If you have seen Buffalo, NY’s Aqueous live before, odds are your face melted off.
Aqueous is made up of Mike Gantzer ( vocals / guitar ), Dave Loss ( vocals / keys / guitar ), Evan McPhaden ( bass ), and Nick Sonricker ( drums ). I don’t think i could put it better than they have on their site – “Aqueous is a genre melting, funk-tastic groove/rock band known for bringing high energy shows night after night. Catchy songwriting, shredding guitars, tight infectious grooves, and spot on improvisation keep crowds dancing right from the first beat.”
Since these guys are from my hometown, I have been lucky enough to catch them enough times I can’t count on two hands, and every show is a unique showcase of pure talent. Aqueous rocked the Campfire stage this past year, and nothing makes me happier than their return at this years Summer Camp Music Festival!
I had a chance to catch up with Mike recently to ask him a few questions….
Do you have a favorite Summer Camp Music Festival memory?
At Summer Camp 2013, I remember being completely floored by the Mike Dillion Band’s set, and was grateful to experience it with some fellow musicians from other bands on the festival. Their show was just…complete rock and roll. Insane!
Do you have new album or tracks coming out soon?
We’ve recently released a new installment of our live series “Live Nugs” that we’re psyched about. It’s a compilation of musical highlights from the Fall 2013 tour. We’ll be back in the studio early April to record a new studio album too, lots of new material headed your way!
What’s your favorite summer meal / BBQ? What’s your favorite summer beverage of choice?
Pizza Rolls and Blue Gatorade with Vodka. Haha Just kidding, I’d probably say a super solid burger with BBQ sauce, and corn on the cob with some beans. I’d likely wash it down with some lemonade, or a Blue moon, or both, for summer’s sake.
Do you have any secret places you like to go stop on tour in the summer and hike, or swim or fish?
Dave’s allergic to the sun, so absolutely not. But really, there’s so many places that we’ve explored and enjoyed that my brain is melting trying to recall just one!
What are some of your biggest musical influences?
I think Pink Floyd was the biggest common denominator for us years and years ago, and that’s developed into all kinds of stuff, from Jeff Beck to Nas to Muse and everything in between. Anything that’s excellent!
You guys are from Buffalo, NY. What are some benefits as musicians coming from the WNY music scene?
We’re super lucky to be coming out of Buffalo, it’s a great central point to route shows from, there’s a wonderful and supportive music and arts scene, and it’s nice to have a contrast in weather, I think we all really appreciate the summer because of the intense winters!
What are some of your dream venues / Where is the coolest place you have performed so far?
Lewiston’s Artpark is memorable for us given the beautiful scenery behind it, and it was cool to play with Ziggy Marley! Beyond that, there’s a lot of super cool clubs with awesome people working there, Nectar’s in Burlington, VT, The Crooked I in Erie, PA, The Brooklyn Bowl in NY, we’ve even played in a sick old Masonic Temple.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform live?
We’re typically the most excited by the newer songs we write, it’s fun and exciting to see how they develop and gauge the crowd reactions to them. Beyond that, I think we usually enjoy super left field covers!
You guys are in the midst of your first ever Buffalo residency. The buzz has been great! How did you guys come up with the weekly themes?
We’ve had an awesome time being strange and thinking outside of the box for the residency shows. Thus far, the “Willy Wonka” theme was probably my personal favorite for the sheer creepiness and wonder of the content, and there’s been so much awesome energy every week.
The Willy Wonka theme was so much fun! Alright last question for ya. If you could be one animal, what would it be?
An anteater, or a glorious Pegasus.
I think besides the fact that these dudes always kill it live, their fan base is made up of a very unique group of people. I asked a couple of fans on what they feel about Aqueous. Crystal said, “They play amazing music, and its been awesome to see them develop into the band they are now.”
Layla had such a genuine response. “…I will say that I have never felt so strongly, felt so much love for any band or musician in all my 53 years on this planet.”
You still have plenty of chances to see Aqueous and dance your heart away before they rock Summer Camp for the 2nd year.Check out their upcoming tour dates:
March 12 – Burlington, VT – Nectars
March 13 – Syracuse, NY – The Lost Horizon
March 14 – Toronto, ON – The Rivoli
March 15 – Erie, PA – Crooked i
March 17 – Stratton Mtn., VT – Grizzly’s Bar
March 19 – Burlington, VT – Nectar’s
March 20 – Oneonta, NY – Black Oak Tavern
March 21 – Ithaca, NY – Lot 10
March 26 – Burlington, VT – Nectar’s
March 27 – Portsmouth, NH – Thirsty Moose
March 28 – Kenilworth, NJ – 10th Street Live
March 29 – Plains, PA – River Street Jazz Cafe
April 17 – Port Chester, NY – Garcia’s
April 18 – Somerville, MA – Johnny D’s
April 19 – Newmarket, NH – The Stone Church
April 24 – Saratoga Srings, NY – Putnam Den
April 25 – Syracuse, NY – The Westcott Theater
April 26 – Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room
May 3 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
May 23 – 25 – Chillicothe, IL – SUMMER CAMP MUSIC FESTIVAL!!
