Author: Joshua Colky

it’s you Album Review

Umphrey’s has been a busy band. Within the past five months, the group has released a fantastic album, played over thirty-three shows, released a remix disc, reanimated numerous side projects. Now, Umphrey’s adds to that amazing production rate with an unanticipated full-length disc, full of eccentric new tracks and studio iterations of fan favorites, ensuring that Umphrey’s zealots will certainly find something that will delight them in 2018. “it’s you” is the second solid record to come from this recording session and, similar to its predecessor, not every track is instantaneously accessible. Umphreaks will need to revisit some tracks repeatedly to make their own assessment, becoming further smitten with each listen. Where “it’s not us” focused on juxtaposition throughout every element, “it’s you” feels more like a giant soup of songs that turned out as tasty (or better) as its glossy predecessor.

Triangle Tear, with its complex opening, with its interlocking guitar and keys riffs, followed arena rock style build, starts the album off with tons of energy. Unfortunately, the over-polished, heavily layered vocals do not serve the run-on cryptic lyrics well, neither does their sing-song delivery and they are lace themselves extensively throughout the verses. When stripped from the glitz, Triangle Tear has a chance to really shine and the song is redeemed through its instrumental offerings like the opening riff, short manic guitar solos, and a breakout cessation segment which acts as a placeholder for prospective improvisational drop-ins in a live environment.

(Editor’s Note: Since we penned this review, Triangle Tear was played live at Summercamp Music Festival…and it sounds much better live.)

What We Could Get is a crunchy, Jake Cinninger led tune that is interjected by haunting vocals, a wailing guitar riff and a passionate, engaging chorus. A fuzzy, subtle acoustic guitar creates a satisfying depth to flesh out the resonant verses as concise riffs provide breaks between chorus cycles.

The following track, Push & Pull, highlights Brendan Bayliss’ trademark enigmatic lyrics which feel as if they could apply to a myriad of situations. The minstrel’s ability to say something profound without being over specific has been a hallmark of the band since inception, and here the words triumph impeccably. There are no snarling solos or resounding drums. Instead, vocals are the main feature and the end of the tune is accentuated by a Beatles-esque harmonized section that would make Paul McCartney grin.

One of the strongest tracks on the album is In the Black. Though the band has only taken the tune out of the garage for tune-ups a few times since the song, the jam has drummed up considerable demand among the fanbase. It was only a matter of time before this refined monster made its way back onstage. Instructions as to paying one’s debts and getting a word in are embedded in complex, orchestrated verses that jerkily hop to the chorus. Towards the end of the track, the hollow call of ‘Maybe it’s me and I’m misunderstanding you, lately it feels like I’m never getting through’ only gains meaning with each restatement until its powerful cry breaks into an monumental solo.

There is beauty in simplicity and Xmas at Wartime embodies this, especially when said clarity is surrounded by the complex cavalcade that is an Umphrey’s album. Lyricless quiet space can often be an unheralded respite and Xmas at Wartime exemplifies that tranquility. The keys interlace exquisitely with the acoustic guitars, reminding us of snowflakes in December and inspiring unalloyed emotion for the listener.

Seasons has a mesmerizing and jarring effect, forming a track that gleefully skips between main sections abruptly. Unfortunately, the hallway vocal effects detract slightly from the delivery of Bayliss’ thoughtfully crafted lyrics. This is easy to forgive as other elements like background guitars, interweaved piano and moogy key solos, make this a highlight among the previously unheard tunes. Light touches from the group’s special percussionist Andy Farag are scattered throughout the song, crescendoing to powerful, thunderous hand drum segment that swells the fervor within your spirit. Keyboardist Joel Cummin’s solitary trail off at the end adds a stupendous emotional brush stroke to a fantastically executed track, one we will hopefully hear many iterations of for years to come.

The heaviest track on “its you” is easily Netherand it shares the most in common with some of the bolder “it’s not us” tracks, blending tonal splashes from Dark Brush and Looks into a ritual that may cause you to redig through the closet for your Blood Altar. A gently distorted palm muted riff is quickly intermixed with whirling spiral keys. There is so much to love about this song. From the irrepressible lyrics and stilted build to the minute details, like a twinkling layer of Joel’s piano buried deep within the mix, or Kris Meyer’s snap drums and swift high-hat play, make for a delightfully produced tune that might be the best on the disc.

Like a drunken round hollered among arm in arm buddies across a crowded tavern, Hanging Chads makes for a amusing reprieve with a happy hate song. This track will be a ton of fun live one day, you can nearly imagine a room full of Umphreaks shouting the explicit lyrics in unison.

