12.29/12.30/12.31 – Umphreys McGee at The Pageant – St. Louis, MO
Words and Pictures By: Bradley Darby
I sure as hell hope The Pageant’s insurance is up to date….. because following the three night-seven set weekend to close out 2011 and ring in 2012, there is no doubt that Umphreys McGee blew the roof off the place! If you have never seen Umphreys McGee, you should do yourself a favor and make it a point to catch a show. The band can’t be contained in one genre, and attempts to place them will always come up short when during one song you may get elements of funk, metal, progressive rock, electronic and a hint of hip hop thrown in at the same time. Umphreys McGee is one of those bands you need to see once in your life, so you can honestly say you gave them a shot to blow your mind and explode your visual senses all at the same time. The extended weekend featured quite a bit of the improv side of Umphreys, but that is when you can see them in their raw form just having fun and doing what they love for a short residency at one of the premiere concert venues in the Midwest.
New Years Eve was surely one of the greatest weekends of music I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing, and the visual stimulation added by one of the best light men out there Jefferson Waful (@JeffersonWaful) only helped add the perfect ambiance. Here’s a brief recap and setlist from each night, as well as some photos from the weekend.
Night One – Thursday 12/29
Quite possibly my favorite show of the weekend, it seemed as though Umphreys wanted to get some straight in your face rocking out of the way before bringing horns in for the rest of the weekend. The theme for Night 1 seemed to be shredding guitar riffs. Doing their best to melt faces off on “Cemetery Walk”, it was after the funky “August” before vocalist Brendan Bayliss stopped to acknowledge the crowd and congratulate the St. Louis Cardinals on their World Series victory, and then admitting how hard it was to say that. Set one was heavy on instrumentals, including “Resolution” and an Umphreys led journey on a heavy metal emotional roller coaster with “Wizard Burial Ground” to close out the set.
“Bright Lights”, in my opinion the unofficial UM Party Anthem, kicked off the second set. Always one to get the crowd moving, it makes it a lot easier when it clocks in at over 15 minutes. The medley of “1348” into “Dr Feelgood” into “Cemetery Walk II” was followed by the debut of a new cover song, “Second Song” by TV on the Radio. “Pay the Snucka” was also pretty great, and a first in my limited Umphrey’s history. After going back into “1348” to close out the set, I was pretty psyched that “Hajimemashite” was chosen as the encore, and it seemed like an absolutely amazing way to end the first night and set the bar high as Bayliss told the crowd “Lets do this again tomorrow people.”
I: Intro (debut) > Cemetery Walk, August, Resolution > Anchor Drops, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft, Wizard Burial Ground
II: Bright Lights > 1348 > Dr.Feelgood (Motley Crue) > Cemetery Walk II, Second Song (TV on the Radio), Pay the Snuck (Pts 1&2), Sociable Jimmy > 1348
Night Two – Friday 12/30
Definitely a larger crowd for night two. The show certainly didn’t disappoint, and the first set featured Brendan and Jake on acoustic guitars for a few songs including “Nemo.” I was holding out for “In The Kitchen”, but the set certainly didn’t disappoint. During the second set, after “40’s Theme”, sax man Jeff Coffin was introduced and they went into classic 80s tune “Maneater” by Hall & Oates. Coffin left after just a few songs, but Umphreys continued to rock faces off and ended the night with “Nothing Too Fancy” that was on steroids, nearly hitting the 20 minute mark.
I: Intro > Conduit, #5, The Bottom Half, Uncle Wally@, Nemo@, All Things Ninja, Slacker > Dear Lord > Slacker
II: 40’s Theme, The Triple Wide, Maneater^(Hall & Oates), Night Nurse^, Plunger, Fussy Dutchman, Nopener, Rocker part II
E: Nothing Too Fancy
Night Three – Saturday 12/31
This show sold out earlier in the day, and I am pretty sure everyone that had a ticket was in the door by 8:30 when the band started. There wasn’t room to breath, little or less dance but somehow the 2300+ in attendance found a way. “Domino Theory” and “The Floor” were first set highlights, and first night encore “Hajimemashite” was even teased during “Divisions”, giving me a brief glimmer of hope that they would bring it back.
The second set featuring Mad Dogs Filthy Little Secret as the horn section, and the return of Jeff Coffin. Highlights of set two were “Ocean Billy”, “Miami Virtue” into a cover of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” that left many wondering not only what they had just heard, but why they hadn’t heard it more.
Set three started just before midnight with a nasty “Nipple Trix” into the always sexy “Booth Love” that included the New Years countdown and balloon drop as the band transition into the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” before taking a moment to thank the crowd for letting them do this tonight and each other. (Writers Note: I would like to send a congratulations to Tiffany and John who got engaged at midnight as the balloon drop was going on, good luck you two!) Next up was David Bowie’s “Lets Dance” as the entire crowd erupted into a dance party fueled by various spirits. The night ended with “Jimmy Stewart”, with vocals (not always the case for you non-Umphreaks) as well as a memorable “Puppet Strings” to start the encore. The last song of the 7 set, just over 9 hours of Umphreys we would enjoy was Paul Simon’s “Late in the Evening” featuring the horn section. It was a perfect end to an epic weekend, and one I will never forget.
I: Jazz Odyssey > Domino Theory, The Linear > The Floor, Kabump > Divisions
II: Catshot^ > Dump City^, Don’t Do It^, Ocean Billy, 2×2, Miami Virtue^ > 25 or 6 to 4^(Chicago)
III: Nipple Trix^ > Booth Love^ > Auld Lang Syne^, Let’s Dance^(David Bowie), JaJunk > “Jimmy Stewart” > JaJunk, FF > Hangover, Ringo^
E: Puppet Strings^, Late In the Evening (Paul Simon)^
^ with Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret horns, including Jeff Coffin