1) Darren Kemp
2) Lindsey Robinson Photography
Umphrey’s McGee threw a celebration for their triumphant return to the Riviera Theater from February 20th to the 22nd. It had been a long wait since their last three night run of shows in Chicago and the build up was almost unbearable. Needless to say, the creative energy was flowing all weekend and these concerts showcased some of Umphrey’s best work to date.
Buckets of rain flooded the city streets and sidewalks before the show on Thursday. Luckily, meteorologist Tom Skilling warning me of adverse weather conditions on Chicago’s WGN Midday News. I just so happened to tune in because Umphrey’s McGee was the show’s musical guest of the day. The band performed “No Diablo,” “Puppet String,” and “The Linear” throughout the hour long news program and the 30 second clips of my favorite band were just enough to send me over the edge with excitement.
Umphrey’s kicked off the first night of the run with an intro called “October Rain” playing over the loud speaker as the band walked onto the Riviera’s stage. They then took to their instruments and began to play along with the track. Umphrey’s immediately harnessed the room’s energy and once they found themselves in a free flowing groove, the band quickly segued into the frat party anthem: “40′s Theme.” Guitarist Jake Cinninger kept the song in Old Dirty Bastard territory, without letting it get too heavy.
After a contained version of “The Linear,” the song “White Man’s Moccasins’” hectically tripped into a maze of focused energy led by keyboardist Joel Cummins. There was a special feeling to the show that night. It almost seemed like everyone in the room was attending some sort of family reunion. Not to mention that the Riviera Theater is like the “Ghost of Concerts Past.” Its elegant chandeliers and pealing ceiling paint make you wonder what it looked like during its hay day. The balcony has perfect lines of site and a clear sound can be heard from almost every seat, even without headphones. The old theater chairs are so warn you can practically feel the springs stretch as they struggle to support you. I’ve seen dozens of shows at this particular venue but Umphrey’s NYE show from 2010 takes the cake. Needless to say, this time around felt just a special.
“Much Obliged” continued the show until it eventually hit an uplifting jam that provoked a lyrical Jimmy Stewart from Brendan Bayliss. This freestyle segment set the room ablaze with its indiscernible words just before it slammed into “Kimble.” The awkward change of pace was followed by “Morning Song” which seems to strike a nerve every time I hear it live, and always for a different reason. This time it was slow and controlled. See for yourself thanks to Tourgigs:
The first set ended with a grand version of “The Floor” that opened up into a progressive build that left me immediately impatient for more music.
After a longer than average set break, Umphrey’s chugged their way back on stage like a slow moving train. They started off the set with an appropriate “Slacker” that coincided perfectly with their tardiness. A hectic jam was complemented by sweeping laser beams of light that originated from the back of the stage and penetrated those of us in the audience. The show continued with a “Higgins” that restrained the band’s energy before it was finally allowed to gain momentum.
A big “Oh no!” came from the crowd as they witnessed the stage crew set up a microphone in front of bassist Ryan Stasik. Everyone knew this was when things would get weird. “Sad Gorillaz” is an Umphrey’s mashup of Metallica’s ”Sad But True” and Gorillaz’s “Clint Eastwood”. This particular version showcased an entertaining lyrical Jimmy Stewart sung by Stasik and its contents covered everything from xanax to Care Bears. He ended the sonnet with, “What the fuck… is happening?”
In contrast, Stasik later provided a moving bass solo to push forward the first few frames of “August.” As the rest of the band started to chime in, I couldn’t help notice the hush that had fallen over the crowd. Ryan Stasik is the male version of a diva and the whole room seemed completely captivated by him. I’m fairly certain he wore at least six different outfits over the course of three shows that weekend, which must be a record for any bassist.
By the time ”August” reached the raging jam, “Snake Juice,” I couldn’t help notice the whole room was thrashing. Umphrey’s then went back into ”August” to help bookend the segment.
The second set of Thursday night eventually ended with “Hurt Bird Bath.” This song always feels like an intense journey to a magical place. Waful held the tension of the room until his lights ignited into an explosion of color like never before. This combination of adventurous sounds and stimulating visuals provided a limitless moment of bliss only felt by being in the right place at the right time. It’s no wonder this song always invokes Umphrey’s fans to ”Woo…”
The show’s encore came just after midnight with a complete version of ”Pay the Snucka” that featured an insane guitar solo from Jake Cinninger. I use the word “insane” very literally here because a close friend of mine started to lose his shit at this point in the show. It was as if Jake channeled some sort of heavy metal death god and was sealing the fate of our souls with rapid fire guitar notes. And so, the first night of Umphrey’s in Chicago came to a close.
Encore: Pay the Snucka
 with The Fuzz jam and “Jimmy Stewart” with lyrics
 with White Summer (Led Zeppelin) jam
By the second night, wind gusts had torn all the letters off the Riviera’s marquee. A longer than average line wrapped around the venue for this sold out show because many fans, like myself, just couldn’t wait for the next round of Umphrey’s McGee.
