Words by: Brian Heisler | Images by: Tobin Voggesser
Umphrey's McGee :: 10.31.07 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: Denver, CO
On a chilly Halloween night in the Mile High City, ghosts, goblins and clowns took over the Fillmore for a special evening with primo purveyors of jam rock Umphrey's McGee. Local Denver greats-on-the-rise Kinetix got things going with a blistering set for the hometown crowd, and helped set the mood with their Halloween attire. If this performance was any indication, it won't be long before Kinetix is headlining the Fillmore.
| Ryan Stasik - UM :: 10.31.07 :: Colorado|
On a stage filled with black light, responsive tombstones and a projection screen playing horror movies, Umphrey's crept out as zombies with ghostly white faces and ragged clothing to the original Halloween playing on the screen and over the speakers. "Plunger" opened the evening with a bright fury that would continue throughout the set, which was focused on fan favorites and a traditional, solid setlist with added festive musings. After an extended jam within "Plunger," "Higgins" led to the Halloween movie theme featuring sharp, moody playing by Joel Cummins on keys. The Halloween theme was fused into an extended intro to "Believe the Lie." It was obvious this was a special night when "Partyin' Peeps," a sing-along favorite usually held till the latter part of a show, was released.
The night played out very much like a music video with the band coordinating the music with the horror films. I found myself lost in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, watching Jack Nicholson chase his victims with an axe through the Stanley Hotel, located just north of Denver in Estes Park. Each time Nicholson swung his axe into the door, Umphrey's coordinated a slamming sound within "Jajunk" that truly brought the film to life. I must admit, I honestly gazed at the screen in a lifeless manner, lost in fright, before I came to my senses and pulled my eyes from the video.
The prompted terror only increased as the night drew on. The second set ripped open with the electronic sounds of "The Triple Wide," which grew into continually darker, heavier, metallic jams the rest of the night. Umphrey's explicitly set a mood to match the horror films. Set one and set two were night and day, almost as if the band was gritting its teeth as it carved from "Push the Pig" to "Padgett's Profile." Much like a typical, rocking UM show, the first set hit on all levels but the second set was of a different species, still utilizing classics but with a dark, raging atmosphere designed for Halloween. The Umph seized the second set, taking on the role of Stephen King and developing their own version of horror. Repeatedly, the scary movies blended with the music and minds of the audience, moving from "Robot World" into "Bridgeless," which featured perhaps the Holy Grail of scary movies, The Exorcist.
Appropriately enough, the encore began with "Hajimemashite," which could have fit perfectly with the brighter, more vocal-oriented first set, and closed with the electric "Wizard Burial Ground." On this Halloween night, Umphrey's McGee created a special atmosphere from the props to the sound in a feat worthy of award.
Set 1: Plunger > Higgins, Halloween theme > Believe the Lie, Partyin' Peeps, Star Spangled Banner, #5, JaJunk
Set 2: The Triple Wide > The Floor*, Push the Pig^, Padgett's Profile$, Much Obliged > Piano Sonata #16 in C Major**, Robot World > Bridgeless
Encore: Hajimemashite > Wizard Burial Ground
After being "killed" by a grim reaper in Las Vegas, the band took the stage as zombies; the band played along to clips from various horror movies shown on a projection screen ("Believe the Lie" with Halloween, "Star Spangled Banner" and "#5" with Poltergeist, "JaJunk" with The Shining, "The Triple Wide" with Dawn of the Dead, "Padgett's Profile" with A Nightmare on Elm Street, "Much Obliged" with Frankenstein, "Bridgeless" with The Exorcist, and "Wizard Burial Ground" with It).
* first time played, original
^ with Jake on keys
$ with jam similar to 03.02.07 JaJunk
** first time played, Mozart
last Halloween theme 10.31.03
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