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Published: 2012/03/01

Umphrey’s McGee’s Joel Cummins Responds to "Piss Setlists" Comment in Relix

In the current Relix cover story, Umphrey’s McGee’s Brendan Bayliss accuses bandmate Joel Cummins of composing setlists that draw too heavily on obscure material, leading fans to head off to the bathroom. Cummins has responded to this via a post on the group’s blog:

As many of you have read in the March issue of Relix, I’ve been accused by Brendan of writing “piss” setlists, that is, songs filled with “piss break” material. I want to take this opportunity to defend myself and present a couple of more recent Cummins setlists that were winners. Sure, there are lesser played songs that I like us to play, and I tend to place our heavy-hitters in less obvious set list positions, but isn’t that more fun for everyone when you don’t know what’s coming? As far as my many segues, there’s no spite, as I stand accused of, these are segues filled with love and adventure! Of course, it all comes down to the band’s playing and execution, so in the end, the set list is just a template. Let’s take a look at three modern Cummins classics: (click on venue name to listen & decide for yourself)

2/6/10 The Tabernacle, Atlanta, GA

Picked the JaJunk opener to keep that legendary Tabernacle energy up right from the gates. This segued into a rather surprising #2 choice, Sociable Jimmy, also in the key of B like JaJunk. Much Obliged > 1348 makes for a nice segue, and closing out the set with the now-somewhat-rare Wife Soup with improv back into JaJunk happened quite smoothly. Turn & Dub provided a convenient platform for improv to open the 2nd set. Up next is a favorite set list move for me, the song sandwich (Brendan tends to prefer entire set sandwiches, which I also sometimes use). This time was a rather unique double song sandwich with Bridgeless bookending Hangover & Wappy Sprayberry. That little sequence is quite a variety of UM material that spans a lot of our sound, and the place went off throughout the whole sandwich that night. Example 1, another rarely played gem pops up in a surprising spot and the set ends with more uptempo improv in Cemetery Walk II. As far as encores go, there isn’t much that can beat Eminence Front > The Floor. A powerful way to end a show, right?

7/1/11 Simon Estes Amphitheatre, Des Moines, IA

To many of you, this was the show of the year. I love playing our tune Water, I feel like I’m the only one who ever wants to play that one! Definitely not a piss song in my book. The setlist changed a bit as it went along, largely thanks to the early fireworks that started during Tribute that inspired some lengthy improv. Then we inserted Walkin on the Moon and played what was undoubtedly our best version ever, extending it with improv to continue with the fireworks. Unfortunately, we had to cut a favorite of mine, DBK, at the end of set. But the reason we had to cut it was great — the improv was better and longer than we planned in set 1. Set 2 jumps right in with another rockin’ All In Time followed by a great stewart > 2nd Self. The Bottom Half contains more interesting improv, and we decided to toss in I Ran after Linear — discovering at set break that the tempos were close enough to do that and going with the feeling of the crowd wanting to make it a party. The show closes with the rarely played but incredibly funky The Fuzz segueing back into All in Time. Instead of closing with Ocean Billy as was planned, we play Toto’s Africa due to time restraints and capped off a very adventurous night with a sing along dance party.

9/24/11 The Norva, Norfolk, VA

Our new tune Hourglass that Brendan & I wrote together is another one that doesn’t really sound like any other UM tunes. I felt like I found the perfect place for it coming out of Cummins Lies (same key of C#) to open the show. Another FF appearance (love the crowd vibe during it and the space it sets up for improv) leads into Rocker II. Then the rarely heard Alex’s House pops up. I wanted to surprise people by getting away from the form into one of my favorite lyrical stewarts here (2/25/10 originally), eventually into the great Police tune WTWIRD, and a raucous set ender of Andy’s Last Beer. Yes, it’s an archery range, but who doesn’t like having a set that flows right from one song to the next? For set 2, we had more unique segues with an All In Time dance party winding it’s way into Go To Hell. Another rarely played but rockin’ little ditty called Snake Juice pops up in the middle of Go To Hell, another surprise left turn, before finishing the Hell sandwich. The set continues to get crazier with Intentions Clear leading into a Love Supreme jam, then the uptempo Wappy Sprayberry with more improv, eventually getting to Ringo. Kris loves singing Bulls On Parade, so went into that per his request mid show. And of course, who can complain about Young Lust leading back into All In Time to close it out? EpiCumminSetlist confirmed. Bathroom lines were crazy out of control during both set break and after the show, Mr. Bayliss.

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