The show kicked off with the slow growing intro called ”A Mild Sedative” and eventually exploded into the first notes off the album Anchor Drops. This version of “Plunger” contained a frantic jam to start the Friday show off right. It peaked with an abrupt stop-and-go section that slowly evolved into group improv unlike anything Umphrey’s has ever played before. Up next was “Passing.” Though it was a short and sweet, it stabilized the room’s energy before Umphrey’s launched into “The Crooked One.” There was a tension that was present when the song first started but ten minutes later, it turned into a glorious progressive jam that was bathed in Jefferson Waful’s lights.
The song “Comma Later” was played so impressively that night, many of those who once hated the tune are now sold on its potential. It’s jam was thick with disco grooves and peaked over, and over again. This was the type of moment die hard Umphrey’s fans live for and it was a total game changer for this particular Umphrey’s song.
Friday’s first set ended with a 20 minute ”Preamble> Mantis Ghetts>Mantis” and closed on a Cinninger peak. It was so intense, Jake had to turn his back to the audience while he became frozen in the moment. It was obvious the guitarist was in prime form that night. He aligned the whole room on his frequency, practically demanded we get on his level or be left in the dust.
I guess you could say that the first set of Friday night was looser than a ’lot girl’ at the end of Phish’s summer tour. In fact, the first hour of music was so robust, a set break was welcomed this time around.
“All In Time” kicked off the second set. This classic Umph song contained a jam led by percussionist Andy Farag that subtly turtled to its peak until Jake unleashed like a viper, shredding it to pieces.
“The Triple Wide” began as a dedication to the band’s friends and family that were there in the audience that night. Then, in the middle of the song, half of the band ventured up into the balcony to rage right next to their loved ones. It was something Umphrey’s has recently started to experiment with since they’ve started playing with wireless technology. Needless to say, the crowd was wildly entertained by the theatrics and even chanted, “USA…USA…” in approval.
“Hajimemashite” started out pretty standard but once the first verse was complete, Umphrey’s immediately transitioned into the song ”Glory.” The rest of the tune bounced back between the two songs as if they were always meant to be played together. It was a moment of pure grace like I’ve never experienced before. Check out the video shot by Tourgigs:
After the mesmerizing “Haji/Glory” combo, Bayliss took a moment to thank the crew and introduce his fellow band members. A song played as each member was introduced and the band even completed a whole verse of Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” after Kris Myer’s introduction. The group then went into the jazzy old school favorite “Prowler” that almost immediately transitioned into a 10 minute “Intentions Clear.”
All of the night’s cover songs came at the end of the show and I have to admit, I was kind of embarrassed I knew every word of Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days.” Most folks around me seemed lost but I still sang each verse as loud as I could. The set ended with “Hangover” and included a tease of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” and a full verse from Hendrix’s ”Voodoo Child.”
Jake Cinninger dedicated the encore to South Bend then delivered the first verse of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” For the final song of the night, Umphrey’s McGee played a heavy version of “1348″ that left everyone in the room satisfied. The show, overall, contained everything that is wonderful about this band. Every jam was executed perfectly and you could really tell the whole band was actively listening to each other that evening. Friday’s show was definitely the highlight of the weekend.
Set 2: All In Time, The Triple Wide, Hajimemashite > Glory > Hajimemashite > Glory, Prowler > Intentions Clear -> Dance Hall Days, Hangover > Voodoo Child > HangoverEncore: Comfortably Numb > 1348
 with Hajimemashite teases
 with La Grange (ZZ Top) jam
Saturday felt like I was seeing a completely different band. After the debut of Umphrey’s newest intro, “Bathing Digits,” a massive “Phil’s Farm” circled in and out of a back woods jam that wouldn’t let you forget its twangy roots. The rest of the set was nothing to tell mom about. The beginning of “Miami Virtue” almost fooled me into thinking it was “Nothing Too Fancy”, which was kind of a let down. I was waiting for that epic, jaw on the floor moment but, for some reason, this set never hit it. ”2nd Self,” ”Thin Air,” and “Red Tape” weren’t as tight as they could have been and it felt uncomfortable.
“Bad Friday” was probably one of the most anticipated songs of the weekend, but it just didn’t hit the level awesomeness it did when it first debuted this past New Years Eve. Check out the Tourgigs footage:
Overall, this part of the run lacked the free flow of energy that existed on Thursday and Friday. The second half of the first set featured Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger on acoustic guitars. For a band with such high energy live shows, this type of breakdown is usually saved for special occasions. I have to admit, I actually started to cry during Bayliss’s touching delivery of “The Weight Around.” To top it off, the band was joined by a spunky singer named Daphne Willis for backup vocals on another acoustic rarity: ”Bullhead City.” Overall, Umphrey’s acoustic treatment was very personal and salvaged what was left of the set, which finally came to an end with a short cover of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves.”
