Black Crowes & UM | 07.06 | Chicago

Words by: Jessica Lopa :: Images by: Adam McCullough

The Black Crowes & Umphrey's McGee
07.06.07 :: Petrillo Music Shell :: Chicago, IL

Jake Cinninger - UM :: 07.06 :: Chicago
Taste of Chicago played host to one of this summer's most lively, fan friendly concerts. Food and music enthusiasts gathered in droves to lend an ear to Chicago-based progressive jam-rockers, Umphrey's McGee and longtime designated soul rockers The Black Crowes.

Opening with a 45-minute power set, Umphrey's McGee set the bar high with lip curling, brow raising guitar and bass runs, spanning every musical style from heavy metal to ska to jazz. Guitarist-vocalist Brendan Bayliss threw "Wallets Worth" into a fast, high pitched groove within the opening bars, dissipating the notion of what a planned climatic moment usually entails, sending first time listeners for a loop. Although surprised by UM's immediacy, I was definitely left with the notion these guys have done their share of listening to early progressive rock bands, all the way from Dream Theater to Metallica.

Brendan Bayliss - UM :: 07.06
Umphrey's McGee's showed they can explore the opposite side of the music spectrum as well. Four minutes into their first piece, an unforeseen and not so subtle segue into a ballad-like piano solo occurred. The established heavy metal mood was instantly transformed by this striking contrast in style and tempo. It turns out the incongruent segue was the introduction to an improvisation titled, "Jimmy Stewart," a name taken from the hall in which their jam sessions first occurred. Opening the space with a slow groove, the band introduced ideas, defining space with percussionist Andy Farag, communicating to slowly progress and lead back into the heavy "Wallets Worth."

Their setlist was characterized by meticulous playing and numerous improvisatory highlights that required listeners to be sophisticated and open-minded. One aspect I enjoyed was the interesting use of vocal harmonies that were as distinct and complex as their lyrical meaning, which also enhanced and helped develop the mood of their playing, bringing Umphrey's McGee's expressiveness full circle.

The strength of a band can be measured by their ability to listen and respond - two traits challenging in their own rights - but once in balance with one another become the two most important building blocks for a band's staying power. Working through their ambitious progressions with obvious ease, Umphrey's makes clear their musical intentions aim to take a bite from many styles but their solid footing and general know-how allows them to present them with taste and talent.

Chris Robinson - Black Crowes :: 07.06 :: Chicago
After a very short set change, The Black Crowes made their way onstage unannounced. Clad in apparel reminiscent of the 60's hippie generation and sunglasses, lead singer Chris Robinson's lanky silhouette moved into the foreground. After commenting on what a nice night it was, the band launched into a lengthy intro to "Wiser Time" over a chorus of cymbals.

On "Jealous Again," the storytelling lyrics, shared between brothers Chris and Rich Robinson, are nicely layered with the female background singers' upper harmonies. The vocals are pitted against guitar and keyboard phrasing, alternating the instrumentation and creating several highlights in the arrangement.

"Cosmic Friend" gathered momentum with wailing guitar and prominent bass interplay. The song's vocals are doubled in the bass leaving a lot of space for Chris to explore his vocal range. With call and response ideas exchanged between vocals and guitar, heavy drum accents supplied this confident groove with the edge it needed. Proving that The Black Crowes can cross several genres lines, the band slowed things down on "Seeing Things." In the true spirit of a slow blues number, Chris led the vocal hierarchy between himself and his soulful backup singers with soaring intensity and clarity. Transferring between his low and high range with ease, Chris exposed and expanded the wounded nature of the lyrics artfully. With a slow buildup and depth of groove, the song arrived at the powerful climax with its minimal harmonic framework intact.

Rich Robinson - Black Crowes :: 07.06
Those only familiar with the Crowes' radio hits - "She Talks To Angels," "Remedy" and "Hard to Handle" - had to wait until the tail end of the set to sing-along. These songs seemed mechanical for most of the band except for the liberties taken with the phrasing during "She Talks To Angels," demonstrating Chris' intuitive ability to define time and space with his sincere efforts. Delayed entrances on the verses forced a new shape and accent to emerge during the song's bridge.

The Black Crowes' setlist from the Petrillo Band Shell was a small montage of their impressive repertoire. Reflecting on different styles from past generations of rock & roll and blues musicians while simultaneously adding a modern twist, The Black Crowes manage to preserve the roots of American Music with authenticity. With a lead singer as unbridled and willing as Chris Robinson at their helm, The Black Crowes' abundance of musicality is transformed into a contagious art form.

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[Published on: 8/13/07]

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Johnnycobba starstarstar Mon 8/13/2007 04:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

too many big words!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/14/2007 06:15AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

the crowes performing hard to handle is a JOKE compared to the days of PIGPEN. Go UMPH!!!

AdCo Tue 8/14/2007 07:37AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


so um played wallets> jimmy stewart> wallets? is it me or does it sound like it was ms. lopa's first time seeing umph? i agree johnny - too many big words, not enough substance. sorry to bash the review, i just thought it was quite weak.

knibbs Tue 8/14/2007 08:54AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I thought this review was well written, the big words work here! So what if it was her first time seeing UM that makes her opinion a little more credible in my book. I would have expected to see this review a long time ago, not a month after the show. This was a fun night though.

