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.

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