By Tara Gracer
Photos by Sabrina Palmer
You know it’s going to be a good show when Kris Myers runs out on stage waving a foot-long sandwich and trying to hand it out to the crowd while the band goes into the famous rare sing-a-long, Front Porch, as an opener.
But where to even begin? This show was fully packed to the brim with requests and tributes, wrapped up like a present with a bow, gracefully handed to the audience by the band to unravel joyfully. After the first verse of Front Porch, the band quickly moved to Resolution, which contained a Cinninger crescendo lead with heavy Stasik riffs and a tease of Back In Black by ACDC with no lyrics. The band went back into Front Porch, which featured birthday celebrant Steve Britz, a long time member of UM’s crew, on percussion with Farag, before Cummins took a lead on the synths. A rendition of Happy Birthday was sung for Steve alongside a birthday cake delivered on stage, which everyone jokingly stuffed their faces with. Cummins jumped into his southern hoedown, Root Beer Rag (last played 2003-11-29). The band went back into Front Porch to segue into a Led Zeppelin cover, Hey Hey What Can I Do, a request for pinja extraordinaire, Sam Sutton, for his 200th show just to go back into Front Porch again and finish it off. We still were not done with the first set. The music continued into a 2×2 with a fancy dance jam, a straight-through Little Gift, a soft and tender The Pequod, and then an intense metal Mulche’s Odyssey to end the first set.
The second set was clearly about getting down to some improvisations, such as the opener’s Dump City “pong style” trance jam. A spacey The Linear followed with a rough metal build up that perfectly, precisely transitioned into The Bottom Half, which had an uplifting melancholy jam. FF was dedicated to the father who celebrated his 100th show and brought his 7-year old daughter for her 1st show. She proudly held those rock hands up in the front row while sitting on her father’s shoulders throughout the song, which also contained teases of Fool In the Rain by Led Zeppelin since it was pouring outside. A solid Out of Order followed by what is generally an “opener”, Le Blitz, which transitioned into a crowd shouting Domino Theory. Roundabout was played as a tribute to a fallen musical member of Yes!, Chris Squire. Although the second set seemed shorter compared to the first, the band teased the crowd by playing Front Porch one last time and sealed the show with an unusual encore choice, Thin Air, which contained a verse from Rainbow Country by Bob Marley. To the devoted Umphreaks, the only tiny tidbit the show might have been missing was a lyrical stew to completely seal off the package as the best show of 2015. But plenty of others that attended the show will say the combination of the ridiculous Front Porch madness of the first set and the tribute driven, jam heavy second set is every Umphreak’s dream. This show was definitely one for the memory books because of the enthusiasm and clowning of the crowd and the band as well as the birthdays and milestones of the Umphrey’s McGee community.