Umphrey's McGee | 02.15 - 02.17 | SF

Words by: Mark Miller | Images by: Susan J. Weiand

Umphrey's McGee :: 02.15.08 – 02.17.08 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA

Umphrey's McGee :: The Fillmore :: 02.16
President's Day weekend 2008 marked Umphrey's McGee's first three-night stand in San Francisco since their memorable May 2005 run at the Great American Music Hall. The Fillmore run concluded a short but highly successful West Coast tour by the Chicago sextet, one that garnered rave reviews from Vancouver to San Diego.

The Om Trio reunited for a special three-night engagement of their own for the first time in nearly three years as requested by UM. The OM Trio is keyboardist Brian Felix, bassist Pete Novembre and drummer Ilya Stemkovsky.

Friday 02.15.08

Umphrey's began the festivities with "Bridgeless," where '80s arena rock meets Zeppelin-worthy monster riffs and smooth conga fills by percussionist Andy Farag. The band manifested the song title allegorically, leaving "Bridgeless" adrift, segueing into "Much Obliged," bassist Ryan Stasik and guitarist-vocalist Brendan Bayliss' sly tale of expecting too much out of life. Perhaps Bayliss was telling fans to chill on the expectations for this weekend. "Obliged" yielded tough metal shredding from the sinister Jake Cinninger on guitar. The morphing continued as "Dump City" was summoned next with the jamming dominated by extended, drawn out notes.

"Partyin' Peeps" was much improved over 2006's debacle that featured an out-of-place Keller Williams on vocals (and shoddy dance moves). First set later came to a cohesive conclusion when the band completed "Bridgeless." The second set opened with "Miss Tinkle's Overture," Umphrey's magnificent mishmash of classical strains and driving prog-rock. "2nd Self" saw some Allman Brothers-like harmony playing from the Cinninger-Bayliss duet.

"Der Bluten Kat," or "DBK" as it's affectionately known, finally arrived, left out of UM's five previous Fillmore shows. Bayliss dedicated the song to fans that "don't get out much." This "DBK" jam sported a funky feel until it diffused into "Gulf Stream," a contemplative melodic debut, fragments of which had been previously played in late 2007. "Gulf" demonstrated the considerable improvement in Cinninger's vocals. The band used the tranquility to stretch the jam out before returning to the conclusion of "DBK," and while it won't be ranked among the all-time great versions, it topped the March 7, 2005 "Kat."

While "Syncopated Strangers" was a worthy follow-up, the joyful reggae of "Utopian Fir" seemed a bit too subdued to close out the second set, but it made more sense during the encore of Rage Against The Machine's "Bombtrack," a first-time cover featuring OM Trio's Stemkovsky on snarling vocals and Felix on keys.

02.15.08 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, California
Set I: Bridgeless > Much Obliged > Dump City, Partyin' Peeps, The Fussy Dutchman, Sociable Jimmy > Bridgeless
Set II: Miss Tinkle's Overture, 2nd Self > Der Bluten Kat > Gulf Stream* > Der Bluten Kat, Syncopated Strangers, Utopian Fir
Encore: Bombtrack**
Notes: OM Trio opened
* new original; similar to 11.10.07 Blue Echo and 12.31.07 Plunger
** first time played, Rage Against the Machine; with Ilya Stemkovsky on vocals and Brian Felix on keys (both of OM Trio)

Saturday 02.16.08

Jake Cinninger :: 02.16
The middle child of the stand saw Cinninger come out to jam with OM Trio for the final number of their opening set, where he matched wits with Felix. The Umph set got off to a spectacular start with the cool '70s flow of "Pay the Snucka (Parts 1 & 2)," with lyrics that sport sarcastic references to each of the six band members. The lighting by Adam Budney was perfect, with the spotlight hitting each member as he received his lyrical "tribute."

"Rocker Part II" featured Bayliss/Cummins harmonies and a chugging jam from Stasik and drummer Kris Myers. Next up was "Got Your Milk (Right Here)," a song that makes some veteran Umphreaks lactose intolerant. However, "Milk" is undeniable fun with its solid riffage and Bayliss' soaring vocal lines. Cummins dropped synth bombs during the "Mail Package" > "Walletsworth" > "Mail Package" sequence, and "Walletsworth" featured a slow building, delayed intro to its energetic opening chords that made it much more arresting than usual.

