Outstanding show last night. I guess that is to be expected as UM is batting 1.000 at The Calvin. Some of my friends were sort of "meh" on the first set, but I disagree. Set one was bookended by two great pieces of improv in Fir and The Haunt. I was ecstatic to get both of those tunes in the same set. Admittedly the middle of the set (while well played) didn't pack the punch that the rest of the show did. The Nemo/AD sandwich was well executed but most of us diehard fans would have preferred a jam in Nemo in place of Anchor Drops, c'est la vie. I don't love Deeper, but the ethereal jam that came out of it was nice. A standard Billy was cut short by Bayliss on the talkback mics. This was a great move IMO as it allowed for The Haunt to really have room to stretch its legs. Jake was all over the Haunt jam conducting the band and being the mad stork that he can be up on stage. Truly a frenetic and awesome Haunt jam, I hope that it holds up on tape.
While set one was "good solid Umphrey's," set two was the stuff that makes me keep seeing these guys and makes it easy to provide an answer when asked: "who is your favorite band?" The Preamble fakeout into JaJunk was a nice twist and the JaJunk jam absolutely crushed. We were in for a real throwdown in set two as something clicked onstage and we were to treated incredibly compelling improv over the rest of the set. JaJunk, MO, LMS, BLBC and Sociable Jimmy ALL had great jams in them. I need a relisten to opine on Brendan's lyrical stew out of Much Obliged but every jam in set two delivered. There was a"middle eastern metal" (a section played during a past UMBowl S2 quarter) jam coming out of Last Man Swerving that was one of several highights in the set. I have been fortunate over the past few years to catch some 99th percentile UM shows (10/29/14, 8/8/14, 10/18/12 and 4/28/12 are good examples) and honestly I am not sure I have seen a better and more interesting set than set two last night. I should probably wait for the afterglow to wear off or to at least have a relisten via the UMlive app, but frankly I don't need it. What an awesome set of music. The Soul Food II>Soul Food I>end of Mantis encore was just icing on the proverbial cake (I also thought I head some Bad Poker teases from Jake in SFI but will need to confirm). There aren't enough superlatives to describe just how great last night's show (with emphasis on the second set) was. The song selection was also incredible. To get two highly sought after rarities like The Haunt and Last Man Swerving in the same show is enough of a treat in and of itself. One thing that is notable is that there weren't any tunes from Similar Skin played (this also happened on 10/29/14) and that was somewhat refreshing. While I love the SS material, gettting a "rest" from some of the songs that have been in heavy rotation since the album dropped helped to enhance the flow of the setlist/show. This is not a critique of SS or the frequency with which some of those tunes are played, just an observation. Folks who are looking for a sterling example of what UM is capable of would do well to check this show out. It was special.
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