Whatever took place during the first half of the Saturday show was most definitely overshadowed by the five song second set that power houred through to the end of the Chicago run. The jam of the night, maybe even the whole run, was a 27 minute DBK that invaded the galaxy. ”Just What I Needed” was a quaint cover before “Divisions” dove deep into a sea of slow paced progression. It was followed by a strange version of “Believe the Lie” that started out sounding like a Zappa cover. I’m pretty sure this trickery was part of the show because shit just kept getting more and more weird.
Overall, the theatrics that weekend pushed the boundaries of Umphrey’s stage show. Wireless guitars allowed members to utilize their stage space like never before. Mix in Waful’s strobe lights and you could barely see Stasik and Cinninger wandering around the back of the stage and messing with the other band members. The second set came to a close with an overly controlled “Puppet String” that was stripped down until right before the song’s raving peak.
For the final encore, drummer Kris Myers sat behind his kit only to admit he didn’t know how to play the next song on the setlist. Conveniently enough, Myers found the Smashing Pumpkins’ drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, on the side of the stage. Chamberlin then took over Kris’s drums so Umphrey’s could cover the Pumpkins’ classic, ”Cherub Rock.” The audience was overjoyed to share in this authentic home town experience.
 debut, original
 with Brendan and Jake on acoustics
 with Brendan and Jake on acoustics, and with Daphne Willis on vocals
 debut, The Cars
 with Jimmy Chamberlain on drums and Kris on percussion
So the highly anticipated Chicago run finally came to an end. Overall the weekend was extremely relaxed and controlled. Friday definitely stands out as the most successful night of the run and I would highly recommend you give it a listen.
And now… your closing line up… for each night of Summer Camp Music Festival 2014… drum roll please… LIVE BANDS IN THE RED BARN!!!!
Every year Summer Camp picks the best of the best for their Late Night Shows in the Red Barn, sometimes even mixing and matching heavy hitters from different bands to form a super-group of sorts. But not this year… no, this year Summer Camp HQ decided to give us more of what we love! With many of the best acts on their line up taking over the Red Barn each night, the hardest part will be deciding which late night is right for you.
My purpose is to provide counsel in moments like these, so the following paragraphs will give you all the background you need in order to make the decision as to which ticketed Late Night Shows are right for you. Choose wisely or miss out…
Friday Late Night Show
Friday’s Late Night Show in the Red Barn will feature a gypsy sideshow better known as Beats Antique. True to their gypsy style, this group’s sound doesn’t really have a genre to call home. They are ethnic, earthy, yet electronic and very dance oriented. They put on a show as if it were a theatrical performance with belly dancing, costumes, and a consistent flow of chaotic energy being delivered to their audience.
Also on Friday’s Late Night bill is Summer Camp and Late Night veterans LOTUS! The news of their triumphant return to the Red Barn has put a smile on my face, and the fact that they get this coveted late night spot is beyond righteous. This band’s sophisticated style has earned them respect by everyone in our scene. They bridge the gap between jam and electronic music. There is something graceful about the way Lotus plays, like they are building a peaceful connection between their instruments and our ears. I have to be honest here, I never know the names of Lotus songs when I hear them live. All I know is they do something to my soul where I can’t help but fall in love with every note. This band has a way of taking me to the other side of Jupiter. After seeing them over a dozen times, I can promise you this: Lotus always delivers. I am going to go ahead and say this late night will probably be one of the best sets of the weekend. In fact, I’d bet a late night ticket on it!
I am pretty sure Camp Counselor Kyle agrees with me on this – thanks to him for creating the video above!
Saturday Late Night Show
Saturday is guaranteed to be one of the most stacked single days of music in the history of Summer Camp, which means that a lot of energy will have to be conserved in order to rage proper all the way into the wee hours of the morning. The Red Barn will once again be flipped upside down for a late night show that starts off with Gramatik. This is the only DJ on the late night line up, and he probably could headline the barn all on his own but he is actually co-headlining this stage with the funk machine better known as Lettuce!
Lettuce is dirty… and I mean that in the nastiest way possible. Who could forget how we danced our asses off as rain soaked into our souls during their day set at the Moonshine stage at last year? The waves of funk washed over the crowd as if we were bobbing in a sea of funky goodness.
This set was so funking good Lettuce decided to return in order to lay down the beats that make funk prosper. Us fans are attracted to their anything goes style and distinct flavor in the world of funk. This band produces a synergy between its members where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Lettuce is a super group through and through. When Pretty Lights decided he wanted to tour with a live band this past fall, these were some the musicians he tapped to be on the roster. Their late night set is guaranteed to sweat out a day’s worth of rage. So, Lettuce turnip the beet that Saturday night, shall we?
If you still need some convincing, Camp Counselor Nick Stock’s advice just might seal the deal:
“If you are going to see Lettuce I suggest you bring a shovel to pick your jaw up off the floor. This musical powerhouse is producing some of the best live funk happening today. If you enjoy getting slapped hard by the dirty funk find yourself in the crowd for Lettuce at Summer Camp this year…. wait it’s late night? Bring two shovels.”
