Reviews attached to November 2, 2013

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boarder1720 November 26, 2013
Cold November nights in Wisconsin and Umphrey’s McGee have always had the ingredients for a magical show. Dating back to 2006 and even further back if you include October the band is always on point this time of year. Add a great theater that Waful crushed and this night was another one of those nights. I was beyond excited driving up last minute since my last two set Umphrey’s show had been the Bill Graham private show way back in April.

The show opened up with silky smooth Plunger > Much Obliged > Plunger Sammy giving us a nice treat of some older tunes. The drop into M.O. was spot on where the transition in Plunger normally is which lead to funky jam with a raging peak before bouncing back into the end of M.O. and then fading beautifully into the end of Plunger with a Joel lead piano solo. Everything about this sandwiched screamed Umphrey’s McGee, the precisions and execution was flawless.

Next came Higgins with an exceptional jam, Stasik stepped up and leads the way with an infectious groove that everyone built around. Once again the flow in and out of Higgins was superb. This dance party Higgins got followed up by a rare treat in another old tune Sweetness. This leads some very uplifting, graceful improv landing on a rock riff that Jake ends up teasing Rebubula briefly before he shreds his way into funky riffs everyone picks up on and then BOOM! It drops into Comma Later.

No Diablo came next, a song debut at UMBowl earlier this year and only played 5 times prior. I really dig the Supertramp vibe and I’m glad it’s getting played. Finally, the highlight of the show for me closed out the first set with an extended 40’s Theme that included a verse of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”. Once again the MVP of the night, Ryan Stasik stepped up with some Sublime bass effects that had the place going ape shit until it fizzled into The Police which lead to equal excitement from the crowd. The band then slowly grooved back into the end of 40’s and walk off stage leaving us eager with anticipation for set two.

The second started off with another monster rock sandwich in Mantis > Mulche’s Odyssey > Mantis. Mantis is a tune I really wish would get improv all the time but not tonight, however the powerful first verse had the energy flowing from the start and that spilled over into an insanely powerful Mulche’s. Jake was toying with the Who Knows? riff in the rock breakdown but never went into it. Once again they kept a sold out crowd going full force before finishing the tune and ever so carefully segueing back into Mantis.

Following up this huge sandwich was Miami Virtue, the highlight of set two without a doubt. This version clocks in just under 15 minutes, 10 of which is improv and it is really something special. It has a slow intro where Jake walks over and joins Joel on keys and then they proceed to lay down some very tasty layers together. This dark jam is a great example of where everyone comes together and is doing just enough to mesh together something great. As the tempo picks up everything seems to take form and a masterful team effort unfolds. Bayliss really lays down some licks as this builds up before cutting out into some keys and synthesizer where this dark jam sees the light and transpires into a glorious uplifting jam. This jam then quietly fades into the night with a slow segue into a standard JaJunk where yet again Stasik stepped up and laid down some bubbly bass. The band closed out the second with a crowd favorite cover of Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” which hadn’t seen the light of night in 577 shows. They encored with a standard Bridgeless which I consider a treat since it seems rare to catch a standalone Bridgeless these days, even if it normally creates great improv. A great choice by the band to close out a show that rocked from start to finish.

carmelocorn February 11, 2014
By the final day of the Halloween run, most of my crew was hurting. Too much bourbon and beer had our hotel room smelling like the bathroom of a Wisconsin dive bar. Saturday’s show was sold out but I ended up getting a wristband for the floor, which ended up being completely packed with people. I was forced to stand behind a guy wearing a huge mushroom head hat and next to a girl that decided to conserve space by grinding on my leg like a dog humping its favorite teddy bear.

As far as Umphrey’s goes, this was definitely their most animated show of the weekend. Jake and Ryan were all over the place, both musically and physically. The first set contained an unfinished version of The Police’s “The Bed’s Too Big Without You”, which made me realize that I will probably never get a chance to hear Umphrey’s cover “Walking on the Moon” live. Also, it’s about time for Umph to tackle ”Man in a Suitcase”.

The final mash-up of the weekend was “Push the Booth Deeper” and it was confusing as hell! Most of us had no clue what was going on, which song was being played or whether all three originals were being played at the same time. A friend was able to get a hold of the song’s notes and confirmed the cluster of confusion from which this mash-up was birthed. To be honest, I am still trying to wrap my head around it.

Umphrey’s McGee finally ended the second set on Saturday night by busting out the Metallica rager, “…And Justice for All”, which hadn’t been performed live in over five years. But the real highlight of the evening was the relentless “Bridgeless” encore. As the tune progressed, one particular audience member could no longer contain his excitement. This very dirty looking man ran across the stage without shoes on, only to be tackled by the stage crew in front of the sold out crowd. It was then rumored that the same wook ended up outside the venue about an hour later going absolutely insane without a single piece of clothing on his body. And thus, a Halloween weekend full of mash-ups and debauchery came to an end.