Veteran Attachments was born for the studio. Though the song debuted in late 2015 and has seen fifty-two plays since premier, in a live environment it often becomes muddled and fails to hold together sonically or to elevate into a meaningful jam. Not so on “it’s you”. The guitars are extremely well captured. The harmonies are clear and all falsettos pulled flawlessly. The solo is deliberate, skillful and sprightly. Studio clarity allows this track to truly shine as one of the few tracks in Umphrey’s catalogue that is better in the booth.

Fan favorite Upward is the strongest song lyrically on the disc.  This track has been a fan favorite since its inception in 2014,  when it had been paired with its inebriated falsetto brother Onwards at UMBowl 5, and it’s easy to see why. The first minute of Upward’s studio iteration is a bit different than its live antecedents: Bayliss, a lone acoustic guitar and a hanging electric high note punctuating the space. It nearly changes the entire mood of the song, momentarily lending a stripped bare take to a jam that’s always seemed so gloriously grandiose. The new arrangement can be a bit jarring for those who have become so familiar with the standard Upward’s intro, however, that familiarity is restored as the percussion comes crashing in before the second verse. The studio version does justice to a track already cemented into heavy rotation, sitting at a seat among the classics.

 

It is inevitable and somewhat unfair to “it’s you” that it always will be compared with“it’s not us” – the naming convention and time of release basically begs us to, though they are not audibly companion pieces. Without that contrast they stand on their own as separate, expertly crafted compositions. Many of the newest tunes are not as immediately accessible as anything from “it’s not us“, the band’s latest release probably shouldn’t be a novice’s first listen. That said, song-for-song, “it’s you” is more enjoyable than its precursor and seasoned Umphreaks will be gratified to find this disc has shed the poppy sheen that glossed the band’s previous work.

It is prototypical Umphrey’s to craft a secret, intricate and epic surprise like their most recent album.  The backend of the album is stacked with contenders for masterpiece jam vehicle mainstays and we can only hope that the songs on “it’s you” receive more live attention than their most recent forerunners. While Umphrey’s has yet to recreate a studio chef-dœuvre on par with their 2009 opus “Mantis”, it is not for lack of trying, and with “it’s you” their beginning to breach that level once more. The best part of this album is that it ignites excitement and optimism in the heart of any devotee. This is obviously not a band waning, relegating themselves to a handful of bustout-less shows in select easy sell out cities. Instead, this is a band who will not rest until they get the chance to give us their best, who is dedicated to the continued crafting distinct, unpredictable and challenging music in both live and studio environments. We happily intend to listen to every note of it.

Top Tracks:
Nether
Seasons
In the Black
Upward

 

It’s Not Us Review

It’s Not Us, the most recent release from Umphrey’s McGee, is an extremely diverse and well crafted disc, showcasing some of Umphrey’s best studio work in quite some time. While the band is unquestionably at their best in a live environment, they have occasionally produced groundbreaking studio work, and while it’s unlikely It’s Not Us will be nominated for an Album of the Year at the Grammys, it will more than meet the expectations of thousands Umphreaks nationwide. The recording feigns hints of a more cohesive work, but overall lacks a motif or story to bind it track by track. Instead, this is an album about juxtaposition where contrast is a constant from song to song or even verse to verse, lyrically and musically. There is a lot to discover buried in each layer and fans will find themselves falling further in love on each relisten. The album succeeds to entertain, enlighten and inspire on many levels, forming what is easily Umphrey’s strongest release since Mantis.

The album is energetic from its outset. Leadoff track The Silent Type has morphed considerably from the fan favorite lyrical Jimmy Stewarts formerly known as “Cigarette Cables”. The fuzz distortion has a Miami Virtue theme semi-grubby sound that feels like driving down the Florida shoreline. The distortion on the vocals here is appropriate and works well with Brendan’s voice. The layered guitars add considerable depth to the new arrangement, helping the track escape beyond it’s poppy shell.

As with many tracks on It’s Not Us, Looks sounds best through headphones where all the nuances can be distinctly heard. A lumbering 80s goth industrial sound is alive and well within this song. The rhythm formed by bassist Ryan Stasik’s prominent plucking offers a funk verse vibe that contrasts heavily with the open, airy chorus. The centerpiece of the track is an out of tune King Crimsonesque solo that adds appropriate spice to a cumbersome number.

Whistle Kids sheds off the grimy glam for a laid back rock vibe and some blues licks. The song, written about recovering from a hangover while dealing with children, is wittily composed and the vocals are well harmonized. The simple, stripped down track stands out nicely in comparison to all the layered and heavy on this disc.

Half Delayed bears reflections of The Smashing Pumpkins Drown. Built of shoegazey verses eventually bear way to a distorted crescendo where dual guitars drive and ascend in an energetic fuzz flight that promises to be a improvisation launchpad in the future.

Maybe Someday is the most instrumentally complex song on the album. A frankenstein of many hodgepodge segments glued together, the band pans genres from rock to jazz in this opus. The transitions between sections are fairly smooth and each portion of the song is unique and captivating in its own way. The stratum of sound from percussionist Andy Farag up through Brendan’s vocals is deep and fascinating. Make sure to listen to this track through headphones.

