SCampers are used to rainy shows but boy, were we in for a wet and wild ride last weekend in Atlanta! My weekend started at 4:20am on Friday in Chicago, armed with two carry on bags and a passport to fly. While I previously attended Umphreys’s McGee at the Drive-Inn in Chicago, I was really stoked to see how similar or different Umphreys at the Speedway would compare. As I sat in the airport waiting for my friends flights to arrive, I decided to find out more about the “um” race car I had seen on their socials. Turns out, the creation of the um + GTSport Racing Porsche Cayman actually dates back to 2015 and is a real race car, totally decked out with Umphrey’s decals and logos.
We pulled up to the Speedway in our Dodge Grand Caravan rental that we picked up at the airport. We were spot 27 in the 2nd row and had a perfect view of the stage. The whole process of driving in, having our car checked and getting to our spot was very well organized. The weather was warm and humid to start, but as the sun went down the cool breeze was perfect for a night of live music.
There were fans from every part of the United States in cars and trucks of every make, model and size. QR codes for Umphrey’s McGee merch were placed at the end of each row. There were new zip-up hoodies, license plate covers, long sleeve shirts, posters, pins, glow in the dark facemasks, and more available for purchase. I ordered a zip-up hoodie and was sent a text message within 20 minutes that my order was ready to be picked up at the merch booth located just to the right of the stage.
Night 1 was a blast! Highlights from Friday included “Whistle Kids”, “Miss Tinkles Overture”, a super fun version of “Ringo”, an incredible jam of “Cemetary Walk” and a killer encore with “The Silent Type”. Ben Factor, the new lighting director, made sure that the LCD panels and stage lights glowed perfectly for every song all night long, especially during the band’s tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen. The visuals featured the red, black, and white stripes from Van Halen’s iconic guitar, “The Frankenstrat” while the band played “Ain’t Talking Bout Love”. It started raining during the second set, but the band kept playing. Crew members covered pedal panels with tarps as towels were used to dry Jake’s and Brendan’s guitars, but it didn’t stop the band or fans from raging.
And then there was night 2. We all knew the rain was coming when we arrived and saw the dark clouds pulling in, but things escalated rather quickly. The emergency warning on our phones read “Tornado Warning” and I watched every person with cell service pull their phone out to read the same notice. We tuned in to a radio channel for continued updates.
So there we were, a group of 5 hanging out in the back of a van with a cheese and cracker “charcuterie” plate and cooler full of libations, waiting to see what would happen. It started violently pouring and the wind literally ripped our inflatable unicorn out from under our car. Once the storm had passed and it was safe to get out of our cars, crew members swept water by the bucket load off the stage. At 8:30pm, the band was able to take the stage but the rain was far from over.
It was wet and muddy all night long, but boy, did we have fun dancing in the rain! The lighting team had Greg Ellis aka TheLaserShark on board to bring more magic to the stage as well. One of my favorite moments was “Triple Wide” which just felt so special after all the bad weather and devastating rain. “Cemetary Walk II” was hardcore with a jazzy, house vibe. The encore though, “All In Time”, definitely hit a little differently. I stood in the rain with friends from elementary school, high school, and new friends I had just met, all there to celebrate one of the best bands and teams we know: Umphreys McGee. While Xetni the Unicorn didn’t survive the weekend, the memories from this incredible adventure in Atlanta will last forever.
This was a magical weekend. I love traveling for live music and getting to do it with friends it that much better! Umphrey’s McGee has been making music and performing longer than I’ve been doing just about anything. To know these guys are making it work during a year like 2020 is inspiring and certainly earns them the title “Reigning Champs”. I’m glad I was there to support this incredible band and rock on! I’m certainly looking forward to returning to Three Sisters Park for Summer Camp 2021 for more rock, rain, kickball and Umphreys! See you there SCamp Fam!
XOXO, Camp Counselor Niki