Umphrey’s McGee Concludes UMBowl At Capitol Theatre
The band debuted four covers over the course of the night, including songs by Pink Floyd, Smashing Pumpkins, Ice Cube and The Isley Brothers.
Umphrey’s McGee returned to The Capitol Theatre Saturday for their second of two UMBowl concerts in Port Chester, New York. The sextet presented three sets last night — the all-improv “Stew Art” set, an “All Night Wrong” covers set and a “Band’s Picks” frame — to bring the football-themed weekend and first UMBowl since 2016 to a close.
UMBowl features interaction from fans who on Saturday texted ideas in real-time to help guide the band’s jamming for the “Stew Art” set and picked covers in advance from a ballot sent out to determine the songs played during the “All Night Wrong” set. This year’s event, which was originally slated for May 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic, was the first held over two nights. Friday's show saw fans drive a “Choose Your Own Adventure” set as it happened and “Acoustic All Request” frame by voting before the show and also featured a “Band’s Picks” set.
A large screen was hung behind Umphrey’s McGee as they took the stage on Saturday for their seventh-ever “Stew Art Event” set and first since May 1, 2015. Fans sent in concepts via text which were filtered by the event’s producer. A new idea was displayed on the screen every few minutes and the band would react by interpreting the concepts within their improvisation. UM got the frame underway with the instrumental intro “There’s No Crying In Mexico,” the set’s lone “song” before drummer Kris Myers laid down a groovy base and guitarist Jake Cinninger shredded prog-rock riffs in leading the band through the improvisational response to “Math Rock Meets Soul.”
The next idea shown on the screen was “Jane Fonda Workout” which saw the band connect on an ’80s-esque soundscape while guitarist Brendan Bayliss urged fans to move their arms “up” and “down.” Other ideas expertly interpreted by Umphrey’s McGee included “Reggae Against The Machine,” “Increasing Tempo Jam,” “Zappa Goes To A Rave” and “Evil Ambiance.” Each segment averaged about four minutes and Umphrey’s wasted little time coming up with just the right music to fit every disparate idea. It did take Bayliss a while to respond to “Brendan Compliments Joel” but eventually the guitarist shared his appreciation for a pair of purple pants keyboardist Joel Cummins wears occasionally. The finale, “Keyboard Galaxy,” saw Bayliss, Cinninger and bassist Ryan Stasik lay down their axes and join Cummins at his rig. Jake, Brendan, Ryan and Joel each played a different keyboard within Cummins’ set up as Kris and percussionist Andy Farag vamped underneath.
Last night’s “All Night Wrong” covers set started with UM’s first cover of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” since December 14, 2018. Myers impressively belted out the lead vocals before the six-piece broke through the song’s typical structure for an adventurous jam. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” spanned nearly 14 minutes with the group mixing funk and rock throughout the otherworldly improv. Eventually, UM brought the music to near silence with Cummins laying the groundwork for their launch into Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.” The band played the Remain In Light classic straight with Bayliss doing an excellent job channeling David Byrne to the delight of the crowd.
The set continued with Pink Floyd’s “Mother,” the first of Saturday’s four debut covers. Bayliss utilized an acoustic guitar and sang the chorus while Cinninger stuck on electric and sang the verses. Umphrey’s nailed all seven songs performed during “All Night Wrong,” including the “Rosanna” that followed “Mother.” The gem from Toto’s 1982 album Toto IV was last performed by UM on March 12, 2017 — a span of 324 shows. Last night’s version featured an expansive and outrageous jam in which they varied tempos and explored multiple progressions. From there, UM uncorked their first take on Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.” Myers led the group on the 1996 hit off Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.
“Here’s one we haven’t played in a long time, we hope you like it a lot,” Bayliss advised the crowd ahead of Umphrey’s McGee’s first rendition of the Chick Corea-penned “Señor Mouse” from Al Di Meola’s Casino LP since January 29, 2016. The band expertly worked through each portion with no rust shown despite the 440-show gap between plays. From there, the members of Umphrey’s McGee each moved to a different instrument for “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. Farag played drums, Cummins and Stasik played guitar, Bayliss played bass and Cinninger played keys as Kris Myers rapped the lyrics from the percussion perch normally occupied by Andy Farag. “Yeah, you motherfuckers!” Myers exclaimed during the false ending before UM brought the song and the “All Night Wrong” set to its conclusion.
Umphrey’s McGee opened last night’s “Band’s Picks” stanza with a 15:30 “Maybe Someday” as they took the song off their 2018 album it’s not us deep. The six-piece patiently built the jam to a frenetic peak featuring Brendan, Jake and Joel all ripping it up at the same time while Andy, Kris and Ryan held down the beat. UM then tore into the beloved “All In Time” garnering a huge reaction from the audience. “All In Time” bled into “Hajimemashite” with Bayliss dramatically powering through his passion-laden delivery of the vocals. Cinninger then unleashed a masterful guitar solo filled with one relentless torrent of riffs after another to end the oldie.
Next, Umphrey’s dug into their massive original repertoire for “Search 4,” a Jake Cinninger-penned rocker that had been on the shelf since December 27, 2019. Nearly four hours into the marathon concert came the evening’s longest song, a +16-minute “Ringo.” The band connected on a dirty groove to form the base of the first “Ringo” improv as once again UM embarked on a high-octane excursion and the song’s second jam was wild, prog-heavy affair. Umphrey’s finished “Ringo” and then picked up “All In Time” where they had left off earlier in the set to close the frame.
Umphrey’s McGee wasn’t done yet as the band emerged for the encore with Andy “Cousin Eli” Farag taking center stage. “New Farag Rap” was on the ballot for the “All Night Wrong” set and apparently scored a number of votes as the percussionist fronted the UM’s debut “It Was A Good Day.” The Ice Cube classic gave way to an instrumental foray on The Isley Brothers’ “Between The Sheets” to end the marathon concert. While UMBowl XIII came much later than expected, it was well worth the wait. The band is among the tightest and most creative in the game and displayed their improvisational and technical wizardry as they fired on all cylinders throughout the weekend.
There’s No Crying In Mexico/Math Rock Meets Soul/Jane Fonda Workout/Middle Eastern Trance
Setlist (via All Things Umphreys)
Set One: There’s No Crying In Mexico > Stew Art Event
Set Two: I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) > Once In a Lifetime, Mother, Rosanna > 1979, Senor Mouse, Sabotage
Set Three: Maybe Someday, All In Time > Hajimemashite, Search 4, Ringo > All In Time
Encore: It Was a Good Day > Between the Sheets
-  debut, Pink Floyd; with Brendan on acoustic guitar
-  debut, The Smashing Pumpkins
-  with Andy on drums, Brendan on bass, Jake on keys, Joel on guitar, Kris on percussion, and Ryan on guitar
-  with Cut the Cable tease
-  debut, Ice Cube; with Andy on vocals
-  debut, The Isley Brothers; instrumental