Remaining fairly true to it’s live incarnations, Remind Me embodies the rest of the album as a track perfectly divided between smooth and heavy. The shoulder shuffling, slinky guitar of the first segment accompanies well formed verses. The heavy section is formed by Joel’s haunting mellotron keys, insane finger flicking guitar solos and double bass drum kick pedal mania.

You and You Alone is simply gorgeous. The strongest track on the album lyrically, Brendan recites pure poetry in a love ballad that reflects on marriage and parenthood at once. Soft key chords mix seamlessly with quiet guitar licks, swelling sentiment until listeners are overcome. While there are many songs of sorrow among the Umphrey’s catalog, this dabble into lovesongs is exemplary and will make even the most stoic face shed a tear.

We have heard Forks a couple times live before. The album incarnation is very similar but heavily plays up the 80s elements in the best way. The track is peppered with symphonic sparkles and moves at a brisk, uplifting pace. A sense of exuberance runs throughout some of Brendan’s most cryptic lyrics on the album, music one could run marathons listening to.

Speak Up debuted live in 2015 but didn’t start to become interesting until the band opened it for expansive improvisation.  The studio rendition is playful and sprightly, relying heavily on keyboardist Joel Cummin’s fat organ notes, escorted by special guest saxophonist Joshua Redman.

The album’s low point is near the end. Piranhas has failed to develop into an interesting tune since its debut in 2014. A fairly straightforward cut from live to studio, the song’s linear layout and lack of variance cannot hold a candle to the surrounding tracks. The pop flavor and conventional structure creates a standard song. Previous efforts with a similar sequential build, like The Linear or Conduit, have been far more successful songs of a similar vein.

Listen to Dark Brush three times before you come to a conclusion about it. A driving distorted riff and breathy, haunting vocals make this tour de force heavy enough to be the new Wizards Burial Ground, and that will cause a decisive rift among listeners. Nothing this bold within the “jamband” community should be without debate. Dark Brush successfully takes the best elements of predecessors like Hindsight and Little Gift from 2014’s Similar Skin, and combines them with enough adventure and terror to generate nightmare specter scenery for any listener. Muffled, distorted banter and the overwhelming howl of the chorus will have this seance somehow stuck in your head.

On It’s Not Us, the band does an excellent job taking calculated risks while continuously evoking classic Umphrey’s sounds and techniques. Rhythmically the band takes lots of chances with lyrical pacing and more often than not it pays off. The boys have shown a preference to turn towards the heavy on studio albums and, in this scenario, it is a resonating audioscape nicely sprinkled with subtle sonic shimmers. The infrequent stumbles in songs do not detract from the overall audio experience whatsoever. This is not an Umphrey’s Dance Party record, though one can hear obvious on-ramps into future rhythmic Jimmy Stewarts, especially in the segues between diametrically opposed sections. There is lots to uncover here and while not every track will make it into heavy rotation, the majority should become mainstays. Embracing divergence and contrast, It’s Not Us confirms that Umphrey’s occasionally is able to surprise in studio like they often do on stage.

Top Tracks:
Whistle Kids
Maybe Someday
Remind Me
You & You Alone
Dark Brush

Little Sign of “Selling Out” in these Sell Out Shows

By Joshua Colky
Photography by Kristine Condon

The summer sun was beaming stupendously against the majestic desert rocks as Umphreaks began to file into Red Rocks Amphitheater for a full evening of improvisational onslaught. Umphrey’s McGee, in their 10th appearance upon the rocks, brought a small festival’s worth of a lineup and earned their second consecutive sell out. Not an easy feat over a holiday weekend during a year with major national competition (think midwest). In Colorado, the music obsessives become thirsty as the intimate interspersed annual shows become harder to get into (think Aspen and Boulder). With back-to-back sell outs under their belts, we may finally see some multi-night performances upon the Stonehenge in the Sky.

This year’s show was punctuated by a jam heavy, stacked first set and interesting song choices all around. New York City heavy progressive fusion quintet Tauk played an abridged set starting around six thirty in the evening as the venue began to fill in. By the time Papadosio brought out their untzfunk, the pavilion was at capacity, full of smiling, semi-inebriated faces who bumbled along the tiered seating towards their friends. As Umphrey’s took the stage, fireworks began to appear behind the stage from several various out-laying surrounding suburbs. Independence Day at Red Rocks is a unique musical experience that will never get repetitive.

