A Review: Umphrey's McGee 2.13.10

Pulling a beer from the cooler, I swung into the parking lot of the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte, NC and found the lot scene a bit sparse. It seemed to consist almost entirely of a small group of huddled around a table supporting a few glass pieces and a grill. Pulling forward, though, I realized that these were no ordinary lot kids, but fellow Roanokers who had made the three-hour trek from Virginia earlier in the day.

We were waved along and found a spot across from our fellow statesmen (whom we had incidentally planned to meet at the venue anyway) and, after cracking brews and exchanging greetings, my girlfriend Lacey and I walked around to the front of the building to retrieve our tickets from the “Will Call” table. Every breath resembled smoke as we hoofed around the corner and I noticed an obvious buzz of excitement about the front of the building and even more going on inside. I was excited too, as I had not seen Umphrey’s since November at the 9:30 Club; the first of their two night stand there (I missed the second show for the second night of Phish’s Cincinnati run).

After killing about two hours and twice as many drinks, our group made our way back around to the entrance of the building. As we stood waiting to be ID’d and admitted, an employee closed of the metal railing to the ticket line:

“You’re the last one, man!” he said, catching the lucky guy off-guard.

“Really? I got the last ticket? Sweet! Tonight’s gonna be a good night!”

Indeed it was.

The opening band, Tiny Lights, put on an impressive show, especially considering the daunting combination of a short set and a restless crowd getting drunker by the minute. I enjoyed their set, sans view, from the floor in front of the main stage where I met Scott, an acquaintance from JamBase. Shortly after Tiny Lights retired, the main floor began filling up. Bathed in pale blue stage lights, we waited.

Just as Scott and I parted ways, agreeing to meet at set break, Star Wars’ “Imperial Death March” boomed over the audience and the band took the stage. Awaiting the first notes, I silently hoped for “Get in the Van,” one of my favorite UM tunes and always a solid opener. Moments later, the band popped off the first breaking notes of “Van” and the crowd erupted (to which Jake responded with his trademark, “WHAT?!”).

As expected, both the band and audience raged through “Van,” a fact that was noticed by Brendan who, upon ending the song, immediately proclaimed: “Daaaammmn. You guys are not fucking around tonight! Good... excellent.” He went on to say that the show was a 21st birthday party for a friend of the band, making this a special evening. The energy shifted (but was by no means lost) through “August” and climbed from “Plunger (w/ Jimmy Stewart)” into a “Fussy Dutchman/Keefer” sandwich, “Morning Song,” and climaxed with “1348;” at which time I turned around for the first time and saw the entire house, packed and soused to the gills. I slowly meandered my way through the now impermeable crowd back to the bar to wait out setbreak. I tried to take note of high points of the set, but attempts were futile as the entire set delivered nothing but nasty jams.

Finding a spot on a bench along the edge of the seating area, Lacey and I gave our feet a break while waiting for the band to return. Not surprisingly, we lost every other member of our party and were unable to locate Scott among the bustle. The band opened the second set with “Robot World>Uncommon,” the former lacking the explosive impact of the “Van” opener, but a solid combination nonetheless.

The set picked up and was quickly in full swing after the guys launched into another one of my favorites, “Der Bluten Kat.” A surprise “You Know What I Mean” (Jeff Beck) showed up through the “Kat” jam, adding to the uniqueness of the show. Although the second set was not as driving as the first, the band was clearly very comfortable, jamming and transitioning very smoothly. Comfortable enough, in fact, to debut a new song: “Conduit,” which was received well. Brendan even mentioned how well the song was received, which was, he said, better that most debuts. From there, the band broke out another cover, “Can’t You See” by Marshall Tucker Band. I’ve always enjoyed Umphrey’s renditions of classic/southern rock songs, and this time was no different.

I was happy to hear “Wappy Sprayberry” as the set neared its end, a song that Scott had called earlier in the evening, just before the band took the stage. The band jammed out of “Sprayberry” into yet another favorite of mine, “Thin Air,” cementing this setlist as a personal classic. It was almost as if they knew what I wanted to hear...

After a short encore break, “Soul Food I>Words” rounded out the evening appropriately. The now mellowed crowd stumbled out onto the streets of Charlotte; some making their way to local bars to continue the party while others, such as myself, sauntered back to our vehicles to make the long trip home. At least I had my collection of UM podcasts for the ride.

-Billy Beheler aka Hydrogen

Umphreys McGee Live at Neighborhood Theatre on February 13, 2010.

Umphrey’s McGee
Neighborhood Theater, Charlotte, NC

Set I: Get in the Van, August, Plunger > "Jimmy Stewart" > Plunger, The Fussy Dutchman > Keefer > The Fussy Dutchman, Morning Song, 1348 > "Jimmy Stewart" > 1348

Set II: Robot World > Uncommon, Der Bluten Kat > You Know What I Mean > Der Bluten Kat, Conduit*, Can't You See, Wappy Sprayberry > Thin Air

E: Soul Food I > Words

*First time played, original


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