All Things Umphrey's > McLSucks → Reviews

McLSucks October 20, 2012
On this, the 12th anniversary of my first show, I thought I'd share what little I remember about it. They had been hyped up to me by a few friends, including one who'd been seeing them at Notre Dame since the start.

they were really talented...I couldn't tell when one song ended and the next one began.
The Hair Band Medley was *AWFUL*. There was some random girl on-stage singing a song or two, and the band clearly regretted that decision.

but really, my strongest memories about this show don't stem from the music, but my impressions of the band and organization, and how seriously they take the music.

leaving the show, I wasn't sure to think. I taped the show (no idea where the tape actually wound up), and when I went to retrieve my deck, KB told me to throw the tape away or tape over it...that the show was terrible. Vince, an acquaintance of my friend who encouraged me to attend the show, also said something similar, he apologized for a poor show. Weird, right? I didn't think it was that bad...I was entertained and impressed enough to give them another shot at some point (and living in Illinois, those were rather frequent)

The following week, I met Brendan at a Disco Biscuits show in Chicago. He was informed that this had been my first show. He profusely apologized, declaring that I shouldn't judge the band based upon that performance, and hoped I would give them another shot.

Fast-forward 3 years later, a show at the Canopy, I bring up how this was my first show to Pony, sure enough, he had a vivid memory of the show was and expressed shock that I ever returned.

12 years later...they're going strong as ever, playing as consistently as they ever have at any point in their career. So glad I was able to overcome a poor first impression of the music (but a great first impression of everyone involved)

strangely, the All Things Ninja from this show made it onto One Fat Sucka.

McLSucks October 19, 2012
Some nights will live forever, the fourth and final night of the run with Joshua Redman will remain with me in perpetuity. link. Well worth the effort of converting from FLAC.

First set was fairly standard, a nice subtle Kat's Tune seemed an innocuous intro after a rowdy Saturday night in NYC the night before. A reasonable Much Obliged > Crooked couldn't really prepare for what happened next, though.

FF and the ensuing jam would contain one of those monumental pieces of improv that you chase all over the country for. It started with one of those ascending chord progressions that lends itself to a slow-building crescendo, and that's what the band delivered. A fun little Bayliss pull-off riff sets the melody and off they go. I've listened to this probably over 100 times, and it's really funny to hear that the band doesn't quite know how to play it. Jake is struggling to play the "right" notes, Brendan seems to keep slightly modifying his riff because it doesn't sound "100% right"...but they keep plowing through, and they keep taking it higher and higher. Of course, none of that actually matters. The build itself, basking in the sound, is life-affirming. This would be attempted a couple more times (most notably on 12/3/04), but I contest that none would ever equal this one.

Rest of the set is standard fare. After that FF, everyone was looking at each other..."did you just see that?"...a shared moment that everyone was still buzzing about through setbreak.

This Joshua Redman cat, he's got a future. He had really managed to gel by this fourth night. On this evening, the band had no fear of stretching songs far beyond their boundaries and Redman was gladly along for the ride. It was difficult to contain my giddiness when World's Running Down seemed clear this set was going to be different, they took off as a 7-piece unit with no looking back...then the drop into Blue Echo was unexpected and I knew it would be another opportunity for them to stretch things out...again...they did not disappoint.

All Things's impressive that of the songs in the UM repertoire, UM would choose this as a song option for him to learn, and he would choose to learn it. I suppose it shouldn't have been that much of a surprise after seeing how well they played Der Bluten Kat together...but still...Ninja? Yes, please.

And finally, we come to Wife Soup... This is the ultimate Wife Soup for me, featuring a Redman contribution that become referred to as The Note. If you're not familiar...I implore you to check out this show if only for The Note. Of course, I'd think you'd be ludicrous to not enjoy the rest of it...but this, again, was one of those be lucky enough to be there...The Note was like a shot of endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine...all of those chemicals your body produces that make you feel good from natural stimuli? This was that stimulus.