"It smells good in here," said Bayliss, later noting that the whole Fillmore atmosphere made it feel like they were "playing in their basement." The true highlight of this set was saved for the closing number, "The Triple Wide," Umphrey's successful stab at the trance-fusion style pioneered by their brothers in sonic chicanery, The Disco Biscuits. This particular "Triple Wide" lived up to its name, getting quite expansive, with the band and guest bassist David Murphy of STS9 effortlessly taking the jam through many spaces and places with an ease and confidence that recalled Phish in their heyday. Budney's rainbow array of lighting perfectly matched the colors generated by the music.

"Hurt Bird Bath" proved to be a wise choice to kick off the second set, and this rendition was aided by spontaneous audience participation that filled the silent void during the fierce stop/start section. The more casual fans shook their asses to Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla," which featured Mike Flynn on the keys and was dedicated to the people of the Midwest. Then it was back to the mind-blowing prog people paid good money for as "Mulches Odyssey" wrapped around new tune "Wappy Sprayberry," an ebullient Bayliss number with a lot of potential. This could be Umph's "Scarlet Begonias." "Hangover" featured Cecil "Peanut" Daniels on midi sax.

Cinninger's introduction to the encore summed up this whole tour: "Whatever happens, happens." Umphrey's debuted their cover of Smashing Pumpkins' ""Rhinoceros," a cut done ten years earlier by Phish, but this seemed more apropos with one Chicago band covering another. "Snucka" returned from the show opener to collect the rest of his payment with the furious mini-opus "Part 3." The band had indeed upped the ante with this evening's performance, which was the best show of the weekend.

02.16.08 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, California
Set I: Pay the Snucka$ > Rocker (part II) > Got Your Milk (Right Here), Mail Package > Walletsworth > Mail Package, The Triple Wide^
Set II: Hurt Bird Bath, Layla^^, Mulche's Odyssey > Wappy Sprayberry > Mulche's Odyssey, Hangover*, Higgins
Encore: Rhinoceros** > Pay the Snucka
Notes: OM Trio opened
$ with Machine Gun jam
^ with Dave Murphy (Sound Tribe Sector 9) replacing Ryan on bass
^^ with Mike Flynn on keys
* with Cecil "P-Nut" Daniels on midi-saxophone; with So What? jam
** first time played, Smashing Pumpkins

Sunday 02.17.08

Brendan Bayliss :: 02.17
Sunday was the last show of the stand and the tour, and for the third night in a row, Umphrey's launched with an epic, this time choosing the multilayered "Jajunk," though this version didn't approach the February 13 monster in Los Angeles that featured a full-on band switch with Brooklyn instrumentalists Dub Trio.

"Thin Air" featured dueling hammer-on leads from Bayliss and Cinninger, and "FF" featured interplay between Cinninger and Cummins that was at times jazzy, at others more sustained and trippy, before unfurling into full-on psychedelia. "Slacker," Bayliss' ode to living life on one's own terms, featured a throbbing solo by Stasik and nice tribal percussion from Farag.

Bayliss then announced the set closer with the mocking tone of a clichéd radio DJ, saying, "You want less talk and more rock?" When the crowd roared confirmation, Umph rolled out "Wizard Burial Ground," their delightfully dark gothic metal instrumental. Close your eyes and it's as if you've returned to the head banging '80s.

Second set got serious with the "Bottom Half" with Bayliss' sad, deeply felt lyrics that led to an ironically optimistic jam that segued perfectly into "Nothing Too Fancy," a number that never fails to get the feet shuffling. Particle's keyboardist Steve Molitz joined Cummins and the pair conjured up an assortment of '70s funk and synth stylings. "40's Theme" popped open next. Cinninger's dirty-funk tribute to the liquor store had Tea Leaf Green's Josh Clark replace Bayliss for some rich dueling before Cinninger unleashed a transcendent solo that could serve as the soundtrack to heaven - hardly what one would expect from a song that started out as a nod to cheap beer but that's Umphrey's McGee for ya.

It was the "Out of Order" > "N2F" finale that really put a capper on the evening, and indeed the entire weekend. The jam linking the two songs was a shimmering disco rave-up that further underscored Cummins' role in this show's success. It was as if the band suddenly realized this was the last big jam of the tour and answered the call appropriately. The encore brought one final debut cover, namely Ween's "It's Going to be a Long Night." Upon viewing the setlist, some irate Phish fans cried foul that Umphrey's is aping Phish's unique choice of covering Ween's "Roses are Free" back in '97. Some Ween fans were equally outraged but the band ripped through the Motorhead-like, up-tempo, sarcastic ditty without looking back.

