Our big #1 is upon us with a trip to Cincinnati. Umphrey’s celebrated America’s birthday in style, after a few years in Colorado, in Cincinnati. What happened here was an absolute beauty of a show. We’ll do our best to describe it, but you’re doing your self an injustice by not picking this up.
Jekyll & Hyde
Drew – This has crept into being my #1 JO intro. Not much to say since it is what it is, but this is truly a perfect way to start a show… haunting->explosive with a side order of arrow directly into Mulche’s.
Rob: J&H will always bring about great memories from New Year’s in St. Louis, so naturally I had to take the time to put on the KaBump>Divisions from said run before diving into this show. Nonetheless, here we go.
Drew -Mulche’s is one of those songs that if it were a person, it’d be leaning against a seedy bar with a toothpick in its mouth flipping a coin because you have zero idea of what is about to happen when you run into it. The line Pony lays down early in the stew is worth the price of admission alone, and everything else being added on top is basically bonus points. I’d like to call into question whoever thought Andy ‘Xanadu’ Farag does nothing…. Take a peak at the first ‘near-peak’ of the stew prior to the guitar only drop out. He is octopus’ing the hell out of his rig.
Rob: Just hold me down and punch me in the face, why don’t ya? This Mulche’s is relentless. Even Usain Bolt thought this jam was fast. My favorite type of jam is when the peaks seem to plateau one another, constantly building to the next section, and this was one of those times. Kris, Andy, and Ryan are working hard to keep this thing afloat while Jake, Brendan and Joel exchange licks like rapid fire. In the Cincinnati heat, this certainly got things even hotter to start off America’s birthday. Our Founding Fathers would’ve been proud. I like how the fire right into the outro too, no messing around.
Drew – A splendid choice to follow a heater Mulche’s. And I’ll be perfectly honest here, I’ve listened to this Sociable a handful of times, have been completely lost in the moment with where they are taking it (Signs of a well worked jam/stew). I’d classify it almost as sewer jamming. It has the dingy, dark vibe, with hints of being in the under ground levels of Super Mario.
Rob: Very Joel-heavy for most of this jam, as they play around with it for a little while before settling into a nice groove at the end. It gets very dark, like Phish 2.0 dark, in some of those middle sections. I don’t know if that was due to some heat exhaustion or just not knowing where exactly to take the jam. Regardless, this was a nice contrast to the opening romp that was Mulche’s.
Drew – Probably going to need some prescription eyewear if you didn’t see a GA coming on the Fourth. However, it leads to yet another return of the 12/30/11 Plunger Stew, which is always welcome (Get it here, or listen here). Post stew, falls back into the GA ending with heavy drums percussion back and forth.
Rob: Great American on July 4th is The Official Umphrey’s McGee Guarantee. You just expect it. Sort of like the way you expect every Tyler Perry movie to be terrible. Regardless, this is a fantastic version and as Drew said a revisit to the 12/30/11 Plunger. I mentioned St. Louis memories, and it seems like the band was on the same page.
Drew – I love this Moog heavy prelude. I love The Floor. I love making paper snowflakes with scissors and construction paper. Pretty standard version of The Floor, but it’s designed to give you goosebumps with not much room for heavy table turning improv.
Rob: I’ve noticed two songs, The Floor and Haji, start to get a bit of treatment as far as extending intros/outros are concerned. This version of The Floor keeps that idea alive as they mess with a little 90-second Moog prelude that leads into the tune. The placement of The Floor can make it even more raucous, and this was one of those times. Following a nice GA, Cincy heated up again with The Floor.
Syncopated Strangers>White Pickle>Syncopated Strangers
Drew – I’ll differ this to Rob, but this is up there with Mulche’s, and the yet to be mentioned Bright Lights, but this perfect. I know there has been some discussion about whether Den was played with (in?) White Pickle, but I’m going with no. I’d argue more for White Pickle with Den teases.
Rob: The gem of the show, really. A brilliant construction of one of the Raw Stewage selections within Syncopated Strangers. Everyone is firing on all cylinders, particularly Joel who paces the White Pickle (Den?) segment very nicely. He lays down such a solid foundation for the jam to grow, and then lets Brendan and Jake step out to the forefront and build on it. To be honest, I could talk forever about this 16 minute performance, but I won’t, I’ll let you listen for yourself. Just be ready to not be able to sit still during any of it. The ending to Syncopated contains some of the most heartfelt and honest lyrics from Mr. Bayliss, making it one of my favorite returns they have.
