Umphrey's McGee | 01.22 & 01.23 | CO

Words by: Adam Cremeans | Images by: Spady Photography & Jason Woodside

Umphrey's McGee :: 01.22.10 :: Belly Up :: Aspen, CO

Jake Cinninger :: 01.22 :: Aspen by Spady
Umphrey's McGee barreled into Colorado, steaming from a short run through the west with stops in Arizona, California, Nevada, Idaho and Utah. These shows were met with high- praise as the band showcased a degree of improvisation and exploration that many Umphreaks felt defined this tour. The band's sound has always been rooted in creative inventiveness, though something about these most-recent shows seemed to lift their energy to a new level.

Expectations were high as night fell on the small town of Aspen. The Belly Up has long been considered one of the more intimate venues in Colorado and with a capacity of just 450, the room feels more like a small jazz club than a rock venue. In addition, the sound system is often regarded as one of the best in the country as the club's smaller dimensions result in supurb acoustics. With a sold out crowd descending into the club, a murmur of excitement flowed through the air as we staked out our respective places and settled in for a night of fun.

The band took the stage and opened with "In the Kitchen," jumping right in with the same free-forming style from previous nights, segued beautifully into "Padgett's Profile." A loud "Rocker (Pt. II)" quickly mellowed out as the opening chords of "Dear Lord" quickly drew smiles from some of the older fans in the audience. If you are unfamiliar with this song please seek it out immediately; it is one of the first UM compositions and it beautifully reflects a side of the band rarely seen.

Ryan Stasik :: 01.22 :: Aspen by Spady
The rest of the set belonged to Joel Cummins (keys) and Brendan Bayliss (guitar/vocals) as both led the band through an exceptional "Uncle Wally" > "Great American" jam. "Syncopated Strangers" was played sharp and fast, striking a metal tone that stayed present throughout the whole show. A short return back in to "Kitchen" closed out the first set. During the break, the crowd milled around as few seemed willing to give up their space in the oversold venue.

A pretty standard start to the second set included a cover of Van Halen's "Runnin' With The Devil" and an aptly placed "Thin Air" to acknowledge the elevation. Things then quickly got interesting in the middle of "Phil's Farm" as the band introduced a new jam technique which has been coined "The Linear" for now. Yet to be fully explained, this is apparently something comparable to the concept of the "Jimmy Stewart", though, according to the band, it will "change each time it's played." Whatever it is, or becomes, remains to be seen but on this night the process was explosive.

A very upbeat version of "The Haunt" kicked the crowd directly in the teeth before Bayliss briefly switched to a mini-synthesizer, dropping the opening notes to the instant dance party of "Cemetery Walk II." This has quickly emerged as one of the more popular Mantis tracks and the effect it has on a high-energy crowd is just plain fun.

For the encore, the band served up a concise version of "Sociable Jimmy," which then gave way to a rocking version of "Hollywood Nights" that had the crowd soaring as Jake Cinninger (guitar/vocals) belted out his best Bob Seger impression. The show ended and the crowd spilled out into the gorgeous Aspen night as talk quickly shifted to Denver and anticipation began to grow for Saturday's doubleheader.

Umphrey's McGee :: 01.22.10 :: Belly Up :: Aspen, CO
Set I: In The Kitchen > Padgett's Profile, Rocker (part II) > Dear Lord > Uncle Wally > Great American, Syncopated Strangers > In The Kitchen
Set II: Professor Wormbog, Runnin' With The Devil, Thin Air, Phil's Farm > The Linear* > Phil's Farm, #5, Mail Package**, The Haunt > Cemetery Walk II
E: Sociable Jimmy > Hollywood Nights

* first time played, original
** with Entrance of the Gladiators teases

Continue reading for the review of Umphrey's McGee at the Fillmore in Denver...


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