Cinninger & Stasik :: 02.17 :: The Fillmore
02.17.08 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, California
Set I: JaJunk, Thin Air > FF > Slacker, Wizard Burial Ground
Set II: Intentions Clear^, The Bottom Half > Nothing Too Fancy^^ > Children's Story$ > The Bottom Half, 40's Theme$$, #End of the Road > Out of Order > Nothing Too Fancy
Encore: It's Gonna Be a Long Night*^
Notes: ^ with Mitch Marcus on saxophone
^^ with Steve Molitz on keys
$ first time played, Slick Rick; with Steve Molitz on keys and rap
$$ with Josh Clark (Tea Leaf Green) replacing Brendan on guitar
# with Some Children See Him (Hutson & Burt) introduction
* first time played, Ween

Cummings w/ Om Trio :: 02.17
OM Trio played a special late night after party at the Boom Boom Room across the street from The Fillmore. Kris Myers and Joel Cummins sat in on drums and keyboards, respectively, for a good half hour romp. While it was disappointing that Cinninger and/or Bayliss didn't join the jam, it was a privilege to witness an accomplished drummer like Myers up close. Soon after, the ten sets of combined music from OM Trio and Umphrey's McGee came to an end.

While this run might not have captured the spontaneity of the 2005 Great American three-night stand or two nights in Petaluma in April 2006, musically it has to be regarded as the most impressive with Umphrey's possibly on the verge of entering a new peak phase.

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[Published on: 2/29/08]

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foadser starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 04:58PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review. Howlin Rain write up & UM show review in the same day. You folks may actually be getting your poop in a group. I like it.

MusicIsGood starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 06:05PM
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Agreed, Poop in a group.


onthemoon starstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 06:36PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


these reviews really reminded me of what i like about this band. thanks

paulygparty starstarstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 07:17PM
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Give us 3 nights somewhere in L.A., Umphrey's McGee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

freverdead starstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 07:46PM
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the greatest three nights the fillmore seen in a long time

RedMule starstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 08:14PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good run, however, youre too quick to forget the three nights DSO did during the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in October, with sit ins by Bobby, Keller Williams, T-Bone Burnett, etc...

Chicagoan's love the Bay! When is Cornmeal and Family Groove coming out west?!?

beadiamondsomday starstarstarstar Fri 2/29/2008 08:40PM
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somebody help me for a sec, WAS THAT A GIBSON ON JAKE? i thought he only played GnL for the shows, it looks sweet, wonder if he still had the same video game sounding tone? anybody at the show??

Minnasoda starstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 12:18AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


thanks! Nice review. And great pics as always Susan! you capture moments very well.

c monson

articgtp starstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 04:51AM
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good review. only gripe i have is that wappy is not a new tune. it is reworked, but not new, just new to regular rotation.

moemoe6434 Sat 3/1/2008 05:15AM
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BEADIAMONDSOMDAY - I do not know who Jake (not really familiar with UM) is but there are no Gibsons in any of those photos.

theworldisonfire88 Sat 3/1/2008 06:57AM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
MatthewAtienza Sat 3/1/2008 07:32AM
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haha its hard to give them a negative comment, these guys are 100%

iamkickinit Sat 3/1/2008 08:27AM
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Goddamn, looks like it was a downright filthy weekend of UM. I wish i was there for the triple wide w/Murph and that N2F w/Molitz.

cuttyfives Sat 3/1/2008 08:36AM
Show -13 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Matthew Jaworski starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 08:41AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Matthew Jaworski

Pony's got a bad-ass rock-face in that last pic. Um is the truth. And so is OM.

hnkscrpio starstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 12:23PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


These look like some cool Umphrey's shows. Here's a negative comment on Umphrey's for ya, not how they play cause they throwdown, but Pony dresses like the biggest fool ever. He always wears boy band get ups now. Did anybody see what he wore on the 30th at the Aragon, so funny. Not to mention the borat swim wear, I guess I'll let that slide since it was in Jamaica. Well that's about it, I'm in a goofy mood.