Black Sabbath>War Pigs
Drew – Here’s where the fun begins… I thought the execution on this was perfect. The drone built by BB, Jake, and Pony sets the tone for Myers to take control and drive the boat into a perfect meld of the band and horns (vocal melody) attacking Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. This set up a nice ‘had to be there moment’ with…
Rob: This is the part of the show I was fairly skeptical about, but it translated very well. If I was there, I wouldn’t have quite understood what was going on at first but it soon makes sense as Stasik introduces some friends on the balcony above…
Band Vs. Horns
Drew – … A Umphrey’s Vs. Horn section cover war. horns kick off with DJ Kool’s Let Me Clear My Throat before CHALLENGE is called. The full band fires into a brief segment of Zeppelin’s The Ocean. Challenge is called by the horns providing an intro to probably the funniest bullet fired in this battle: Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. [Insert laugh track] “That’s your challenge? Must have been how you were raised.” says Bayliss before they kick into a very brief section of Iron Maiden’s The Trooper. The battle of the bands is finished out with the horns firing off Sugarhill Gang’s Apache/Jump on it, and Umphrey’s teeing up my favorite of the segment, Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher. Like I said, this is a brilliant had to be there moment that really holds up well on tape.
Rob: Hot Tip: When in a musical challenge, never pull out Lady Gaga. Correction- never pull out Lady Gaga when the other band can counter with Iron Fucking Maiden. You lose that battle 12 times out of 10. The Jump On It segment was cool. I did my best Fresh Prince of Bel-Air dancing to that one, and then Umphrey’s broke out Hot For Teacher and I just started breaking things. The dust clears, and the horns are left playing Andy’s Last Beer, which of course triggers….
Andy’s Last Beer
Drew – The horns fired off one last round queuing up the intro to ALB before the band comes in with the proper intro into the song. This ALB is an extremely tight version, and a Bayliss solo of this caliber is always welcome in my book.
Rob: You guessed it. I’m not a huge fan of this tune, but this version brought out some serious heat. Brendan Bayliss led a nice section to a really crazy peak, stopping almost on a dime to end a very complete, very well constructed Umphrey’s set on America’s birthday.
Flamethrower>Bright Lights, Big City
Drew - Easily this 1-2 combo has potential to be a huge segment in the future, and I really don’t even know how best to describe the Bright Lights. I can’t even put into words how well Bright Lights has been built into one of the fiercer jam vehicles in their arsenal. If you’re a fan of things that make you flip heavy objects (see: desks, cars, uncles), just go listen to it.
Rob: The second set really picks up where the first left off with this opening pair. The frantic energy mixed in with moments of true psychedelic experimentation is a perfect formula for a great Bright Lights jam, making this a perfect opening selection. You can pick up on the recording how well they’re all listening to each other, particularly the two guitars, and pacing the jam throughout. If you like really solid, well-constructed jams, then this one is for you.
Plunger>Go to Hell>Plunger
Drew - Another segment that was brilliantly planned. The segue directly into Go to Hell moves extremely quick, and I love that about it. The tiny downfall of this whole segment is it almost sounds like the band forgot to jump back into Plunger after G2H. Everyone can thank Jake’s interlude with the castanet master, Farag, guiding them back to the end of Plunger.
Rob: Much like Synco>White Pickle>Synco, this is another well-thought-out and well-executed journey. The instrumental Go To Hell really fits in nicely between Plunger, and the band moves through the three complex pieces with relative ease. If I could change one thing, I would eliminate the pause after Go To Hell to truly make it a >, but I’ll live either way.
Drew - Bringing the staccato funk to a stage near you. Easily, this is the moment Stasik stole the spotlight of the show. Brilliantly complex bass lines with plenty of space for the jam to not feel overly cluttered just for the sake of playing to play. This is Jamming with a Purpose 101 right here.
Rob: Dirty, nasty, filthy funk. The amount of space and air in this groove while still being tight as ever, is absurd. Stasik drives the boat on this one again along with Kris, making a nice pocket for the rest of the band to operate within. The Day/Night Nurse thing has become a big deal for them, and this is another example why- it works.
