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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.

carmelocorn February 11, 2014
For Friday night, I signed up for Headphones and Snowcones. It basically cost me $40 for a pair of headphones that streamed a live audio mix directly from the soundboard to my tympanic membranes. This was the first time I tried the experience for an entire show and now I’m afraid live music will never sound the same. These headphones allowed me to tune out the rest of the world so I could get completely lost in the moment. This type of experience is the reason I am so in love with live music and now I don’t know how I will be able to fully enjoy a show without a set of headphones on. So it goes.

The second set on Friday opened with a DBK club sandwich and contained the night’s only debut mash-up: “The Final Teen Spirit”. Dramatic synths from Europe’s “The Final Countdown” directly clashed with Nirvana’s grunge classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The simplicity of mashing only two songs into one seamless tune made this one of the most successful, straightforward mash-up of the weekend.

Brother’s Rage played a smoking after party show on Friday night that featured one of my favorite sit-ins to date. Jake Cinninger, the other worldly guitarist from Umphrey’s McGee, joined the late night act for a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Estimated Profit” followed by some spacey improv. The jam eventually slammed into the sweaty disco tune, “You Should be Dancing” originally by the Bee Gee’s and featured Mr. Barry Brown on vocals. Needless to say, a legendary dance party erupted among all who attended and continued into the early morning hours.

Originally posted:

carmelocorn February 11, 2014
Halloween is a BIG weekend for the infamous Umphrey’s McGee. These novelty shows usually follow a tradition of busting out a handful of debut covers in a variety of ways, including combining them together into one beastly monster called a ‘mash-up’. I knew I couldn’t miss a single night of this year’s mash-up run, so I took up residence at a hotel suite directly across from the Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater along with ten of my closest friends. The first night of the run was actually on Halloween, plus all three shows were being streamed and taped for later release. I guess it goes without saying that this weekend was destined to be mashed to another level.

I spent the first half of Halloween day sewing together my Hell’s Belle costume, which was a mash-up of the devil and Belle from Beauty and the Beast. I was definitely ready to rock and roll in my AC/DC get up and, needless to say, the members of Umphrey’s were also dressed to impress for this special holiday. Brendan Bayliss was HeisenBert Reynolds, Jake Cinninger was Silent Bob Seger, Kris Myers was Dr. Phil Spector, and Andy Farag was Paul Ryan Braun, to which the Milwaukee crowd boo’d and hissed as he was introduced. But the best costume had to of been Joel Cummins dressed as Uncle Jesse Pinkman.

The first mash-up song of the night came at the end of the first set. It featured “When Doves Cry” by Prince, blended with Umph original “Pay the Snucka” and Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. While ”Don’t Fear the Doves, Snucka” was fairly well mashed, I felt like it didn’t have quite enough cow bell to really pull it off.

Halloween night’s second set contained the next mash-up; “Papa Can Change a Blurred Stone”. This was probably my least favorite debut of the weekend, mostly because Umphrey’s covered Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”. This pop song has haunted me at every wedding, club, and dive bar I patronized over the past six months and the fact that I had to endure it once again while watching my favorite band was the ultimate Halloween trick. Not only that, but it completely overpowered The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, and LCD Soundsystem in the process. I am not sure whose idea it was to cover that specific song but I have a feeling bassist Ryan Stasik was involved, especially since his mash-up costume was Batman & Robin Thicke.

The final mash-up of the night stayed true to the yearly Halloween Mash-up Show tradition of saving the best for last. “Highway to Electric Avenue” was probably the most well mashed song of the Halloween show and seemed deliberately put aside for the show’s encore. Umphrey’s original “The Triple Wide” helped set off the mash-up’s pace which eventually evolved into a game of double-dutch between AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” and Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue”.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that this mash-up contained a song by the same band that inspired my Hell’s Belle costume. Besides the three mash-ups, the setlist from Halloween contained heavy hitter after heavy hitter without a single song from the albums Mantis or Anchor Drops thrown in the mix. Fancy that.

Originally posted:

carmelocorn February 11, 2014
Denver was a busy city on New Year’s Eve. The String Cheese Incident was playing their 20th anniversary show just outside the city while Pretty Lights was headlining EDM extravaganza, Decadence in the heart of downtown. Umphrey’s McGee, on the other hand, was wrapping up a four night New Year’s run at Fillmore Auditorium. I hadn't caught an Umphrey’s NYE show in over two years and there was truly no place I’d rather be.

I arrived at the venue just before the show started. My road beverage turned to liquid gold as I waited in a line that wrapped around the Fillmore and into a quaint Denver neighborhood. Luckily it wasn’t too cold outside, or maybe it was the alcohol, but everyone was feeling pretty good, until we heard the crowd roar from within the venue.
Frustration and panic washed over my face. With each note that followed, the pain burrowed deeper into the pit of my stomach. I realized that this was probably my version of hell; being stuck in a line outside a venue only to hear the empty echoes of my favorite songs being played inside while energetic lights escape from a securely guarded door.