Tony8 starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 02:10PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


UM is the best metal band I have ever seen. LOL!

mikemac9317 Sat 3/1/2008 02:25PM
Show -9 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
T. Ralph starstar Sat 3/1/2008 03:09PM
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If Umphrey's is a "metal band" then they are a "hair metal band." Positive review though, I just think they are too technical without much substance.

pottad starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/1/2008 03:56PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Umphrey's is the shit. not much substance? They are one of the most dynamic bands out there today. They have the balls to play pop and metal in the same jam and they can cover just about any genre of music. Just because you dont dig umphreys doesnt mean they suck balls.

Muffinman1 Sat 3/1/2008 05:14PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I love umphreys, and yes they also sometimes remind me of a hair band, but without all the girly clothes and make-up. Yes I'm talking to you Tommy Lee.

1048 star Sun 3/2/2008 12:16AM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
dajunx starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/2/2008 10:44AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


There's nothing like a so-called "music fan" commenting on what a musician is wearing on stage. Maybe Jambase should have a board about fashion, where you fruitcakes can talk about what clothing, hairstyles, and accessories our favorite musicians are wearing! YAY!

(Psst...It's the MUSIC that matters, and Ryan is S-I-C-K.)

PooDolla starstarstarstar Sun 3/2/2008 11:46AM
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I went to the third night and thought it was a solid show. Second set was killer. The encore song choice could have been a lot better.

cam0083 starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/2/2008 01:53PM
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After reading this it only makes me more excited for their third night in a row here at First Ave. I think that is a Gibson on Jake, he played it the first night here in MN and then switched back to his normal guitar but both sounded great.

okalrightic Sun 3/2/2008 02:26PM
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um rules my face

hnkscrpio Sun 3/2/2008 02:43PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Wow, Dajunx, you really took my little joke way too seriously. I guess I'm a "so called" music fan just because I knocked on a guys clothes. You really need to lighten up.

pottad Sun 3/2/2008 04:26PM
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hnkscrpio, is that a picture of you next to your screen name? it looks almost like the same thing Stasik is wearing.

Andy starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/2/2008 05:26PM
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Those sound like amazing shows, with really good guests. I wish I still lived in the bay area. I saw the show in Seattle and it was amazing!!! I dances so much I was sore the next day. Glad to hear that the tour was such a succes for the guy's, I hope they are around for many years

Larryfest2006 starstarstarstarstar Sun 3/2/2008 09:44PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Great review, GREAT band!

cant wait for the late night Langrado set !!!!!!!!!!!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/3/2008 05:08AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

yahh third nite looks solid.

Shmo-Kaine starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/3/2008 10:20AM
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I know it's been said plenty of times but DAMN umphrey's kicks serious ass! Sorry to say but that is not Gibson, it is a Hagstrom, les paul body style though. Can't wait for Summercamp TAG TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

beadiamondsomday starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/3/2008 11:31AM
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i still rock out to last years tag team. shit is gonna be awesome

Mountain_Icculus starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/3/2008 09:23PM
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Thank you Umphrey's for rocking my face off as well. I'm jamming Out of Order right now!

youknowwhothisis Tue 3/4/2008 11:14PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
youknowwhothisis Tue 3/4/2008 11:18PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Shmo-Kaine Wed 3/5/2008 05:44AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


"The only thing this band is good at is covers"?? You have NO idea what you are talking about. Somebody needs to chop off your fingers so you can't type such RETARDED fucking statements you douchebag.

youknowwhothisis Wed 3/5/2008 01:36PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
Umphreak3x Wed 3/5/2008 07:47PM
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FYI broski, Wappy Sprayberry is not a new song. The first time they played it was like 5 or 6 years ago. It was chillen for a while before they reworked it on the NYE run. Just so you know, its a good song, but idk a Scarlett

Mr_McDankenstein starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/7/2008 12:43AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


that weekend...changed my entire perspective of everything i thought i once knew. thank you umphrey's mcgee for being amazing.

tanqueray star Fri 3/7/2008 03:39PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

"structured improvisation"

pheelalrights starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/8/2008 06:14AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


These guys are amazing musicians. Believe it!

Yes, my neck was a little sore after SD HOB. I don't think I've headbanged that hard since going to Kid Rock. BTW, Kenny Olsen could sit in with these guys and blow their minds.


Rollin' Rosemary! Sat 4/5/2008 04:44PM
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Rollin' Rosemary!

will i be seeing anyone at the pavillion show in boston?