Words By: Pietro C. Truba
Umphrey's McGee :: 04.06.07 & 04.07.07 :: The Murat :: Indianapolis, IN
Umphrey's McGee returned to the Murat Egyptian Room for a two-night run that was taped for their next live album. These nights found six musicians beautifully in sync with their fans, whose enthusiastic chanting will most likely add a humorous backdrop to the stellar musicianship on this future release.
Umphrey's McGee by Dave Vann
There was a fair amount of blistering solos from guitarists Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss ("40s Theme") over the two nights, as well a fine showcase for drummer Kris Myers ("Liquid" > "Jimmy Stewart"). These nights had a special feel to them, and you could see the whole band work together to project one voice. No matter what songs make their way onto the live release, the content will exemplify Umphrey's current style.
The jams on "Hurt Bird Bath," "In The Kitchen" and "Jajunk" highlight the many styles Umphrey's McGee has explored the past few years on their way to creating something new. The middle section of "In The Kitchen" slowly transformed Bayliss and Cinninger's acoustics, intertwining them gracefully with keyboardist Joel Cummins' baby grand. The entire band skillfully navigated through a blissful jam until Myers started driving them back to the verse. Bayliss and Cinninger switched back to electrics, and Cummins' twinkling piano underscored Bayliss' singing with echoing notes. Recently, Umphrey's has been employing this style more often, bringing the verses smoothly out of the jams or starting the verse over the improvised section for a few bars before the instrumental part comes back in.
"Ringo" > "Hajimemashite" > "Ringo" proved reason enough to look forward to a second listen to these shows. Bayliss' voice was at its finest in this vocally challenging sequence that made for a great, seamless first night set closer. "Hurt Bird Bath" provided one of the best moments of the two nights that can only be described as everything live music is supposed to be. At the pinnacle, Myers entire kit seemed to pulse as everyone else clicked in and pulled the jam together, culminating with Cinninger's solo topping but not overpowering the danceable tune.
Jake Cinninger by Chris Monson
Variety is the spice of life for Umphrey's and it makes their improvisational "Jimmy Stewarts" unique every time. The dynamic interplay between Bayliss and Cinninger is always a force to be reckoned with but during "40s Theme" it was the smooth handoff of transitioning solos, Bayliss' flowing style reached a plateau before letting Cinninger sprint to the top.
Before the encore, Umphrey's took a jab at themselves, coming out with a few handwritten signs. "This" "Album" "Sucks" and "Boo." After some crowd chanting and a few laughs, "Mulche's Odyssey" capped the two-night run.
This live album will set a benchmark for Umphrey's McGee. Not necessarily better or worse than anything to date, it's a snapshot of what they're capable of now and a preview of their overwhelming potential tomorrow. Umphrey's McGee are the band to watch, but not because of what they've done but because of what they yet to do.
Set One: Push the Pig > "Jimmy Stewart"* > Push the Pig > Out of Order, Nothing Too Fancy > The Fuzz > Nothing Too Fancy, Plunger
Set Two: In the Kitchen@, Miss Tinkle's Overture, Believe the Lie, Get In the Van, Roulette, Ringo -> Hajimemashite > Ringo
Encore: Partyin' Peeps
* with lyrics
@ with Brendan and Jake on acoustics for part of the song
Set One: Atmosfarag, Liquid > "Jimmy Stewart" > White Man's Moccasins, Hurt Bird Bath, Higgins, Padgett's Profile
Set Two: Ocean Billy, 40's Theme > The Triple Wide > Alex's House, JaJunk, Eat, Bridgeless
Encore: Mulche's Odyssey
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