Puppet String is a perfect opener, enjoyed by almost all various Umphreaks, a heavy jRed Rocks 2015 Bo Beanam vehicle that has seen much action throughout recent years. The Puppet contained a nice classic rock guitar solo coming out of the first section. Always an awkward transition, the band found its was into 2nd Self, an enduring Umphrey’s classic that is lighter in tone with a piano that skips hopscotch note to note throughout the tune, interlacing lingering fuzzy guitar leads. Go To Hell is a rugged, dark distorted monster, perfectly picked for the place, flicker finger hammer-on accenting the unchanging, heavy build.

Mulche’s Odyssey follows, standardly played as a launching pad for a giant meaty Higgins-within a-Mulche sandwich. The contained track is a highlight of the show, embodying a jam that initially belays a positive motif before quickly taking a dark turn when the Joel brings in a haunting piano. Extremely energetic, waves of sound work their way around the bass and piano, creating the elaborate, dynamic build that Umphrey’s is known for. The guitarists crescendo into bent notes and shredded spirals which wrap around themselves before landing back into the standard groove and riding it along Myer’s tidal wave drums. Landing back into Mulche’s, the band allows themselves and the audience a moment of calm during a stock sing-along No Diablo.

Fans were only allowed that brief reprieve before a mint rendition of Pay the Snucka commences, tons of sway causing collective audience hip gyration. One of the few dance grooves of the first set, this funk fest made seamless transition into Rocker 2, improvisation containing a slow, heavy building jam which plays off the original riff before sliding into a ladder climbing, layered jam with a hint of Lawrence of Arabia twisted into the song by Jake. His leads dance on until they stand alone and segue into a pretty, perfectly placed Pequod. Points awarded for the transition from Pequod into Pay the Snucka pt. 3, the band wraps a bow on the fantastic first set with guitars blazing and deafening drums.

Red Rocks 2015 Bo BeanA short set break was broken by Independence Day classic Ringo. This rendition was not as focused, containing sloppy breakdowns after the first and second “greasy animals” portions, where both the Jake and Joel seeming to have trouble finding direction. The space in the jams may have been intentional but did not work for the jam, and after a long meander the boys found their way back to the funk glide “Slim knows the score” section. Sleepily lingering its way out of Ringo was an untraditional, “alternate” rendition of Similar Skin single Cut the Cable. While light years better than the now-played-out original, the “alternate” version is maybe too patient, borderlining on sleepy before reaching a tonal mark where the guitar goes Gilmore and the leads linger alluringly. Joel sets the voice as Jake plays like a person possessed, sauntering confidently into a cover of Pink Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Done with Umphrey’s flair while remaining true to the original sound, the ambience was beautifully amplified by the surrounding venue.

Umphrey’s takes a short pause before diving into one of two true untzparties of the evening: Bad Friday. Bringing out Ali Baba’s Tahini drummer Steve Krojniewski (Krojo) to join Farag in perc-world, the band interweaving hints of Michael Jackson’s  “Wanna Be Starting Somethin’” into the driving dance number. The verse vocals flawlessly executed, the jam is adjourned for an extended drum breakdown. The energy rides high as the instruments glide back into the drums, Stastik’s bass was very funky as it walked across the fretboard while the guitars crescendo. This second set standout overshadows the rest of the tunes pre-encore.

The trailing Divisions, a longtime Umphrey’s classic which causes Umphreaks to instantly reminiscence is the open face of a strange sandwich. Highlighted by a driven, positive, energetic jam coming out of the first section, the first portion of Divisions plays on the songs tonal motifs while remaining on course. This fades as the band lingers into a dark stand alone guitar jam and makes its way to an uninspired Believe the Lie (with the now-standard intro). The turn in the tr Both tracks would have stood stronger as a stand alones and here the break in Divisions does little to add to its reprise. While Bayliss has been vocally immaculate in recent executions of Believe the Lie (4/25 for example), he fell flat on the difficult verses. The segue back into Divisions was beautifully done but the tune had lost
DSC_1205 some power during the transition between the tunes. The standard set ended with the reminder of how significant the communal soul embrace is to the Umphrey’s community. The encore break began with a short video in which Umphrey’s announced a four night New Year’s Eve run in Denver, delighting fans whose appetite was only whetted by the Red Rocks performance.

An encored Triple Wide did much to bounce back the semi-sloppy second set. The sonar sounding, bass led industrial dance jam did a nice job of tying in the many aspects of the evening. Heavy influences traces the tune as the song remained bounce based, Joel’s keys adding several synthy layers over a palm muted guitar. Timing is highlighted as the band gels wonderfully, each member ducking in and out of the song to add detail and depth. The night ends with the final portion of the previously unfinished Puppet.

While Umphrey’s had probed several spacey concepts the night before, the Red Rocks show was a much more schizophrenic: a darker, heavier feel ran throughout interrupted by consuming dance opportunities, the various contrasts within Umphrey’s music pronounced, highlighting guitar work foremost over the other instruments. This lack of flow inhibited the show from being Platinum quality, but the songs themselves are all masterfully executed in their own right. Track selection was scattered but there were few tunes to complain about, many tracks being tenebrous one offs from throughout the band’s tenure – truly a fan’s band with little sign of “selling out” for these sell outs.”

