Milwaukee is certainly an “OG” Umphrey’s city. The band has played in Brew Town 30 times, dating all the way back to 1998. Having covered 11 different venues including everything from Rock Bottom Brewery to Eagles Ballroom to the annual Summerfest Music Festival, Milwaukee was and still is an integral part in the Umphrey’s McGee world, which makes this upcoming Halloween weekend all the more special. That said, let’s take a look back at the venues, the music, and the moments that made UM and Milwaukee the two best friends that anyone could have.
This picturesque Milwaukee venue has been home to five Umphrey’s McGee shows, the last coming shortly after the Atlanta Halloween run in 2011, on November 5th, 2011. The 4,000 person venue has been a mainstay for UM in Milwaukee since 2006, with small record store performances and Summerfest appearances marking the only other Milwaukee shows outside of Eagles Ballroom.
Prior to moving up to The Eagles Ballroom, Umphrey’s called The Rave home six different times from 2001-2005. The intimate, sometimes sweaty 1700-person venue served as the launching point for UM’s popularity in the Milwaukee area, and is home to some of their most notable performances, but more on that later!
The mainstay from 2000-2004 was in fact, Shank Hall, the 300-person venue that is now known as a local small comedy club. Shank Hall housed UM six different times, three of those coming in 2000. As far as song debuts and moments in Umphrey’s McGee history go, Shank Hall is as storied as they come. A hollowed ground that was home to the debuts of “Water” and “Andy’s Last Beer” will forever live in the annals of Umphrey’s McGee.
The site of the very first Umphrey’s show in Milwaukee. Taking place on 9/11/98, the band played the small local brewery and debuted “Muff II: The Revenge” to open the second set. The encore of “Bob” also featured teases of what would become “Hangover” later on.
Having since been shut down in 2004, the bar and club played host to the band in 1999 for a one set show featuring Peter Tosh’s “You Can’t Blame the Youth” and a cover of Guns N’ Roses “Patience” combined with all the current UM classics.
When you play a city consistently for 15 years, there are bound to be some notable musical moments that every Umphrey’s nerd can appreciate. That said, let’s take a look at song debuts and bustouts that have taken place in Milwaukee.
“Muff II: The Revenge”
Something about Umphrey’s McGee’s first time in Milwaukee brought about the idea that “Muffburger Sandwich” needed a sequel. And on 9/11/98, “Muff II: The Revenge” was born. The song would only stay in rotation for a couple of years, before falling out of favor in 2002, only to return in 2010 for it’s, well, revenge.
“Andy’s Last Beer”
Shank Hall was the birth home of ALB in 2000, and one of Umphrey’s most recurring song. 12 years and 292 plays later, “Andy’s Last Beer” ranks 14th on UM’s most played list, and has always been one of the most consistent songs in the catalog.
Shank Hall births yet another Umphrey’s classic, this time in December of 2000 as “Water” is introduced to the world towards the end of the first set. The Local Band Does O.K. song would have a consistent presence in setlists as the years moved on, particularly in 2005 where it garnered it’s most plays. Now, the tune is somewhat of a rarity, but peaks it’s head out enough to satisfy the hardcore UM fan.
During the encore of Umphrey’s first show in Milwaukee, they teased “Hangover” during “Bob” before closing the show. The next night at Linneman’s River West Inn, the Booty Wax was broken out for the first time in full, and the classic Umphrey’s live staple was born.
Presently known as the instrumental “Go To Hell,” this song first made an appearance on 10/3/2009 as the song “Cold Smoke.” Complete with lyrics at the time, “Cold Smoke” would only be seen six times on the 2009 Fall Tour before dropping out of favor. The music reappeared in 2011 as “Go To Hell” and has stayed that way ever since.
“Dough Bro” LTP 5/27/04
Not only was “Dough Bro” a bustout at the time, but it was also the very last time the song was played. Then again, that happens with a song that has only been played twice. For those of you unfamiliar with “Dough Bro,” take a listen to the debut of the song from 11/1/2002.
“Late in the Evening”
The classic Paul Simon tune was busted out at, you guessed it, Shank Hall, in 2004 after almost 3 years on the bench. It would only be played two more times after that until it’s most recent play during the encore of the New Year’s Eve show in St. Louis in 2011. Yet another notch on Shank Hall’s belt.
Everyone loves “Mamu,” but it doesn’t get much time in the spotlight. After maintaining a consistent spot in the rotation in the early-2000′s, “Mamu” disappeared for almost six years, before returning at Eagles Ballroom in 2008. Sandwiched in between “Syncopated Strangers,” the rarity delighted fans everywhere. Check out the wizard, Mr. Joel Cummins, teasing some Mamu at the end of this clip from December 2010.
And THAT is Umphrey’s and Milwaukee in a nutshell. A large nutshell, but nonetheless. Get ready to write some new history in just eight days at The Riverside Theater.