Sunday Late Night Show
On Sunday night, our fest headliners, Umphrey’s McGee, will be downsizing their Summer Camp stage production to give every Umphreak more of what they signed up for. If you haven’t read my blog posts before, you may not be aware just how much I love this band. This year’s Summer Camp will mark my ten year anniversary with Umprhey’s McGee. Their love for their fans is unlike any other band and we just can’t seem to get enough. We are addicts and rawk is our drug of choice. So why not give us just one more hit to seal the deal and blast us off into Umph ecstasy?
If you are not an Umphreak you should probably skip this show. Summer Campers will get to see Umphrey’s throw down some of their best material during their headlining slots on Friday and Saturday nights. That should be plenty for any newbie trying to get a feel for what this band is all about. But if you are just as obsessed as I am with this band, good luck scoring a late night, and may the odds be ever in your favor…
Check out a fan shot video from Umphrey’s Summer Camp late night set in 2010:
Be prepared when tickets for these Late Night Shows n the Red Barn go on sale (dates should be announced soon), because they will sell out in seconds! I know firsthand how much this sucks (and getting shut out can make you bitter), but when you finally DO get your hands on that coveted late night ticket, it is all the sweeter!
If you really want the ultimate Summer Camp experience, you could always lock down a late night by purchasing a VIP Upgrade to the fest. Those tickets go on sale on Friday at 10:00 AM Central.
And don’t forget, the Late Night Shows in the Red Barn are just a portion of what Summer Camp offers after the sun goes down! Stay tuned for our thoughts on what’s always an incredible Thursday night in the Red Barn, as well as the nightly Late Night Campfire Jams, the never-ending party over in the Late Night Vibe Tent, as well as the always entertaining Late Night at the Soulshine Tent! I know i’m eagerly anticipating announcements for each of these too…
It has been a while since I personally have gotten to a show and hitting up Umphrey’s McGee and The Werks last weekend was a perfect end to my drought. The Fillmore in downtown Detroit always provides a very intimate setting for every act I have seen there over the years. I love the beautiful cathedral ceilings and artwork.
Umphrey’s really gave us a great performance including a cover of Simple Mind’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” to commemorate the recent loss of their original drummer Mike Mirro. Brendon Bayliss gave a heartfelt speech during the song. Here is a video with audio of the performance featuring a slide show of pictures of Mike:
And here is a transcription of the speech Brenden gives:
“You know Detroit, looking out tonight, seeing so many people…words cannot express how good it feels to be onstage playing live music after so many years together we’ve been doing this. I don’t even know how many, it’s like 16 or something. Way back when we were in college we were starting this thing and it was like, when you’re in college you’re a kid, you have no idea what the fuck you’re supposed to do with the rest of your life, but they tell you you have 4 years to figure it out and you gotta do it well, right?
You know when we started, we were playing bars and 15, 16, 20 people would come out and we’d make about $18 and we were full of self doubt and we had no idea that it was going to get to this point where we are right now. And so I want you guys to know when you’re full of doubt and you have no idea what’s going on in your life and you’re down and you’re out, you’re not thinking anything is going anywhere, it happens to everybody, everybody in this room is in the same position. We all have no fucking clue what is going on. So just believe and have faith because everything will work out in the end. It works out for me, it works out for him, it works out for him, it works out for her, for you, for you, for him, for everybody.”
- Brendan Bayliss
Overall the show was amazing and the band played very tight in my opinion all night long. Opening with 40′s theme gave me a good idea early on that the band was here to give us a good show.
SET I: October Rain, 40′s Theme, Domino Theory, #5, In The Kitchen, Utopian Fir, The Message, Utopian Fir
Set II: Bright Lights, Big City, Hangover, Hurt Bird Bath, Don’t You Forget About Me, Bass Solo, August, Mulche’s Odyssey
Encore: Puppet String
Full downloads of the show are always available straight from the band at UMlive.net.
I know I will be listening to this one for some time now to help get through this winter and back into full fledged Festy Season! My festy gland has been tingling out of control for some time and I can’t wait for this snow to melt here in the mid-west so we can get ourselves back to Chillicothe.
Until next time,
Denver was a busy city on New Year’s Eve. The String Cheese Incident was playing their 20th anniversary show just outside the city while Pretty Lights was headlining EDM extravaganza, Decadence in the heart of downtown. Umphrey’s McGee, on the other hand, was wrapping up a four night New Year’s run at Fillmore Auditorium. I hadn’t caught an Umphrey’s NYE show in over two years and there was truly no place I’d rather be.
I arrived at the venue just before the show started. My road beverage turned to liquid gold as I waited in a line that wrapped around the Fillmore and into a quaint Denver neighborhood. Luckily it wasn’t too cold outside, or maybe it was the alcohol, but everyone was feeling pretty good, until we heard the crowd roar from within the venue.