The line moved slower than expected and I ended up missing the first forty minutes of the show, which included “Le Blitz > Phil’s Farm > Ocean Billy”. Therefore, the first official song on my New Year’s Eve setlist was a sassy “Mail Package” that Jake Cinninger soulfully delivered. It was followed by a thrashing “Wizard Burial Ground” that Brendan Bayliss comically dedicated “to all the lovers out there.”

Umphrey’s ended the first set of NYE with a debut of a never before played original, “Bad Friday”. This song was probably the highlight of the show. With the help of Mad Dog’s Filthy Secret on horns, Jake’s familiar soul riff finally took flight. A catchy backbeat turned this new Umph tune into straight-up pop music. From the first notes, a disco dance party formed under glimmering crystal chandeliers, which seemed to float above the crowd.

I love being present when an original song is played for the first time because it puts everyone on the same level. From the most avid fan to the kid experiencing their first show, no one knows what will happen next. It made me recollect the first time Umphrey’s played “Puppet Strings” at Summer Camp and my visceral reaction to hear it over and over again. I predict “Bad Friday” will be Umphrey’s bust out song of the 2014; much like “Puppet Strings” was in 2011.

Second set was much stranger than the first. A horn section, appropriately labeled Mad Dog’s Filthy Secret, added a deeper level of weird to Umphrey’s musical landscapes. The sounds engulfed me since I was wearing a pair of headphones that streamed live soundboard audio. My previous experiences with Headphones and Snowcones convinced me that this was the best way completely submerge myself in the live music experience. So why not rock them at Umphrey’s biggest show of the year? The headphones demanded my focus be on the music throughout the first set so I chose to venture through the crowd alone during the second to get a better view of the stage.
I felt like an island surrounded by people, something that further enhanced my response to Umphrey’s debut cover of “Twilight Zone”, which also included teases of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”. I zoned into the way Jake commanded his guitar while Brendan attempted to catch the rhythm. It all felt like it wasn’t adding up so I started making friends with the strangers around me and eventually found myself covered in Umphlove stickers.

Songs like “40′s Theme” and “Booth Love” were done justice by the addition of horns, while ”No Diablo” finally got a chance to dig deeper into its Motown roots. Umphrey’s ended the set on a high note with the most unforgettable cover of the night, Phil Collins’ “Sussudio”. Once again, the strangeness crept in as I recalled American Psycho’s analysis of Phil’s work. At this point I began to realize that maybe this weird feeling was strictly subjective.
Third set began just before midnight with an insane version of “Hurt Bird Bath”. In keeping with tradition, Umphrey’s had never played this song into the New Year. Jeff Coffin, along with the rest of Mad Dog’s Secrets, amped up the energy of “Hurt Bird Bath” like I had never seen it before. The insane build up of the song made me appreciate the true meaning of “rage” in how it relates to the actions of a raving maniac.

By now I had found most of my friends standing right in front of the sound board in the center of the ballroom. This spot provided the best view I experienced all night. Light designer Jefferson Waful was perched on a tall platform just behind us and his devotion to symmetry made the room’s visual landscape just as stimulating as the audio coming from the headphones.

But when the countdown started, I removed my headphones. This was not a time when I wished to block out the rest of the room. Umphrey’s provided all the elements necessary to engrave this moment in my head for the rest of my life. Balloons and confetti fell from the ceiling. My focus switched from the stage to the people around me. Smiling from ear to ear, I hugged my friends and wished them the best in 2014.

Whimsical swirls of energy surrounded us as the band ventured into the New Year’s classic “Auld Lang Syne”. After spending a handful of past New Year’s Eves with Umphrey’s, I knew this was coming. I even looked up a few verses of the song before the show in preparation, so when I heard those first few notes I belted out the lyrics as loud as I could, greeting 2014 with a song.

It was all so intoxicating; the music, energy of the room, glow of the lights, and smell of weed becoming legal. At midnight Colorado became the first state to legalize marijuana, something I never thought I’d experience in my lifetime. It made me feel like I was part of something BIG just by being there. New Year’s always offers a fresh start with limitless possibilities, and this was no exception.

The rest of the third set was pure perfection. “Hit It and Quit It”, a debut Funkadelic cover, provided just enough raunchiness to everyone’s juices flowing. I turned my headphones over to some friends so I could share the experience. The look on their faces was of pure ecstasy.
The night ended with an appropriate “Resolution” encore that jammed out the New Year’s classic, “Auld Lang Syne” and eventually segued into Kool & the Gang’s “Funky Stuff”. Umphrey’s was once again joined by Mad Dog’s Filthy Secrets to conclude the long night of music on a high note.

While strange, the night felt perfect in every way.

Original post:

carmelocorn October 17, 2012
There was a very relaxed, fluid feel to this show. The band was at the end of tour and happy to have a long summer of fests and shows behind them. It almost seemed like this was the show they were waiting for to leave it all on the table. Conduit>Glory>Conduit was very perfectly inspired and Kimble was a treat. Jake was his usually sassy self in Synco and the jam with Magner was straight fire. Lots of teases throughout mixed with a little ghetts and lil old skewl flavor made for a very encompassing show.

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