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/14/2007 09:37AM
Show -8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
DBang Tue 8/14/2007 10:12AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hey milesgone, ever hear Otis Redding sing Hard to Handle? No one will ever top that...certainly not the likes of Pigpen or Chris Robinson. That fact does not make their interpretation any less valid. In this case, the original version is the definitive version, but, hey, the song is still lively and vibrant coming through many other voices.

gmoo Tue 8/14/2007 10:26AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



"They make Moe sound like TV on the Radio."

Is this what you are trying to say?



I'm not sure what the deal is. Maybe you don't understand funk and you need your pop-punk drums to keep you floored, but man, TV on the Radio is just awful. You think people are going to be talking about them for generations while Umphrey's has 15 minutes of fame? I guess headlining festivals must signify the end of their '15 minutes'. But seriously, you can't expect credibility when you say things like this. Maybe you don't like UM, but they are gonna blow up in a good way. Sorry.

As for the article, it was written well. Maybe the reviewer didn't know as much about music as some other reviewers, but the words still made me feel, so I can't complain. Two nights of Umphrey's in Chitown. 11 Days!

RothburyWithCheese star Tue 8/14/2007 10:35AM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
AdCo Tue 8/14/2007 11:05AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


the otis version of hard to handle is the cats pajamas, the bee's knees

and i can appreciate the unbiased view of a new listener, but i just felt like this reviewer didnt tell me much about the specific performance, just her impressions of the band. in short, it didnt really tell me anything i didnt already know, and i like when a review can give me a real sense of what it was like to be at the show. the part about the crowes was better tho

gmoo Tue 8/14/2007 11:43AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Feel the base, b b base.

diggy Tue 8/14/2007 12:41PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I read a lot of these articles/comments now and then because it's interesting....and I cancelled my relix subscription. But it seems to me that some of these idiots that post their .02 need to find a different outlet or something. I'm a big Umphrey's fan, and I like the Crows. Thats why I bothered to read the article. These kids that get on here and write all this bullshit about how much the band being written about sucks outta step off. It's stupid. Why read the article, why bother to comment....? It's almost like you just want to be irritating or something...hmmmm. I see the same names over and over again on the same bands articles saying the same types of dumb shit all the time. Find a new website or something. This one's for people who like the music, and want to talk about it. Folks like Juggy McCree up there need to go freebase somewhere else. Find a new outlet, and stick your finger in it....peace

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/14/2007 01:04PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
diggy Tue 8/14/2007 01:12PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Or else.... feel the base, b b base...

Thanks for contributing!

Johnnycobba starstarstarstar Tue 8/14/2007 01:19PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i would like to retract my previous statement about to many big words...after reading the article again it does work

big words and me being really high doesnt help me read :) good article...and 45 minutes of umphrey's is waaay to short...

Adam McCullough - Photographer starstarstarstarstar Tue 8/14/2007 06:48PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Setlist comes from Umphrey's web site, try doing some research before you bash an article. Guess you're not much of a UM fan after all...


shmc star Tue 8/14/2007 09:30PM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

How wonderful that there is someone to review this show. And how even more wonderful that this woman actually SHOWED UP for the show.
Set list as follows:

P E R F O R M A N C E :
The Black Crowes
06 July 2007 - Taste Of Chicago - Chicago, IL [ USA ]
S E T L I S T »
Wiser Time
Sting Me
Jealous Again
Bad Luck Blue Eyes Goodbye
Soul Singing
Seeing Things
Thorn In My Pride
She Talks To Angels
Twice As Hard
Hard To Handle
S H O W L E N G T H:
90 minutes

Has she ever heard "Cosmic Friend"? I think not. If she had, she would have known that this song didn't show up anywhere in the midwest during this tour. Thanks for the attempt yet this can't be taken seriously.

AdCo Wed 8/15/2007 06:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


McCullough -

you misunderstood my post, perhaps because i wasn't clear enough. what i meant was "umph only played those 2 songs?" because they were the only songs referenced in the article. i wasnt implying that they didnt actually play those particular songs. and sorry you don't like my opinions about the review, but i just didnt like it. when you put something out there, you take the chance it will get criticized.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Wed 8/15/2007 09:21AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

you should direct your posts to the article and not the other comments; or whatever, knock yourselves out!!
this is good entertainment for me while I work anyway. :P

Adam McCullough - Photographer Wed 8/15/2007 07:27PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I didn't say anything about your negative comment on the review, it was the arrogance of your first sentence that irked me. If you had elobrated more and said something like "those were the only three songs played..." maybe I would have understood. Read your comment and it comes across as a slap in the face of the reviewer. Especially b/c she doesnt name all the Black Crowes songs that were played.

I know when you put something out there I'm well aware you are going to get criticized, you werent the only one with a negative comment, but I responded to yours b/c it came across poorly.

Not to mention the fact I didnt write the review, so criticize away, just make sure you say the pictures look great.

spaceface7 starstarstar Wed 8/15/2007 09:30PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

man, i cant wait for new years in chi-town!! how bout keller, pnuma trio, and talib kweli or the roots for openers? that would be the shit (just dreaming out loud)

candise starstarstar Mon 8/20/2007 12:18PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Hey Adam McCullough-

The pictures look great.

briank67 Thu 8/23/2007 09:07AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


ignoring the bullshit and talking about this concert... i was impressed by umphreys' set but pretty disappointed by the black crowes' show. too much soul, not enough rock!