Frustration and panic washed over my face. With each note that followed, the pain burrowed deeper into the pit of my stomach. I realized that this was probably my version of hell; being stuck in a line outside a venue only to hear the empty echoes of my favorite songs being played inside while energetic lights escape from a securely guarded door.
The line moved slower than expected and I ended up missing the first forty minutes of the show, which included “Le Blitz > Phil’s Farm > Ocean Billy”. Therefore, the first official song on my New Year’s Eve setlist was a sassy “Mail Package” that Jake Cinninger soulfully delivered. It was followed by a thrashing “Wizard Burial Ground” that Brendan Bayliss comically dedicated “to all the lovers out there.”
Umphrey’s ended the first set of NYE with a debut of a never before played original, “Bad Friday”. This song was probably the highlight of the show. With the help of Mad Dog’s Filthy Secret on horns, Jake’s familiar soul riff finally took flight. A catchy backbeat turned this new Umph tune into straight-up pop music. From the first notes, a disco dance party formed under glimmering crystal chandeliers, which seemed to float above the crowd.
I love being present when an original song is played for the first time because it puts everyone on the same level. From the most avid fan to the kid experiencing their first show, no one knows what will happen next. It made me recollect the first time Umphrey’s played “Puppet Strings” at Summer Camp and my visceral reaction to hear it over and over again. I predict “Bad Friday” will be Umphrey’s bust out song of the 2014; much like “Puppet Strings” was in 2011.
Second set was much stranger than the first. A horn section, appropriately labled Mad Dog’s Filthy Secret, added a deeper level of weird to Umphrey’s musical landscapes. The sounds engulfed me since I was wearing a pair of headphones that streamed live soundboard audio. My previous experiences with Headphones and Snowcones convinced me that this was the best way completely submerge myself in the live music experience. So why not rock them at Umphrey’s biggest show of the year? The headphones demanded my focus be on the music throughout the first set so I chose to venture through the crowd alone during the second to get a better view of the stage.
I felt like an island surrounded by people, something that further enhanced my response to Umphrey’s debut cover of “Twilight Zone”, which also included teases of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. I zoned into the way Jake commanded his guitar while Brendan attempted to catch the rhythm. It all felt like it wasn’t adding up so I started making friends with the strangers around me and eventually found myself covered in Umphlove stickers.
Songs like “40′s Theme” and “Booth Love” were done justice by the addition of horns, while ”No Diablo” finally got a chance to dig deeper into its Motown roots. Umphrey’s ended the set on a high note with the most unforgettable cover of the night, Phil Collins’ “Sussudio”. Once again, the strangeness crept in as I recalled American Psycho’s analysis of Phil’s work. At this point I began to realize that maybe this weird feeling was strictly subjective.
Third set began just before midnight with an insane version of “Hurt Bird Bath”. In keeping with tradition, Umphrey’s had never played this song into the New Year. Jeff Coffin, along with the rest of Mad Dog’s Secrets, amped up the energy of “Hurt Bird Bath” like I had never seen it before. The insane build up of the song made me appreciate the true meaning of “rage” in how it relates to the actions of a raving maniac.
By now I had found most of my friends standing right in front of the sound board in the center of the ballroom. This spot provided the best view I experienced all night. Light designer Jefferson Waful was perched on a tall platform just behind us and his devotion to symmetry made the room’s visual landscape just as stimulating as the audio coming from the headphones.
But when the countdown started, I removed my headphones. This was not a time when I wished to block out the rest of the room. Umphrey’s provided all the elements necessary to engrave this moment in my head for the rest of my life. Balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling. My focus switched from the stage to the people around me. Smiling from ear to ear, I hugged my friends and wished them the best in 2014.
Whimsical swirls of energy surrounded us as the band ventured into the New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne”. After spending a handful of past New Year’s Eves with Umphrey’s, I knew this was coming. I even looked up a few verses of the song before the show in preparation, so when I heard those first few notes I belted out the lyrics as loud as I could, greeting 2014 with a song.
It was all so intoxicating; the music, energy of the room, glow of the lights, and smell of weed becoming legal. At midnight Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana, something I never thought I’d experience in my lifetime. It made me feel like I was part of something BIG just by being there. New Year’s always offers a fresh start with limitless possibilities, and this was no exception.
The rest of the third set was pure perfection. “Hit It and Quit It”, a debut Funkadelic cover, provided just enough raunchiness to everyone’s juices flowing. I turned my headphones over to some friends so I could share the experience. The look on their faces was of pure ecstasy.
The night ended with an appropriate “Resolution” encore that jammed out the New Year’s classic, “Auld Lang Syne” and eventually segued into Kool & the Gang’s “Funky Stuff”. Umphrey’s was once again joined by Mad Dog’s Filthy Secrets to conclude the long night of music on a high note.
While strange, the night felt perfect in every way.
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!
