After weeks of being snowed in, we made the ride to Portland. Word was the Couch Tour stream unable to happen, there was a full blown snow squall at doors open with near white-out conditions that made it an adventure right up to the gate.. and the room energy was certainly high as the audience trickled in from the cold wind and snow. Tauk opened. My first time hearing those guys live and it was a great experience that drew in those cold feet for the first round of dancing. I'll focus on UM here though.
Set I. While the room sound is not the greatest at the State, a little boomy at best, the music was excellent. Most of first set was spent in the balcony. All of second set was spent grooving on the Goldside. Listening back to the umlive version now, it starts out very energetic. A nice Drink My Drank into The Floor. Divisions takes off, drops a mad drum jam in the midst and finds it way off to a smooth Stanton (2nd time played). After dancing around that theme they return back to Divisions for a good wrap-up with some nice belts from Brendan.
My personal feeling at this point is the band feels like the eyes of the world are off them a bit. Stream is cut off, no one but us is watching. They aren't rushing and its very electrified. The band is beaming. I like it. Mulche's Odyssey kicks off with some tight energy and is another example of some of the wild execution they nail tonight. Yet again, frenetic pace but patiently done. The mid-song groove is heavy and dirty, gives way to the main theme, and drops into a pleasant funk zone that is peppered with some nice spacey, padded out jams. Doesn't take long for the night's abundant energy to come back either! Back on the Mulche's theme proper, and I'd just say listen. This speaks for itself. Umphrey's is doing exactly what they do best and it is certainly a stand out moment of the first set for me. Short breather, and we get to the nights first Similar Skin offerings.
The Linear starts out strong, solid version. Vocals are on point, Jake peppers the lines with some fun guitar work throughout. The bottom drops out, we fall into a very ambient zone. Getting that sensation again that we're a cut off from the world. Guitar gently teases the chords to Cut The Cable and there it is. Tight playing, great vocals. Really dug this! Short and to the point. Another pretty decent pause. Again not feeling any sense of being rushed in this! They pull out October Rain and it is thoughtful and precise from the get go. I haven't heard this song live, and was impressed with its styling. Quick breath and we drop into Live and Let Live. Solid version, strong playing throughout. Nice way to end a strong set with some familiar tunes and some I'd never seen played live before. Notable songs for me were Mulche's, October Rain, Live and Let live.
Set II begins with Bridgeless and is a solid rocking opener for the later night. Vocals are good, playing tight as well. There is no sense they lost that pace from first set. A punctuated jam space gives way to Hang Up Your Hang Ups another second time played offering. Nothing lacking in this song either, and the band plays on through a few iterations with an intense Joel driven segment near the end. Feel like getting in the van? Yes Brendan, we do. Get in the Van is solid, executed flawlessly. After a ride around Portland in the van, we park ourselves back under the Bridgeless. The intense high-speed chase that is the end of Bridgeless runs wonderfully and well.
"This one's for you, Joel." Counterpoint to the set start in pocket, FF rises from the mid-set fire - a gift from Brendan to Joel - which is wrapped to suit in execution that's defined the show overall. Tight, energetic, and very fun to dance to. Darker themes begin to play the end of FF with a return to some deep ambiance. We drop into Made to Measure. This song follows the trend of an night full of great offerings. Some really cool guitar work accompany the stomping piano lines, with vocals from the band on par with the music. We're never ever slowing down, and when we hit groove time it's unique and rhythmically piano driven. I'm beginning to really dig the prominent Joel tonight. Lose yourself teases and a smooth hip hop element round out the end of Made to Measure before rocketing off into 40's Theme back to an absolutely electric pace. 40's Theme never fails to deliver for me, and this is no different. Well done, and totally jammin'. The texture turns smooth and funky as the song progresses. Bit of a breather again, compared to the rest of set II!
The band introductions go 'round and a little Game of Thrones theme comes out before we hit the End of the Road. Sweetly played, with some arrangement much unlike the studio version. Definitely a cool space presented here that rolls nicely into Roulette. Roulette carries on with the nice execution of the night. Good vocal harmonies over the verses. "Question is, are you guys read to rock?" Slacker jumps and jams its way to the close of set II. Great version, and very lively! It builds to an excellent crescendo that doesn't want to quit. Now they've played a few great gigs in Portland in past years though this may well be an example of the best they've given us so far in my opinion. A combination of a very choice set list and top notch execution throughout. Notable songs for set II were Made To Measure, 40's Theme, and Slacker.
Encore: The Triple Wide. A favorite of mine, and what can be said that hasn't already been said about this one. Just as good as the rest of the show, and a fitting close to a great night.
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