 

Umphrey’s Crushes 23rd Boulder Appearance

By Joshua Colky
Photography by Kristine Condon 

This past Thursday, Umphrey’s McGee hosted their 23rd Boulder show, drawing a huge crowd to the famed hippie mecca in the Colorado foothills. While the venue and seasonal hosts have varied, a precedent has been established that Red Rocks runs will include a Boulder date (save for 2010). The Boulder Theater, with so many previous classic performances and high caliber guest appearances, has become an obvious favorite for the fanbase. Tickets sold out instantly. Fans networked anxiously amongst their friends hoping for a spare extra. People offered their souls and first-born in online regional groups for the opportunity to ride the rail. The months of anticipation culminated into a large line along the façade of the venue, vibrancy palpable in the surrounding atmosphere as old and new friends embraced and engaged in animated obsession before the unopened doors. Once inside, Umphreaks sampled Nothing too Fancy Pale Ale awaiting the sextet’s entrance. The venue was surprisingly uncrowded in comparison to previous years making for an extremely enjoyable rageface environment with lots of room to dance no matter where you went. DSC_9785

Goonville, Umphrey’s weirdo freakchild of an intro tune stumbled onto the stage as the band emerged. Unique in its build, the tune goes from sounding delightfully discombobulated to a militaristic plodding unlike any of the other intro tunes. The sound quickly pivoted into rock-untz epic Wappy Sprayberry, which included a dance jam that was bass heavy and stripped down, where echoey drip-drop guitars and fat puddle bass drove a focused build back into the energetic song. Cemetery Walk 1 would follow, Bayliss’ voice sounding pristine as Jake tore into the first solo at the beginning of the tune but took the second one, near the end, a bit sloppier. Giving a shout out to manager extraordinaire Kevin Browning (who just had a son), the band dove into Piranhas, a lyric-heavy tune which debuted this past New Year. The song continues to improve but has yet to find its niche, piling through with little variation of sound or style throughout. The potential is obvious – the lyrics are amazing and the verse itself has a nice groove – but the song sticks to that groove until completion with not enough interesting divergence from the standard path.

1348 featured a dark dirty jam which played on the song’s standard elements before plunging into an organy heavy groove. Spiral staircase guitar licks eventually enveloped around the bass and keys, leading to the meat of the jam. Example 1 was loose in the best sort of way, bluesy guitar solos encapsulated by the gorgeous riddle lyrics. In The Black brought back the dark motif that ran through the set. A new song which Umphrey’s debuted at UMBowl, In The Black is a multiple-personality disorder jam, segments of the song sounding almost unrelated that somehow collapse into place. It is an intriguing and sounds reminiscent of Educated Guess got tipsy, where its intricate run along lyrics in the “if all you need is a little help…if not for me maybe someone else..” section.

A standard but beautiful Morning Song followed, leading towards set closer Cemetery Walk 2. The dance party tune leads to a mellow space groove in the middle where you can hear Andy Farag’s lightning fast percussion behind the deep submarine bass. Jake flicker fingers the final solos which crescendo in energy before the semi-dark set ends.

The second set seemed it would continue this heavy path by opening with Mantis. Left unfinished, the obvious sandwich seemed appropriately placed but the band did not dwell long enough to establish a jam, quickly transitioning into an upbeat and energetic Jajunk. One of the most focused, patient and thoughtful jams of the night, a fast bass joined aerial trapeze guitar flurries, Joel bringing a subtle happy sound to the keys that blended perfectly as the guitars ramp into overdrive. An engaging Women Wine and Song followed with pristine execution, earning praise for the extended rockytonk jam that trailed the final verse.

Educated Guess, the first Similar Skin song of the night, was flawless in the standard verse into chorus content. The song itself was impressively performed, the harmonies perfectly layered and the energy levels riding very high. The encapsulated jam shed some of that energy and became lost along the way. While the intentional looseness was taken maybe a step too far, the transition back into the last part of Educated Guess was fantastic. From here a masterful Blue Echo unfolds, the jam built of concentrated needlepoint guitar work that escalates to a distorted lumbering apex  where the drummers craft thunder before trailing into a Myer’s led Voodoo Lady. Umphrey’s really owns the track by DSC_9864extending and fleshing it out a bit and Kris’ voice is well suited for the song.

The final two songs in the set, Wife Soup and Hindsight  are bothl placed and wonderfully performed even without any improvisation or extended jamming. Hindsight’s fifth performance to date is great. Jake concentrates the inner rage the conjure the vocal demons required for this song and does so marvelously. An encore of the always fun finger fancy Fussy Dutchman, where guitars and pianos collide for a fireworks show in their own right, leads into the second half of Mantis, closing out the night.