It’s been quite a while since Umphrey’s McGee and STS9 co-headlined a tour together. These bands have changed a lot over the last 6 years in both music production and with their party boy lifestyles. This evolutionary progress has created two mega beasts in the world of jambands and time has come for these titans to clash once more.
Tribe and Umphrey’s will be kicking off an epic summer tour in Louisville, KY. Then they head north for a handful of shows in the Midwest before venturing back to the Dirty South. Depending on the city, each band will switch off who opens or closes each night of tour. Collaborations between the two groups are highly anticipated and according to keyboardist Joel Cumming’s, there is guaranteed to be some impressive sit-ins along the way.
Besides Umph, this is the first time any other band will try Headphones and Snowcones during a live show. It is one of the most uniquely tailored concert experiences for any sound nerd out there and it will be available at all 14 shows for an extra 50 bucks a pop.
|Thu 08/15||Palace Theater||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Lousiville, KY|
|Fri 08/16||Lawn at White River||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Indianapolis, IN|
|Sat 08/17||FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Chicago, IL|
|Sun 08/18||Meadow Brook Music Festival||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Rochester Hills, MI|
|Wed 08/21||Crossroads KC||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Kansas City, MO|
|Thu 08/22||Chesterfield Amphitheater||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Chesterfield, MO|
|Fri 08/23||Riverfront Park||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Nashville, TN|
|Sat 08/24||Verizon Wireless Amphitheater||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Alpharetta, GA|
|Sun 08/25||Red Hat Amphitheatre||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Raleigh, NC|
|Wed 08/28||Time Warner Uptown Amphitheatre||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Charlotte, NC|
|Thu 08/29||Maymont||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Richmond, VA|
|Fri 08/30||The Mann Music Center||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Philadelphia, PA|
|Sat 08/31||Bank of America Pavilion||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Boston, MA|
|Sun 09/01||Filene Center at Wolf Trap||STS9 & Umphrey’s McGee in Vienna, VA|
Sunday was EASILY the best day of music for me. Also, it was easily the worst day of weather. No way I was gonna let that affect my mood, though, and for many Scampers, it was the same.
I was able to catch Umphrey’s day time show, and they just continue to get better every time I see them, as now this was the 15th show for me. Highlights include a beautiful version of Dear Lord, one of my all time favorites and a rarity, with a sit-in from Luther Dickinson. They closed the set with a rockin’ Miss Tinkle’s Overture. Check out my video of it (right here): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0M7GMT3F74&feature=youtu.be
Hands down, the show by The Everyone Orchestra was one of the best shows I have ever seen. Wow. I was just blown away. On stage was Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee on keys, Vinnie Amico, Jim Loughlin, and Al Schnier of moe. on drums, percussion, and guitar, respectively, Victor Wooten on bass, Allie Kral of Cornmeal on violin, Roosevelt Collier on steel guitar, and Alex Steele of Roste McCabe on vocals. There was also another girl on trombone who was just stunningly good, but I am not sure who her name was unfortunately. Of course, it was orchestrated by Matt Butler. For those unfamiliar with The Everyone Orchestra, it is all improv and the jams are literally conducted by Butler as he is leading the artists with the tempos and grooves. Their final jam had some “Love Love Love” lyrics bouncing around that got the crowd going crazy inside the intimate Red Barn.
Finally, there was Trey. Words can’t even begin to describe the musical journey he takes me on every time I see him perform. He came out on stage, did a nice little awkward and goofy half-bow to the crowd, picked up Ocelot (the name of his guitar) and got right into First Tube, a classic song that gets me rocking every time. He didn’t let up from there in his first set got better and better with each song. Unfortunately it was raining for most of the first set, so I didn’t get many pictures or videos, but it let up enough for me to catch the end of “Money, Love, & Change.” Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysUBGexwkKU&feature=youtu.be
His second set was cut short due to the nasty flash flood, which to be honest, came as a sort of relief to me. I found myself at such a predicament because a gust of wind, or Trey’s peak in one of his jams, snapped my umbrella in half. Once that happened I just got SOAKED. I mean soaked. And muddy. But I mean, it’s Trey! During the jam of Push on til The Day, the final song he ended up playing, a small child arose on the shoulders of someone in the front row, and he just danced danced and danced away for all to notice. The crowd cheered him on as he had all the spins and moves, mostly with his arms, and even Trey went up and gave him a high five after the song ended. It reminded me of when Alpine Valley last summer, in which Trey pulled up a bunch of phans on stage during their encore song of Meatstick, showing despite the level of stardom he has reached, he still has the heart and joy of music to share it with others and acknowledge great moments when it happens. By the way, I was one of those guys doing the Meatstick dance on stage. Here’s the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nIFwpRxFLA
Well, Summer Camp, it was GREAT. Although the rainstorm cut the night a little young, I had a hell of a time and am already counting down the days til next year.
Friday was way to much fun. Woke up with an early morning bite to eat. The birds were chirping, the sky was blue, and all I could think about was Moe playing at 2! So after we had made our way back to the campsite and i had a quick change of clothes we decided to go do a little wondering around and find some people to hang out with.
