Umphreys McGee, The Intersection, Grand Rapids, MI- 9/7
On September 7th for the second year in row Umphrey’s McGee performed a sold-out Michigan show. In 2005, it was Detroit’s Majestic Theater, while this time out it was The Intersection in Grand Rapids.
A standard “Walletsworth” opened the show and crowd was quickly drawn into the show with the short tune. “Intentions Clear” came next but slowly floated into the ambient introduction to “Nothing Too Fancy.” The intro was stretched to a feverish pace as drummer Kris Myers used some e-drums and the crowd waited in anticipation. When the first notes of “N2F” finally squeaked out, the dance floor literally exploded. Guitarist Jake Cinninger started alternating between short solo notes then used chords almost as solo notes, shimmying them up and down the fret board. Percussion player Andy Farag shined as he propelled the crowd’s energy as he slammed on the bongos. Guitarist Brendan Bayliss took his solo as the beat thumped behind him and the crowd rallied around his fiery solo before a short break back into the original riff. Cinninger’s solo alternated finger tapping and slide, as he tapped the notes sliding from note to note. Cinninger again tossed chords like solo notes with dizzying speed. A “Jimmy Stewart” out of “N2F” had Bayliss starting a riff and gradually everyone adding in to build two short little jams. When the keys took over, keyboardist Joel Cummins gently slid into “Orfeo” with a beautiful segue. The classical feeling song has a very warming holiday feel to it as Cummins’ fingers imitated snowflakes falling on a cold Midwest winter day. Slowly rest of the band filled in on “Orfeo” for a full orchestral sound of the soothing tune. A run of the mill “Plunger” and “Bad Poker” slow the set down, despite the Louisiana Purchase being a hell of a deal, however “Bad Poker” earned some points towards the end of the song. Chick Corea’s “Senor Mouse” came next, and the choppy jazz tune closed out the set.
The jam in the second set opener “Jajunk” featured two distinct sections just like “Jajunk” does. The first section starts off Cinninger’s riff but Bayliss’s solo notes highlighted the first section of the jam, with an almost underwater feel to them as they waved out from his guitar. He swapped effects but after toying with a few, used the ripple and accented the jam perfectly. It nearly had a “Legend of Zelda” feel to it, but better, for those who are well versed in original Nintendo. Cummins brought in the organ to peak jam then slowly wind down as Bayliss and Cinninger traded off whine pull downs on their strings. Next they eventually exchanged on a heavy rock riff taking sides of it and harmonizing, taking out the whine. Bassist Ryan Stasik really stood out despite Cinninger and Bayliss shredding, as he kept the bass line busy and the energy from the “Stewart” flowed flawlessly back to the last section of “Jajunk” without missing a beat. “The Pequod” came next and hinted at little slowdown but a funk jam on “Amazing Grace” interwoven through “The Pequod” was a nice change of pace and proved for some great crowd energy. Then the band started “Taking It To The Church” and The Intersection transformed into a Southern Baptist church for a few minutes complete with flailing gospel hands. After “White Man’s Moccasins,” a cover of the Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock” followed and Bayliss belted out his best Billy Corgan. Stasik started the bassline to “Fussy Dutchman” which was fairly standard, but Bayliss really took his time with his solo. Cinninger jumped onto keys with Cummins towards the end of “Push The Pig” for a dueling key jam. It is always interesting to hear Cinninger play another instrument, as Cinninger’s distinct guitar style was transposed onto the keys. The transition from “PTP>N2F” to finish out the second set resurrected the end of the “N2F” and rode all the built up tension before finally the last riff slammed to end the second set. Cummins left the loops on and the band went for a drink.
For a brief encore, “Higgins” ended the night, and for the second straight year September 7th left Michigan fans with a show that should hold most of them until Chicago’s New Year’s Eve run.