Gin & Juice
Drew - Welcome G. Love to the stage for Gin & Juice. G. Love takes over the Snoop (Now, Snoop Lion if you have been living under a rock) parts with BB knocking the Dre parts out. Beyond fun with G. Love dropping some harmonica in the brief intro.
Rob: G. Love enters for this classic Umphrey’s cover and delivers a solid performance. G. Love on the Snoop, Bayliss on the Dre, and Joel Gold Cummins on the Moog bringing the Gin and The Juice to the party. Enjoy it.
Drew - I personally believe that Bayliss is hitting/has been hitting a proper stride in his vocals in the past few years, and what better way to show off your ever growing vocal range with the first half of Ocean Billy? He is oozing confidence throughout the composed portion of the first section of OB, and once he’s done is drifts off to Jake to begin the movement toward…
Rob: Night Nurse>Gin & Juice was fun, but now it’s time to get down to business. The tone turns dark in a hurry with this Ocean Billy, and the build is just downright evil. No improv, but a nice intro to what was to come.
Drew - …the one song that will almost certainly have you taking clothes off. Before the main jam kicks into high gear, I think Bayliss became possessed to dole out another gift: a second Bayliss solo. Combine that with a bowl full of Baker Street teases (Am I the only one that thinks this should be covered immediately?), and you have about 16 ounces of undiluted sex in song form.
Rob: I can’t remember the last Bayliss solo in a Booth Love, but this was just beautiful. The Baker St teases were perfectly placed, and the way the band adapted to it and sort of leant on it as the cue to resolve the last section was brilliant. A nice, 11-minute version, leaves the crowd nice and cool for the closing segment.
Pay The Snucka>Ocean Billy
Drew – Snucka 1 & 2 to be precise (or you’d have figured that out most likely if you scrolled to far down, and I now will dub you a cheater, you cheater). TONS of Stasik action in this: fills, runs, you name it. Toward the end of Snucka II, Jake begins a rapid solo that queues the beginning of Billy. The jump back to Billy is a lot of fun. Very patient, specifically with the accompaniment from Kris providing a military like snare theme to back the main OB riff.
Rob: Buckle up, Snuckas. The interesting part comes on the return to Ocean Billy, where Jake just grabs control of the entire room and throttles it into the end of Ocean Billy. Bayliss is so powerful at the end. Very emotional.
Let’s Dance>Pay The Snucka
Drew – Bowie’s classic making it’s 4th appearance is a welcome friend in this party, especially in the encore. Jake slays the vocals on this, and when it’s combined with a horn section… grab your socks, and hold on. The end of Let’s Dance is an enormous ball of everyone soloing , and it works. I don’t know how, but it does. The lounge interlude before Snucka III is a nice yin and yang, what-the-hell moment, closes the show with many people leaving the floor with black eyes. Hell of a show, and our favorite from the summer, easily.
Rob: More St. Louis memories! Let’s Dance was so much fun out of midnight, and was very fun in this slot as well as the crowd was just ready to dance and party at this point. More G. Love, and then Snucka rage at the end to close out America’s birthday, and the best show of the tour. God Bless America.
Do yourself a solid, and go buy this show right away. (Click me.)
Jekyll & Hyde > Mulche’s Odyssey, Sociable Jimmy, Great American, The Floor, Syncopated Strangers > White Pickle > Den > Syncopated Strangers > Black Sabbath > War Pigs^ > Jam^$ > Andy’s Last Beer
Flamethrower > Bright Lights Big City, Plunger > Go to Hell > Plunger, Night Nurse, Gin & Juice^^, Ocean Billy > Booth Love*, Pay the Snucka > Ocean Billy
Lets Dance^^ > Pay the Snucka
G. Love & Special Sauce opened
^ with Cincinnati Brass, performing from the balcony
$ Band vs. Horns cover challenge: Let Me Clear My Throat (DJ Kool; horns) > The Ocean (Led Zeppelin; band) > Bad Romance (Lady Gaga; horns) > The Trooper (Iron Maiden; band) > Apache / Jump On It (The Sugarhill Gang; horns) > Hot For Teacher (Van Halen; band) > Andys Last Beer (intro; horns)
^^ with G. Love on vocals
* with Baker Street (Gerry Rafferty) teases