There is no doubt that both the song selection and high quality jams made this an exemplary Boulder performance. The musical Mantis and heavy motif that ran through the jams in both sets was well broken up by the occasional dance heavy tune. Umphreaks left the Boulder Bubble with their appetites whetted for the day to come.

Good People, Bad Fridays: Umphreys and Widespread Panic

Umphrey’s McGee returns to the stage Friday, after nearly two weeks off, to open for jamband massives Widespread Panic. This marks the third time which Umphrey’s will be opening for Panic in some official capacity, two shows in Charleston (2013) and one in Columbus (2010) previously under their collective belts together. If previous shows set any precedent, interesting guest appearances and crossovers are certain to coalesce throughout the two night run, which travels from Jay, Vermont on Friday to Jones Beach in New York on Saturday.

07.13.2010 LIFESTYLE COMMUNITIES PAVILION, COLUMBUS, OH, USA
One Set: The Linear > Women Wine and Song, Search 4, End of the Road, Mullet (Over), All In Time > Wizard Burial Ground, Wife Soup > All In Time

Notes:
opened for Widespread Panic

During the initial meeting of the minds, Columbus, Ohio at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in 2010, Umphrey’s led with a fair set which ended stronger than it started – lengthy versions of AiT, Wizard and Wife Soup all fleshing out the end of the set (UMLIVE). Unlike the most recent WSP/UM shows, this concert was preceded with little fanfare, more a stop along the way post-All Good Festival. The only guest appearance arose when Joel Cummins joined Panic onstage for a rendition of Space Wrangler > New Mother Nature/No Sugar Tonight (which can be heard here).  

10.04.2013 FAMILY CIRCLE STADIUM, CHARLESTON, SC, USA
One Set: In The Kitchen, 40’s Theme, All In Time, Higgins[1], The Triple Wide > Hajimemashite

[1] with 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago) jam
Notes:
opened for Widespread Panic
with Bad Poker tease before All In Time

10.05.2013 FAMILY CIRCLE STADIUM, CHARLESTON, SC, USA
Set 1: Slacker, Conduit, The Linear > 1348[1], Booth Love[2], Ain’t No Sunshine[3], Puppet String

[1] with A Love Supreme (John Coltrane) and Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Michael Jackson) jams
[2] with Jake on keys; with There’s No Crying In Mexico tease
[3] with John Bell on vocals and guitar
Notes:
opened for Widespread Panic
last Ain’t No Sunshine 02.10.2011 (294 shows)

The 2013 run was drummed up quite a bit by comparison.  Both bands marketed the shows heavily and delivered outstanding performances in Charleston. An excellent rendition of Aint No Sunshine with John Bell during UM’s set foreshadowed the work that Jake, Joel and Farag would bring to versions of Maggot Brain and Red Hot Mama with Panic. 

What songs and sit-ins do you think they will have in store tomorrow night?

Kris Myers on the line up for Jen Hartswick Super Jam!

The 1up Colfax has had ties to the Umphrey's community since the barcade opened its stage in 2013. The full band has played an infamous Bill Graham show there over the NYE 2013 run (see: Epic "Blue Echo"). Cosby Sweater has hosted a handful of shows there with old man Joel Cummins. Now, Kris Myers will join an all star troop of musicians at the venue for what will certainly be a jazzy super jam of epic proportions. At the helm is Jen Hartswick, whose trumpet and gorgeous voice are featured in the Trey Anatasio Band, and who has also collaborated with UM several times on Bullhead City. They are joined by fellow TAB wind instrumentalists James Casey on saxaphone and Natalie Cressman on trombone, Lettuce's legendary guitarist Adam Smirnoff, jazz bass aficionado Dezron Douglas of the Black Lion crew, and versatile Steve Watkins, keyboardist for Allen Stone's band who has played with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to Donny Hathaway.

Denver is certainly getting a late summer unique treat that should not be missed by any Umphreak! Tickets go on sale Friday, June 6th at 10am MT.

Looking Back At: The Inaugural UMBowl (2010)

 

umbowl 2010

Ahhhh…2010. A year after the release of the epic opus Mantis, much of that spent on the road absolutely setting fire to every stage they’d come upon, Umphrey’s introduced us to a brand new concept: UMBowl. A concert beyond all concerts, both interactive and improvisational all at once, all boiled into four quarters of semi-organized musical insanity.

The venue? Lincoln Hall. Semi-new at the time, this adored and tiny venue was host to the original party. You can access the website to this day, located here. The intro video, the beginning of a now-annual tradition, is a bit different in tone than those in the years that follow. The band discusses their love for the fan base and genuine passion for their art – Jake showing off chest hair, Stasik in zebraprint robe. It is actually quite touching and in the end they finish with some nice video highlights overdubbed with the Monday Night Football music and you feel all amped up.

