A Review: Umphrey's McGee 2.11.10
I knew from the moment I saw the Umphrey's South East Tour Dates for Winter of 2010 that I would be attending at least 3 shows and sure enough we made it happen. Last time I saw Umphrey's McGee was at Summer Camp this past Summer of 2009 and those shows left me drooling and wanting more. To say the least Myself & my three UM buddies were more than excited to be able to catch one of our favorite bands in our favorite South Eastern cities; Asheville, NC being the first stop on our mini-tour.
The show was at The Orange Peel; a venue located in the heart of downtown Asheville and somewhat of a second home to me. Umphrey's always makes their rounds at The Orange Peel and everyone is always more than stoked to see them come back around, this show was no different. The energy was very high and anticipation is always a son of a bitch, but after enjoying some good brews and good talks showtime was very near. The show started right around 9:15 with no opener; which is always an awesome thing.
First thing I noticed before the band started was that Jake Cinneger was not playing his normal guitar but playing the new Moog guitar. A real treat since the Moog factory is located in Asheville, NC. The band opened up with their titled track "Mantis" and wasted no time kicking things into gear by shredding their way through the new fan favorite and leaving the song unfinished and segueing into a more rocking but up-tempo version of "Push The Pig". By this time Waful was already taking over The Orange Peel's walls & rafters with his signature light schemes as the band entered into the night's first Jimmy Stewart during Push The Pig. Next up was the first "Liquid" of 2010 (last played 10/08/2009) that started off pretty routine & basic and turned it quickly into a fast pace guitar driven jam that eventually made an almost seamless landing into "Bottom Half" that soontwisted & turned into a beautiful jimmy stewart jam which took us all into more of an ambient space territory that really got the crowd moving and the energy began to rise even more. Blue Echo>Rocker pt. II was a nice combination; Blue Echo saw Jake utilizing the sustain on the new Moog guitar while Brendan filled in the gaps with Joel ripping it up on the organ. Soon enough the band pieced together a wonderful segue to Rocker pt. II. I thought Rocker was going to close out the set but a very big surprise when Farag's electronic drum pads kicked off to what sounded like it could be triple wide but was in fact one of the orginal mash-up's "Come Closer" a mix of "Come Together" The Beatles with NIN's "Closer. Very well blended together in my opinion and it's always a treat to hear Kris Myer's soulful voice behind the kit come out.
The band closed the 1st set with the mash-up and set-break for me involved enjoying the Orange Peel's new smoking deck which is more like a cage for smokers attached to the building; very crowded but it works. Grabbed a brew from the newly renovated bars at the Peel. For 2nd set I decided to step back into the crowd for a better view of Jefferson's light masterpiece's.
The guys wasted no time kicking things into high gear and turning on the heat with a "Hurt Bird Bath" opener. Starting off with a very spacey intro that featured Farag using some voice samples and kicking it off with the song's signature riff. Joel was really tearing it up on the Moog and Myers of course was all over the place on the kit. You could tell the difference from the Moog guitar sound also at times. During HBB it seemed Jake was sometimes not so comfortable with the new guitar but He still was killing it left & right. This version ended up clocking in at around 16 minutes, the band took the song for an orbit into space and eventually segued into "Intention Clears" which slowed things down for a second, but lead into a well constructed 2nd set Jimmy Stewart that was rooted off of the song's main riff. Jake broke into a funky ditty with the rest of the band following in his steps. Yet again, Joel tearing it up on the moog and laying down a wonderful pattern. Stasik of course laying down straight grooves all night and doing more slapping than I'm use to, which was awesome. The jam soon found it's way into a personal favorite of mine "Smell the Mitten" a song where Jake shows no mercy and tonight was no different. I had to re-assure myself after the song that my face was still hanging on. The band did a top notch version of "Resolution" to follow which is always a face rocker and gets the crowd going.
Highlight of the night for me was a monster version of "Utopian Fir" that might as well been called "Utopian Dance Party." The audience was taken on an 18 minute long space dance odyssey that gave Waful to perfect opportunity to show off his light show and that he did. Stasik lead the band with very heavy grooves and the moog sounds were very clear and distinct during the "Utopian Rave." Eventually the dance party segued into what was the last part of the "mantis" sandwich (they started off with mantis and left it unfinished) and they destroyed it with no questions asked, a very top notch version of the song. The anthem was a perfect ending to a jaw dropping show. Of course, being Umphrey's McGee they had to go out with a bang and a rare encore was in order and they delivered. They busted out "Senor Mouse" a Chick Corea classic that left some scartching their heads and others jumping up and down with excitement. Very well executed and left myself & everyone else walking out of The Orange Peel a very happy camper.
Asheville was the first stop on a 3 night run; next stop Charleston, SC...
-Scott Shrader (Snucka)
... To be continued...
Umphreys McGee Live at Orange Peel on February 11, 2010.