First off, music aside, the Riv was a great place to see this band. The staff was friendly and efficient. I was barely searched each of the three nights and the lines were relatively fast (except coat check on the first night - what nightmare!). There was unlimited free ice water for those worked up dancers. My only true complaint was that the drinks were horribly overpriced. I'm not from Chicago, but $5 for a can of Miller Light - are you kidding me?? What's unfortunate is the fact that everyone I talked to said something to the effect of "Oh it's Chicago, get used to it" - drink prices like that are ALWAYS a rip off and really put a damper on any night.
Ok, now on to the music...
HOLY SMOKES! What a run. NYE made it 15th show and I feel like I've seen a whole range of shows, from forgettable (Bonnaroo '08) to good eg. misc. Summercamp shows (and by the way, "good" for an UM show would be a crowning achievement for any other band) to great eg. Peoria 10/11/09 to absolutely phenomenal (10/30/10 St. Louis) and all three of these nights were ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL. The first night was perhaps the best show for the serious Umphreak, due to monstrous jams in ALMOST EVERY SONG. The same can be said for night 2, I suppose. How did this review not mention the Bottom Half jam in the first set?? One of the best cuts of the run if you ask me...
And NYE was just too much fun. Incredible jams (the All in Time anyone???) mixed with great humor and a party-time sense from the band (Kris Myers' JB getup was CLASSIC) are what NYE was all about. This show killed last years NYE show. The Beck song was just exhilarating, Slacker was unreal, and the Rocker Pt. II jam in the first set was one for the books. WHAT A SHOW! As you can tell I'm reliving some of the excitement I felt during the show right now. When I think about it these days I can't help but run to my stereo, throw on the shows and start cutting a rug. I cannot wait to see UM again (Lawrence, KS I believe) and I hope they are doing NYE somewhere within a days drive next year. I'm hoping Denver/Boulder, Tennessee, heck maybe even St. Louis (though I doubt they'll play anywhere in the midwest.
UM is truly THE SEMINAL POST MILLENIUM JAMBAND. No other band has worked as hard in the last ten years as they have. They are poised to explode (will they, or will they plateau as they are? this is a question I often discuss with my buddies). With shows like this, I can't understand how they won't start playing bigger venues (I wouldn't mind either way - I love seeing them in smaller places but I would also enjoy the pride as a fan that would come with larger recognition of the band). Long live UM!