Umphrey’s McGee Hosts UMBowl II at the Park West
On Saturday night, Umphrey’s McGee hosted UMBowl II at Park West in its hometown of Chicago. The event—an interactive musical experience incorporating various forms of audience participation—was separated into four distinct “quarters,” each with its own unique theme.
In the first, the band borrowed the idea from the series of children’s gamebooks known as “Choose Your Own Adventure.” This allowed fans to send text messages containing musical ideas that were displayed and tallied on a screen for the band and audience to see. The concepts that received the most votes came to life in the form of “In the Kitchen” in Espanol and a cover of Chromeo’s “Bonafide Lovin’” that led into a Daft Punk-esque “Jimmy Stewart.” The quarter came to a close with the band finishing off the version of “All in Time” from last year’s inaugural UMBowl.
In the second quarter, the band turned the format over to one of its signature Stew Art events. This entirely improvised set was conducted by fan-submitted descriptions such as “Heavy Metal Dance Party,” “Soaring Uplifting jam,” “Tool Meets Umphrey’s,” “I’m in a Video Game” and more. Entries were submitted via text message with the best one’s added to the band’s “playbook” and displayed for all to see.
The third quarter introduced the “Special Teams” concept, consisting of revolving line-ups and pairings. Toward the end of the set, Jake Cinninger and Kris Myers exited the stage while founding drummer Mike Miro joined the band for a rendition of “Much Obliged” (this lineup of the band toured from 1998-2000 before Cinninger signed on). Cinninger and Myers then joined the early lineup, closing out the set with “In Violation of Yes.”
Just before midnight, the band emerged for the fourth quarter, dubbed the “All Request Quarter.” Prior to the event, ticket buyers received ballots containing a list of songs and covers they would most like to hear performed by the band. The selections that made it into the set included a bluegrass style “Nothing Too Fancy,” the disco hit “Fifth of Bethoven” and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” In overtime, the band capped off the night with a mashup of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”
Head over to our Box Scores section to check out the full setlist from UMBowl II.