2:00 rolled around pretty quickly, so we headed over to Moe. Thousands and thousands of people came in all different directions came flooding in before the first guitar riffs were firing up. Kyle came out on stage to announce the first Moe set of scamp and then the place got wild.
After Moe, we went back to the campsite to make a few adjustments before heading off to the wailers. Good jams even better times. So much funky reggae everywhere it was quite a site
Unfortunately, I had to pass on yonder this year because I lost track of time inside all of the fun we were having and just totally forgot all about it. We ended up walking around till about 8 when we started to head over for EOTO. A few people who have never heard of them before asked me what the show was going to be like. I couldn’t answer them because each EOTO concert is different than the last. Everything is just open jam an I just couldnt tell them what to expect except awesomeness.
Umphrey’s, Minnesota, to tribe oh my. Always moving forward never slowing down. Music, music everywhere. Always pushing forward and have the time of my life.
Big G was one of the best sets of the night. It was super loud and hype but was comfortable chill. Makes sense huh?
After everything was done we jumped around a lot going from tent to tent, through tons of trails running into people and objects all night. I would have to say that Friday was a total success and cant wait to see how my Saturday goes.
Until next time guys and girls, stay scampy!!
Preparing for another ritualistic venture to Three Sisters Park; I can’t keep myself from reminiscing about last year. The whole experience was crazy, everything about it – from deciding to enter and making the video to announcing moe.’s first set. Entering the Camp Counselor 2012 Contest wasn’t even my idea to begin with – my friend randomly suggested it and I thought to myself “why not?” In all honesty I NEVER expected to win when I sent in my original video. It didn’t help that I emailed it merely two hours before the deadline would turn any chances of it happening to zero.
Summer Camp had always been special to me for many reasons – Summer Camp was not only the first festival I ever went to, but it was also the one weekend of the year which I could spend with my old best friends from college. When I, rather incredulously, realized I made the first round of candidates the significance and meaning of the prize began to actualize. I realized that winning wasn’t just going to be sweet because of the prizes, but because I was going to have the opportunity to experience unique moments that are literally, and as David Byrne’s would say, “once in a lifetime.”
The competition was pretty fierce. I was up against some great people; they all were smart, interesting and suited for the role. Luckily I had some good friends on my team and we fought harder and harder on each round. By the time it came down to the final three I even had my family in South America voting and telling their friends to vote as well. When the announcement was made and I read on the Facebook post that I won, I had to re-read it several times. It was exciting – I was going to get to meet and announce moe., interview some great people, and sit side stage for some great shows; the anticipation began to grow.
Within a few weeks I was finally on the trip to Peoria to be the 2012 Summer Camp Counselor. As soon as we put that rockstar parking pass on the rearview mirror and parked right next to the VIP entrance, I knew that weekend was going to be epic. Out of the many years of attendance, last year was the first time I had someone drive up to the car in a golf cart and take us (and our bags) up to our campsite. For the first time out of the many years of attendance I walked up to the backstage entrance behind the moonshine stage and demonstrated my “I can go back here pass.” I was nervous and terrified because I was going to announce moe.’s first set in about half an hour. Then I see Rob sitting in a golf cart, chillin behind his black sunglasses and he can see I’m nervous and I tell him why. “Oh you’ll be fine, it’s easy.” I smiled and said “Yeah, coming from someone who has just a bit more experience…”
The entire weekend was a blur of hectic sweetness. I couldn’t believe that suddenly it was Sunday. In those four days I had gotten to watch moe., Gigantic Underground Conspiracy and Umphrey’s sidestage. I got to partake in Wavy Dave’s birthday festivities and watch his cake melt in the 100 degree weather. I sat and spoke to Vinnie who gave me some drums instruction. I had the opportunity to interview the members of Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, G. Love, Wavy Dave and Kinetix. Umphrey’s signed their names to a poster which now hangs on my wall. The best moments however, were those unscheduled interactions with the people that make the festival what it is –getting insights and wisdom from Vinnie and Rob, singing Happy Birthday to Wavy Dave, talking to Ian, Rex, Holly, Danny, Graham, Nick, the Counselors in Training and the regular festival attendees who posed for pictures and gave me their personal take on the event.
Being Camp Counselor also experienced the festival in completely new way; in my effort to capture the energy of the festival, I met more people, took more pictures, and saw more varied bands than any other year. Looking back on it all I wish I had done even more. There is no real way you can prepare for the experience however, and it all happens so fast there isn’t much time to stop and plan. I wish I could relive the entire experience with the experience of it under my belt, but I can’t. All I can do is sit and reminisce about the wonderful 2012 Summer Camp weekend and smile knowing that it all actually happened.
It could happen to you too…YOU could be one of the few people on this Earth who get to live Summer Camp in this exceptional way…but you will never know unless you try.
Congrats to Kyle Hess, Camp Counselor 2013!!
For the rest of you: Start thinking of your 2014 Camp Counselor Video!!
See you soon!!