for the show. To be honest, I’m not even 100% sure how to pronounce EMEFE, but they know how to make me dance. They had about a dozen members – a horn section, drums, guitar, bass, keys – the whole 9 yards. And it’s probably worth noting every one of them had a mustache. I classify them as a funky jazz jam band. I’ve researched they are a small band from New York, so hopefully they gain enough support to tour through the Midwest again soon!
So, anyways, this band Umphrey’s McGee, brought the heat. I knew we were in for a treat when Joel told me earlier in the day via the Twitter (after I asked) that it’d be 1 extended set and an encore. A lot of my favorite UM shows are 1 setters (example: 10K ’07). Le Blitz as an opener was the perfect anticipation builder to lead into a great show. After Wife Soup, Bayliss dedicated the next song to “all the ladies who chose to spend their time with us instead of New Kids on the Block.” NKOTB was headlining the Marcus Amphitheater at the same time. So expecting to hear a poppy cover song, instead we get a gold classic heavy metal Guns n Roses cover of It’s So Easy. Lol. Well played, Umphrey’s. A few songs later, Joel introduces Kevin Sinclair to come out to join on saxophone, as they crush a Pay the Snucka into Let’s Dance by David Bowie. The lyrics were switched in Pay the Snucka to “Stasik, go have a baby, a baby, will make you tired as hell.” Small things like lyric changes are reasons I love this band so much. You never know what to expect; it’s always different and improving. Speaking of not knowing what to expect, dear lord what an encore!!! Seriously, Dear Lord. I have been in love with that song ever since I heard it at The Rave back in ’09. They had already melted my face with a raging Deeper > Tinkles, which I thought would have segued right into the ending of Snucka, but instead they snuck a blissful Dear Lord that myself and the rest of the crowd loved.
Before the encore, Joel announced the band would be returning to The Riverside Theater in Milwaukee for 3 nights of Halloween this year. Mark your calendars, people: 10/31/13-11/2/13.
Setlist (source: allthings.umphreys.com) :
1: Le Blitz > Plunger, Turn & Dub > Mail Package > Wife Soup, It’s So Easy (Guns n Roses), Robot World > Out of Order, Pay the Snucka@ > Let’s Dance@ (David Bowie), Bright Lights, Big City > Another Brick in the Wall (Pink Floyd), 2×2 > No Comment > 2×2
E: Deeper > Miss Tinkle’s Overture, Dear Lord > Pay the Snucka
@ Kevin Sinclair on saxophone
Summer Camp ‘Counselor in Training’ Tiffany Narron captures Umphrey’s McGee’s private VIP performance at Scamp’s one and only church, a true heart-melting, soul searching rawk-bawls time! Enjoy: Umphrey’s McGee Rocks the Church- Summer Camp Music Festival 2013
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.