Unfortunately, as the second set ran long (due to the lengthy improv), the DBK encore had to be cut, but hey...Waiting Room is always a great encore/set closer.

McLSucks October 18, 2012
Another one of those crazy Canopy the previous December, something must have been in the air and they busted out a unique one this evening.

The show opens with a 14 minute Mulche's, the first time it was ever given the treatment. There's not one but two worthwhile improvisational sections. I still wish that the song's improvisational future would have tailored more to this version.

Fussy > Tomorrow Never Knows is still the best segue in the UM repertoire...when that first crash of TNK hits...straight butter.

Gotta love the XRT Xmas Medley...debuted the night before and played once more this evening. punk jingle bells > country deck the halls > reggae grandma got run over by a reindeer > carol of the bells. another example of the humor, creativity and chops pervasive in UM. some pretty funny 'fuck yeah'-ing at the end, too.

A rather solid version of Water that sees jake and brendan slowly drifting away from the middle section into some great dissonant territory with Kris leading the charge behind them.

Phil's > Glory > Phil's > 14 min stew > middle section of N2F > Phil's...just listen to this one.

The rare Pork Chop Pie, 9 years later, is still a song I request over and over. Such a great carryover from the Ali Baba's Tahini oeuvre.

some silliness with Hysteria > In Violation of Yes.

then the 26 minute Nothing Too Fancy > Ocean Billy > Nothing Too Fancy encore is about as strong a finish as you can get.

Listen to it on the Archive

McLSucks October 18, 2012
A Minnesota Vikings bar in Louisville, KY on a Tuesday night. Even back in 2003, one of those instances where you knew the band could kick back and be loose. The opening "DCI jam" (which was meant to poke fun at the DCI instructional videos that involve the musicians soloing in rounds) turned into a 14 minute monster with a glorious peak...yet further proof in the first two weeks of the Myers era that these guys weren't going to be slowing down. The riff that Jake starts 11:08...and then him and bb trade back and forth and build off of for the next 3 minutes is what St. Peter should have playing at the pearly gates...

Soul Food I was playful with a bunch of teases

The last appearance of the Thelonius Monk tune, Well You Needn't is noteworthy...another of those early jazz tunes that slowly faded into oblivion.

The Pure Imagination tease during Padgett's is pretty damn cool, but the Anchor Drops is my highlight of the second set. A lengthy, across the board, multi-sectional stewart that found its way into The Breeders' Cannonball, but then settled into a reggae groove that I still can't get out of my head, commonly referred to as "Ragamuffin." I don't know of any earlier appearances of Ragamuffin, it did pop up again on 4/1/03 (which was included in the Raw Stewage) and 4/22/03, and then again at UMBowl III during the S2 set. If you know of any other version, please let me know!

sometimes you got to be a ragamuffin
and a mine mine mine mine mine

stand tall/firm with two feet on the ground
with two feet on the ground
lord have mercy

Glory > Snucka III encore is classic UMnanigans

other than that, fairly solid playing...but it's the intro jam, Soul Food I and Anchor Drops for which you should check out this show over at

McLSucks October 18, 2012
A historic show for so many reasons. I implore all serious Umphreaks to check this one out over at

the show opened with a funny Get in the Van gag...they played the false start of the song...and then walked back off stage.

The 40's Theme with Jamie Janover on toy guitar has to be heard to be believed. It remains one of the most mindblowing "how the hell did they do that so well" moments. They way the band traded licks with the toy guitar is hilarious and musically impressive at the same time. This then turned into the oft repeated Zsa Zsa Gabore jam, and then a fantastic full-fledged stwart after it before returning to 40's.

The Zsa Zsa jam would make it's glorious return on 4/28/12 after many years in hibernation...but the coolest part is that they also brought back the 2nd part of the 40's stew and made it a vocal stewart.

Second set opens with a 24 minute triple wide that features a lot of patient, ambient jamming. a must hear.

The other historic aspect is the stewart out of Mulche's that features the first appearance of instrumental sections from both Ocean Billy and Wife Soup.

Push the Pig with November Rain ending was also hilarious.

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