Umphrey’s McGee, Summercamp 2004, Three Sisters Park, Chillicothe, IL- 5/30
Sunday morning of Summercamp 2004 began with a
constant string of torrential downpours. Everyone
stayed in their tents longer than usual hoping it
would pass over, but it seemed like another violent
thunderstorm would come through every 20 minutes. A
pinhole leak near the entrance of our tent soon gave
way to a deep pool of accumulation along the the edge
of the tent. A cop car or a festival golf cart soon
travelled through the park with a loud speaker to
announce 'Take your time. It is going to rain,' which
was a little baffling to everyone. It had already been
raining for hours and what were we supposed to take
our time doing?
The rain subsided for a while and friends and I started
discussing whether or not they would even continue the
festival if the thunderstorms continued. The sun was actually getting bothersome in our shadeless camping circle in the middle of a field. A few clouds passed over to give us some relief and not five minutes later an announcement was made that everyone needed to meet at the Sunshine Stage for some important information. That information turned out to be that the entire park needed to be evacuated because a huge storm with possible tornadoes was headed our way quickly.
They told us that the music would be rescheduled for
Monday, so we decided to pack up and drive to a hotel
in Peoria for the night and wait for the Memorial Day
shows. At about 9:30 p.m., we were all lying around
the rooms when a friend got a phone call telling him
of a rumor that Umphrey's late night show in the barn
may still be going on tonight, but at 10:30 instead of
the scheduled start time of 12:30.
We made some calls to confirm this rumor, and then
piled into our cars and headed back toward
Chillicothe, excited that we just happened to get the
word. There would have been some pissed off people in
our crew if we would have arrived on Monday to learn
that Umphrey's had went on with their show with no further announcement from festival officials. The fact that the show was one of their best in
recent memory would have made missing it even harder
The first set was highlighted by my favorite Umphrey's
tune "2×2," the song that drew me to the band in the
first place. This 10-minute journey wound up with a stirring guitar solo from the underrated Brendan Bayliss. One of their most proper late night tunes is the trance-flavored "Triple Wide," an instrumental that really did not have its coming out party until last year at the late night Summercamp show. At last year's show, "Triple Wide" was transformed from a predictable and sometimes stale song into an always electric jam. There was also a surprisingly good sit-in from bass player Nick Blasky from Ray's Music Exchange, who took over Ryan Stasik's bass as the opening notes of "It's About That
Time" started. When this Miles Davis began, the
audience knew it would probably lead to the first
guest musician (last year they played it with Oteil Burbridge, Al Schnier, Chuck Garvey
and Jim Loughlin). They finished up the first set with
a heavy metal rendition of the usually chill, guitar
driven "Uncle Wally." I'll still take the original, but I was glad to hear a new twist on the song.
A few of the show's best moments came early in the
second set with sit-ins from moe.'s Rob Derhak on
"JaJunk" followed by Al Schnier on "Padgett's
Profile." Derhak added some masterful bass slapping
and plucking to a 10-minute jam sandwiched between the
familiar notes of "JaJunk," which has become one of
Umphrey's most consistently solid jams as of late.
After the frantic beginnings of "Padgett's Profile,"
Schnier took over on Bayliss' guitar as he and Jake Cinninger matched each other's licks while the jam progressed. Also in the second set was a jazzy lounge version of the usually hard core metal "Nopener" with drummer Kris Myers grabbing the mic and doing his best impression of Frank Sinatra. The three part "Pay the
Snucka" rounded out the set a little funk and the
heavy metal inspired part III. Umphrey's encored with
Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Lenny," a slow instrumental that
wouldn't have been my first choice, but still a nice
to wind the evening down.
We all left on a high note, stepping out into the improved weather, relieved that we were not totally left out in the cold about the show.