After parties, much like the parties themselves tend to raise the bar for fun and excitement as a whole.
The North Coast Music Festival was one of the last parties of the summer, and once I heard that
Umphrey’s McGee was going to play the Congress Theatre for an after party, I knew I could not miss it.
The song selection was very impressive; they segued some of their new concert favorites with classics.
“Let’s get this party started shall we?” I got there early enough to see about 3 songs of Team Bayside
High. Though they do have a creative name, the music did not do it for me.
Finally the show started; the blue lights went up, band walks on stage and the feedback ensued. The
moogish intro to “The Floor” was top notch, noted with presidential candidate, Andy Farag’s percussion
and the keyboard wizard, as well as presidential candidate Joel Cummins, on piano. It set the stage for
the cerebral song “The Floor.” The bass line was tight, vocals were on and the guitar fills were brilliant.
As Brendan Bayliss’ vocals and lyrics got into everyone’s head and the rest of the band fueled the music
to fill everyone’s soul the song ended.
“Chicago, we’re gonna get sweaty & funky and we’re gonna make it hurt tomorrow”
There was a quick moment of silence and the groovalicious bass line of “Wappy Sprayberry” started.
The lyrics about infatuation and desire got the crowd moving “…and who could deny that pull”. The
Congress audience definitely could not deny that song’s pull.
The intro of the song before the lyrics began was pretty heavily distorted coming from both guitars. The
jam started having a grunge glow with a sludgy tint. Lights were going pretty nuts surrounding the entire
stage as well as the audience. The song had another change up into an organ-led jam. As the jam came to
a build up lead guitarist Jake Cinninger let loose on a solo capitalizing on the musicians behind him. They
returned back t into a broken down version of theme before diving head first back into the song.
The pull of “Wappy Sprayberry” pushed the audience into “Wife Soup.” The giant rock ballad was
uniquely place in the setlist. Instead of taking a break before playing it, they chose to throw it right
into our faces. Everyone sounded on. The Beatles-esque riff mid song gave the listeners hope and lead
into an always creative Cinniger solo that can sometimes stop you from raging & lose your mind in
amazement. The slow part of the song really showed how great communicators they are. Lighting director
Jefferson Waful used the empty space within the song just as well as the band did.
George Harrison would have been impressed with the intro having some Middle Eastern-like soloing.
Soon after, the opening notes of “Resolution” started. I looked around and saw that most of the audience
was singing the Karl Englemen penned song word-for-word. “I’ve got it set in my mind….I’ll be a
mountain in the sky this year….”
Fists were in the air when the chorus hit “I see the road and it headed toward the solution…it seems.” A
very calculated ever changing landscape ensued, from the lights to the music. The first jam had hints of
dark jazz guitar licks over a Fender Rhodes. Then they switched into an ethnic mariachi-themed jam,
with tumbling drums and then it flip flopped to an Ali Demola solo reminiscent of the Return To Forever
song “Earth Juice.”
The second batch of improv was lead by bassist Ryan Stasik. A start/ stop jam with a moog overlapping
solo. Staying with the trance vibe there was a lot of delay duels between Cummins and Cinninger. It was
pretty cool. Though it did not keep my attention, the rest of the crowd loved it. Then it became more
metal-sounding and then evolved into a more mystical, ambient feel.
The rest of the band dissolved as Cinninger continued to play. After some other worldly guitar work he
made his way to the intro of “Booth Love.” The mood quickly changed from a chaotic noisy sound to a
soulful sensation. Smiles from ear to ear grazed the audience. It felt like the band and audience were on
the same level. The energy was really high and neither Cinninger nor drummer Kris Myers could contain
*There were no known reports of anyone making ‘balcony/ beach love’ to this song like in a
previous show a few years ago.*
It was a fantastic, very groovy jam. Jake and Bayliss mimicked each other sending the vibes of a
funk theme throughout the crowd. A slight pause left Myers’ in charge for a while as he changed the
landscape. This changed up the jam up transition from a more spacey to experimental jam.
“We’ve played a lot of rooms in Chicago and we’ve never played this one. So thanks for letting us scratch
this off the list” -Bredan Bayliss
Up next was Comma Later-a song that actually had its debut at this year’s UMBowl. This very
progressive, R&B type number was arranged like a Steely Dan ‘The Royal Scam’ tune. Cinninger
crushed the vocals as well as the dynamite solos in each part of this muti-sectional song.
With a little hesitation Bayliss strummed the opening riff to “Hangover.” A pretty standard “Hangover,”
everyone enjoyed it. The crowd was loud and pumped for the ‘Break out the Booty wax’ part. Kris
Myers’ vocal definitely helped lead the grind ring and swayed all the way through The Congress while
Joel is killed it on light piano. The rest of the band came back in to the Joel-led jam ultimately leading
back into the end of “Hangover.”
