Umphrey’s McGee, McNear’s Mystic Theatre, Petaluma, CA – 10/28
The Mystic Theater in Petaluma, also known as McNear’s Mystic Theater is located in Historic Downtown Petaluma, California and is described by many as the North Bay’s Premier Music Venue. Built in 1911, The Mystic Theater originally played host to live Vaudeville entertainment and in 1992 was renovated to accommodate live music performances for up to 550 guests. There is a full bar and restaurant access, making McNear’s Mystic Theater a great venue with a quaint and intimate vibe. All of the shows there feel as if you’re seeing your favorite local band at your hometown pub.
The show was opened by Iration, a reggae-rock group from Santa Barbara, originally from Hawaii. Iration has recently recorded four new songs two of which were co-written by Grammy Award Winner Charles Brotman. They continue to tour extensively and look forward to bringing their sound to an even larger audience. Currently Iration is working on their second full-length album. Since the release of Sample This, Iration has headlined sold-out shows at venues: The Roxy Theater Hollywood, Downtown Brew Co SLO, Kona Bowl Hawaii, Hard Rock Cafe Lahaina, Univ. of Hawaii Hilo, Velvet Jones Santa Barbara. Their set was brief but energizing, the crowd enjoyed their jamband approach to reggae, with extended improv and the melding of songs into each other.
Umphrey’s came on at about 9:35 PM, and while one might be curious how their lighting set-up was going to work in such a small venue, this was answered immediately as it worked perfectly. Their sound engineer and producer, Kevin Browning explained that the 550 occupancy of The Mystic Theater is smaller than most venues that they play, but they can work with just about anything and this was proven by the way sound reverberated around the old two story building, all the way up to the small balcony in the back. From up there, fans could get some of the best views, especially of the entire production, the band, the dancing fans below and the lights.
They opened their first set with “Walletsworth” from their 2004 album, Anchor Drops. It was a rocking anthem, and it gave the keyboardist Joel Cummings a chance to show off his skills. It was a nice start and had a clean finish. Then the show really took off with “Prowler,” where Jake Cinninger showcased his creative pedal effects. This was upbeat and really got things moving as the crowd responded to the back and forth between Brendan and Jake, who alternated between rhythm and lead guitar. Then after “Turn and Run” from their latest album Mantis, out of nowhere and to the much applause, Cummings just went off on the piano, really letting loose. The crowd’s favorite song of the set was “The Floor,” built up to a series of climaxes before eventually going all out.
They ended up taking about a 30 minute set break, where I had the opportunity to speak to some fans, one fan, Walker, from Oklahoma by way of San Diego was attending his 127th Umphrey’s show. He explained that he “loved the smaller shows for their intimate setting” and rated the first set a “7 out 10” with 10 being the best show ever.
Walker and other fans likely weren’t disappointed by the second set, which started out with a wicked “Ringo” that allowed drummer Kris Myers to show off his proficiency. Following “Believe The Lie,” came “Good Ol’ Boys” which showcased not only Ryan Stasik’s bass skills but also his enthusiasm. He demonstrated the latter throughout the night and the crowd responded whenever he would jump up and down or moved across the stage to Cinninger or Bayliss. After “Good Ol Boys”, they played a quite credible “Breathe” which led into “Spires” before a set-closing “Sociable Jimmy.” The Encore was “Miss Tinkles Overture” and it was a powerful way to end the night, rivaling “The Floor” as the evening’s audience favorite.
Playing for a sold out crowd at the intimate Mystic Theater, Umphrey’s continues to master their progressive jam style of rock in a way no other band does. They truly share the stage and direct their energy outward. At one point Brendan whispered to the audience, “I love you”, “I love you.” Everyone gets a turn.