The inaugural UMBowl IS quite a bit different from the formats which followed in general. For example, Quarter 1 is an ALL ACOUSTIC request quarter, ballot voted. Quarter 3 on UMBowl 2010 is an electric-request set with weird audibles and, in years to follow, acoustic options fell into favor as opposed to an entire acoustic set. However, this one time they do it all unplugged is quite nice. The band loses power during the acoustic Front Porch opener but that stops nothing! The show goes on and a rare-at-the-time Weight Around makes an appearance, STP and Zepplin get jammed and the Divisions is nice.

Quarter 1: Front Porch[1], Hurt Bird Bath > Bron-Y-Aur Stomp[2] > Hurt Bird Bath > The Weight Around[3], Interstate Love Song > Divisions

[1] “Jimmy Stewart” with lyrics; Brendan, Jake, and Joel lost power
[2] debut, Led Zeppelin

The All Request set will be Quarter 2 in tonight’s UMBowl6.

Quarter Two features one of our favorite UMBowl Quarter motifs, the glorious S2, Stew Art Series. The process is described as follows from their webpage:

With a nod to the texting aspect of our successful Stew Art Series (S2), we now present the Second Quarter, Q2. Q2 will be entirely improvised and driven by bi-directional text communication. The band will huddle and come up with a category which will be texted to Umphrey’s own Offensive Coordinator Kevin Browning. He will put the category up on the scoreboard and the audience will be challenged to text their ideas for musical themes based specifically on that category. Kevin and his team will then sort and post chosen texts to the scoreboard for the band to use in constructing their improvs and planning their “plays.” As the improv progresses and the huddles continue, Kevin will update the scoreboard with new categories to keep the band marching down the field. Expect handoffs of musical ideas as the jams progress, deep grooves as the band find themselves in 3rd and long situations, audibles as new ideas arise at the line of scrimmage, and sacks as the band gets hit with challenging ideas. Can Umphrey’s keep Q2 turnover free?

Can they? Well, they certainly did. Intense sports metaphors aside, this quarter contained a ton of fun ideas, some of which were captured by the Youbtubes:

The Stew Art/S2 portion of UMBowl will be featured as Quarter 3 in UMBowl6 tonight.

Looking back at 2010 once more, quarter 3 is an electric request set with some weird audibles thrown in, described on their website as:

…the playlist for Q3 will be decided by you. All ticket buyers will receive a ballot to vote for what you’d like to see. And not just the songs themselves, but HOW they are played. Just a few potential thoughts: prefer your Padgett’s, The Haunt, and The Fuzz old school? Want to see Cemetery Walk performed backwards? Perhaps an instrument switch mid song? The return of Muff, or even the completion of the Muff trilogy? “Johnny Cash” Divisions? A disco version of The Bottom Half? You will be able to select from a variety of choices. And just to keep things REALLY interesting, we will have a “write-in” category where anything goes. As you know, we aim to please and love to surprise.

What we ended up getting was some rarities and twisted versions of tunes. The set was particularly Muff-y with Muff II: The Revenge and Muffburger Sandwich both appearing for the first time pre-2006. A fun dub version of Wife soup and the debut of Red Room Disco should be noted, alongside a cover debut of the Talking Heads’ Girlfriend is Better, which goes on to be an insane Jam vehicle throughout 2009 and 2010 (White Lawn State Park 2010, anybody?).

Quarter 3: Wife Soup[4], Muff II: The Revenge, All Things Ninja, Red Room Disco[3], Muffburger Sandwich, Der Bluten Kat[5] > Girlfriend is Better[6] -> Der Bluten Kat[7]

[4] “dub version”
[5] “funk version”
[6] debut, Talking Heads
[7] with Girlfriend Is Better teases

The forth quarter, which we have come to call Choose Your Own Adventure, was initially entitled something to the extent of “You Are the Quarterback”, and features fans leading the band down one path or another on their way through a set.

As an example, Intentions Clear begins, and four choices will be projected onto the screen:

ASegue into a cover
BTake the song into evil, minor key jam
CCompose on the fly a soaring, major key “Jimmy Stewart,” then return
to Intentions Clear

DZappa-esque jam into Bridgeless

This portion of the show has become a fan favorite, sharing the glory of collectively choosing a setlist alongside the band. Saying “yeah, A sounds cool, but C is fucking awesome” or something along those lines, becomes an epic debate among fans as we watch both at home at in venue.

Quarter 4: All In Time[8] -> Africa > Techno Jam > “Brendan & Jake switch rigs”, 1348[9] > Funk Jam -> 1348, Comfortably Numb

[8] unfinished
[9] with improv

Kevin Browning can be seen talking about the setup here in this video:

The Choose Your Own Adventure quarter will be the final quarter in UMBowl6 tonight.