Most jam bands bring the heat second set. Umphreys brought it early with “Booth Love.” After a 15
minute break the band walked back on stage.
“Pay the Snucka” opened with almost a “Day Nurse” sounding snyth intro. Joel played the Juno and then moved to Moog. There was a standard segue into “The Triple Wide.” A trance-sounding jam but had more layered musical nuggets.
This trance-like jam is made suspicious yet still moved. There was a lot stuff going on in the 3 rd section of the jam. They slowed it down and transitioned to “The Plot Thickens” which is off the remix album Death By Remix.
“How you guys holding up out there?”
The “Deeper” remix with the Palmer Squares flowed over the re arranged version of the song. It was nice to see a little change- up, but that is why we love Umphrey’s. Although it was not my cup of tea, it was very entertaining nonetheless.
Next up was “In the Kitchen” and was perfectly placed. When Cinninger strummed the opening chords,
the crowd charged up. Bayliss noted that he will soon be feeling hungover tomorrow. The jam stayed
on one riff but passed the music around. The musical method ensued to the madness. A brief tease of
Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” jam arose, and then they went back into the face melting. The
band went back into the final verse of the chorus and Joel Cummins was reminded once again that he is
My favorite part of the show was the next musical sandwich. It involved the song “Conduit” with the
beautiful “Hajimemashite” in between. Bayliss has said before that “Conduit” is the idea about how
much you give of yourself when writing a song.
“Recovered through…though you always knew that it was there…but you withdrew.”
The idea of sharing something with someone so delicate and so close to you leads into an idea of giving
away a part of yourself at the same time. This song has probably been written, re-written, arranged,
re-arranged, tweaked and re-tweaked so many times in order to get it sounding perfect. Then there is
Hajimemashite as much of a bare-boned signature Umphrey’s McGee song that you can get.
**side note: check out the Songs For Older Women version. My favorite version hands down.
The drums started as the guitars filled the spaces with a hypnotic “Conduit” riff. As the jam progressed,
the song broke down into dark distorted riff and then into a locked-in groove. It seemed as though
they were hinting something that is going to stew. Under the dark riff there was a subtle transition
and Brendan Bayliss played the opening notes to “Hajimemashite.” When audience members heard
the familiar notes, there was a brief moment of silence. A whole group nod was amongst the crowd.
Some people sang along while other people were in awe. Everyone tried to make the moment last. The
whole band gave it their all. The song built up into a heartfelt Cinninger solo. Between the solo and the
emotional tone in which Bayliss let out, the audience was blown away. Due to the river of emotions set
up they were sure they could take everyone back to the moment in an intelligent way. Jake made the solo
really technical in order to keep the audience assured by not forcing the audience into it, but by guiding
‘Tightly wound… souls were bound…as it was once before.’
The segue back into “Conduit” left most of the audience in shock. The band, as well as the audience,
needed a break and needed to think and establish political positions. Bayliss quoted Joel, though he is
voting for Farag by saying, “You guys are awesome!”
**Side note: I’m voting for Farag.
Next up is was the cover of Toto’s “Rosanna.” It was a shout out to Corey. Rosanna was done straight through without any lyric altering by Brendan Bayliss. The emotion was high in the room at this point. The crowd sang line for line of this epic Toto song. Cummins’ tickled the ivories and made a hell of an outro segue into face melter “Hurt Bird Bath.”
After a little bit of a drum/ percussion throw down, Umphrey’s soon made their way into “Hurt Bird
Bath.” Memorized riffs threw the audience even deeper into the music. I have always been a fan of the
lyrics “a struggle to stand and afraid if you try…bleeding and pleading to change what you can.” The
great part about it is that they are always changing the theme of song. This particular one was rather
minor and became chaotic at parts, while at other parts it simmered down. This jam in particular made
the listener wonder how they are going to make it back from where they started. Each of the members
added a new part to the song and took it into a different direction.
The drums/ percussion started “When the World Is Running down, You Make the Best of What’s Still
Around,” a cover from the Police. Though they are no stranger to covering this song, this particular
version was spot on. Half of the audience did not know what hit them. The band kept with the dark theme
from “Hurt Bird Bath” and then went to the uplifting solos and back into the verses. As the song came to
a slow point, the band left guitarist Jake Cinninger to put the final touches on a great musical journey we
all had the pleasure to experience. The song was a huge solo and face melting experience, but was not
done. There were a few more treats in store.
The solo continued and lead into “Pay the Snucka” part III whichwas a very ‘heady’ metal-infused
gargantuan way to end the show. They even mixed the chorus of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls
on Parade” and kept the energy going until the show finally ended. Smiles from ear-to-ear could be seen
from the audience members. Umphreys rocked the Congress! Though there were some jams that I did
not understand, overall the show was really fun and had quite a lot of emotion at times.
…..The more you know