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Reviews > Shows

Published: 2012/09/24
by Kevin Long

Umphrey’s McGee, Minglewood Hall, Memphis, TN – 9/20

Photo by Ellis Jones IV

Umphrey’s McGee continued their seemingly endless tour in Memphis firing on all cylinders; as they have been devouring every venue they have played this fall. This night would be no exception. The fireworks commenced at the friendly confines of the intimate Minglewood Hall, which has become their domicile over the past couple of years in the blues city. The atmosphere was galvanized before the show, as the double-bill with Conspirator was icing on a Thursday night escape.

The celebrated opening act wasted little time initiating the musical marathon at eight sharp and dove into their dance-friendly instrumental fusion. Over the course of the next forty-five minutes, they achieved their goal of warming up the crowd with one hypnotic composition after another. The Disco Biscuits’ side project had no trouble arriving into interesting territory, but had difficulty delivering the knockout punch. More often than not, the music would become stagnant and dissipate. The talent was undeniable and with more escapades, they will surely become a welcome addition on the scene.

Umphrey’s McGee seized the stage and properly opened with the treasured, “Partyin’ Peeps.” From the first note, they displayed a swagger with the ability to improvise that few acts reveal and can only be accomplished from spending ample time on the road creating music. They played for nearly four hours, gaining steam with each number – owning the crowd from the start, and never relinquishing it. The first set was brilliant. Brendan Bayliss mindfully picked his spots, being the foundation, while allowing Jake Cinninger’s A.D.D.-inspired picking to take the comfortably crowded dance floor on countless jaunts. This was especially apparent during, “Tribute to the Spinal Shaft” as they traded off solos, pushing the music to domains few bands achieve. The opening half ended with a mystifying, “Booth Love” into a soulful, “JaJunk.” Joel Cummings, behind his modest keyboards, proved he is the anchor that keeps this musical boat grounded. When the members veer into uncharted water, he always reels them back with his impeccable timing. Every bit as the initial set was remarkable; the boys would achieve real musical genius with the second stanza of the evening.

After a short intermission, UM returned to the stage and an animated, “The Floor” bled into the complicated gem, “Bright Lights, Big City.” Jeff Waful’s kaleidoscopic lights leaped with the notes while the masses draped around the music. As the boys took a breath, Mr. Bayliss took the time to acknowledge many fans in attendance who were celebrating milestone shows. It was obvious that the loyalty of their fan base meant a lot.

The rest of the set contained coveted songs with spacy jams that segued into one another before revisiting the original number, creating remarkable musical sandwiches that would even make Dagwood Bumstead drool. The controlled chaos included extended versions of, “Nemo,””Hangover,” ”2×2” and the rarity, “FF.” The unparalleled rhythm section, of Ryan Stasik on bass, drummer Kris Myers and Andy Farag on percussion, propelled the music into new terrain. The band displayed patience, letting the music unfold and the memorable set ended well past midnight with an explosive, “The Triple Wide.”

While the crowd chanted, “We want the funk,” Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage pulverizing the GnR classic, “It’s So Easy.” They closed the night by a dedicating their cocky head-banging original, “Nopener” to Conspirator. It was a fitting end to a monumental show, as the days of Umphrey’s opening are clearly behind them.


There are 3 comments associated with this post

Fact Checker September 27, 2012, 11:11:32

Conspirator has actually been around for a while.
Umph played for two and a half hours.
It was Stasik who mentioned the milestone shows, not Bayliss.
FF is not that rare.
The crowd was shouting “We want the Umph”.
Other than those points, good review.

umphreak September 29, 2012, 16:01:01

Does Vince still pay people at jamon to play newer umphreys tunes? I know the huge underlying problem is good musicians without a good new song in bordering on 7 years or whenever anchor drops came out. I know there is tons of tension as the band has less people show up for its big shows and have had to move to smaller venues like NYE last year and this year. At the end of the day you cant get by on tunes like women wine and song or miami virture. they are terribly written for a band that produced divisions, believe the lie and other earlier good songs. Perhaps its hiatus and solo project time to refire the dwindling engines as they say. At least having your fans vote on covers for 10/31 is totally a spent concept, why not do it again. I know its only 90 mins north of Chicago but ticket sales were slow I heard from a person who works for the band. Maybe they should go back to the drawing board. Its sad to see good musicians just toss out jams they never did before because they lack good material. I feel bad for the guys because they know it and there is an underlying tension. We want the “umph”, just about 2000 of us instead of 4500.

Fact Checker ? September 30, 2012, 00:30:14

Although Conspirator have played shows in the past, they have never toured the south before.
Umph Played for over 3 hours.
Stastik did begin the the shout-out, but Bayliss went on to say how much it meant to the band.
FF has been played a total of 18 times since 98 including just 3 times this year. I think that would qualify as rare.
You and the other trustafarians that can afford to follow UM may have been shouting “We want the Umph” the rest of us were shouting Funk. Other than those points, you proved yourself to be a complete tool. Can not wait till Umphrey’s return to the south. Memphis was great, but The Ryman was the Heat.

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