Finally, it isn’t a good game unless you’re going into Overtime. The Land of the Wappy, a fun mashup, gets its second spin since Las Tortugas. We don’t have a version from UMBowl, but we do have the video from the Las Tortugas one so you can sorta get the feel for it:

Well, we hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane to the inaugural UMBowl back in 2010. You can stream the sixth sold out UMBowl TONIGHT, live from beautiful LAS VEGAS Nevada, thanks to the homies at TourGigs.

Umphreak’s Anonymous has Kangfirmed UMLive Android drops tomorrow! – Umphreak’s Editorial: Bring UMLive to Android!

UPDATE 11/9/2015 IS IT HAPPENING?!

9:31pm Umphreak’s Anonymous has Kangfirmed UMLive Android drops tomorrow!

Original Article

By Joshua Colky In September of 2013, Umphrey’s McGee unleashed unto the world the UMLive Streaming Service and it was glorious to all who could behold it…those who were iPhone users. Truly, our initial review of the desktop service showed that it had its fair share of bugs and problems: the interface was clunky, the Queue feature did not work properly and was not intuitive, the social function did not work correctly.  A year and a half later, some of that has been improved on while other pieces remain exactly the same – you can now “Click the Rhino” to get back to the UMLive homepage, but the Social features and Queue have not been altered whatsoever since inception, but our major gripe has been, and still remains, that UMLive does not offer any support for Android whatsoever. No mobile web access through your browser, no native Android application in the Google Play store. Robot World remains in ruins! Yesterday we were reminded of this painful fact when we could not access the brand new Raw Stewage 2015 without either buying it outright off the site (for the cost of a subscription) or subscribe to UMLive’s streaming service, which we cannot access on our phones. It was quite the conundrum and that is one of the reasons we have no Raw Stewage review for you this morning. While Umphrey’s has almost always been in tune with the needs of their fanbase and simultaneously making smart business decisions, this one has us scratching our heads. Almost everything that Umphrey’s does is of the highest caliber, vetted to the point of maximum satisfaction, yet this tool has slipped through the cracks. For UMLive to be a success, it is going to need some reconfiguration, starting with offering Android support. umlive 2014 survey In response to our 2014 Year in Review Survey, over 200 people (35% of our respondents) indicated that they would sign up for the UMLive Streaming Service if the bugs were fixed and Android support made available. If those 200 people sign up for atleast a month of UMLive, we’d be looking at $2000 increased income for the service, and that’s just based on our respondents. Think of the investment for the future! Right now, half of the   United States smartphone population are Robot World members, with the other half (w)Appley Sprayberry (both fight for US dominance, but it’s close to neck and neck). Worldwide, Android far outpaces Apple in ownership. Many applications launch on iOS, the bugs are removed and the issues regarding fragmentation resolved, and then it is ported over to Android, and Android users are used to this.  18 months, however, is a very long period of time, and that’s over $180 they could have gotten from this user alone in the past year if they offered Android support. For anyone watching their Google Analytics, we know that mobile users make up a HUGE portion of the spectrum when it comes to online presence. This type of move would ALSO help prevent the rampant piracy of live shows that exists online currently, allowing more individuals to hear the offerings without stealing them from the band they love. This seems like it should be easy money, so what’s up?

According to this tweet from Joel, the cost to develop the app is currently unreasonable, but we just think they haven’t found an Umphreaky developer yet willing to take on the work for an affordable rate and to better the cause of his/her fellow man/woman. When UMLive launched in 2013, Android still had a terrible developer studio and we believe this may be why Android was initially overlooked. However, in the past two years, Androids development enviroment has been replaced with the magnificent Android Studio. Problems that arose due to fragmentation and security among Android devices have been minimized. We believe a rageface Umphreak could do this for the band at a reasonable rate and help out others in their community. Think of it: possibly hundreds of new Umphreaks being able to access the service that allows unlimited access to UM’s entire SBD catalog post 2005, all from the glory of any mobile device. To this effect, they could even reasonably go with a “Mobile Responsive” website (like the awesome mobile version of Allthings.Umphreys), allowing anyone to be able to use the tool from their mobile web browser with ease while stroking the fires of this addiction.  All we want is to be able to blast shows from Jam in The Dam 2006 through our mobile phones while cruising down the highway, is that so much to ask?

Until then, we’ll have to settle for purchasing Raw Stewage 2015, though we’d rather just give Umphrey’s the same amount of money monthly and romp around their large collection, reliving the moments we have shared together limitless. Lets hope the future has something brighter for the Robot owners out there.

Show Umphrey’s your interest in UMLive coming to Android by signing this petition – if the band is aware of the demand, they may feel the development costs are more worth the undertaking! Show them how it will be an investment in the future by telling them “I would sign up for UMLive if it comes to Android!” https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/bring-umlive-to-android