Umphreys McGee, Vic Theater, Chicago, IL- 4/21
It was a weekend for more intimate shows with Chicago’s own Umphrey’s McGee as they returned to The Vic Theater, a venue they have not played since New Year’s Eve 2003, as well as a free show at the Lincoln Park Zoo during the Green Apple Music Festival.
The Vic had the recipe for an epic show. Only one night at a venue the band had long since outgrown in their hometown on a festival weekend. Some nights it’s about song selection, and other nights more so about improvisation. Some nights are all about energy, be it from either source. The second set of the show, solely on paper, was what almost every Umphrey’s dreams of and the energy in the room told the story.
The show as a whole was a focused effort on controlling segues and crowd energy. The first set left four songs “Jajunk,” “Divisions,” “Nothing Too Fancy” and “Padgetts Profile” all unfinished. However, segues like the one going into “Divisions” were so perfectly executed that the crowd’s energy was sky high early on. A jam during “Divisions” would be the best from a night where most of the energy came from song choice. When the ambient intro to “Nothing Too Fancy” kicked in the overall feeling was that the evening was going to be a fun one. The intro was stretched for almost three minutes until finally guitarist Jake Cinninger slid everyone all the way into the first section. The set wound down with the newly reworked version of “Padgett’s Profile,” as the song has been revamped from metal to more of an industrial feel.
The second set was full bore the entire sixty five minutes, finishing up a few songs from the first set and weaving in a few other heavy hitters from Umphrey’s rotation. Random samples litter the first part of “Pay The Snucka,” as well as “Der Bluten Kat” for an funny second listen. “DBK” bookends “Hajimemashite” and Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood.” “Haji” picked up as bassist Ryan Stasik speeds behind the harmonizing of Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss.
Aron Magner of The Disco Biscuits and Michael Kang came out to join in on “The Triple Wide,” replacing keyboardist Joel Cummins and Cinninger respectively. Kang and Bayliss went back and forth for a bit mirroring each other, but the jam really kicked in when Magner took the reins with some haunting playing on Cummins keyboards. The rest of set finished up some leftovers from the first set as The Disco Biscuits’ Allen Aucoin joined for the reprise of “Nothing Too Fancy” and “Divisions>Pay The Snucka” close out the show. For an encore the Wings classic “Band On The Run” was a treat, and “Jajunk” finally reared its head again after nearly two and a half hours since it’s opening notes.
Overall the feel of the night doesn’t come across well on disc, the entire evening was fueled by the crowd’s energy and the feeling of being lucky enough to be in the room, and there is always room for shows like that.