Umphrey's McGee 7.4.14
Words By J. Picard
It was just another 4th of July in Colorado, unless you had tickets to Umphrey's McGee's sold out show at Boulder Theater! The line, comprised of Umphrey's fans from around the country, wrapped around the block past the band's bus. For many, the search was on and fierce for a "golden ticket." For those who could not swing it, The Lazy Dog, just around the corner, was streaming the evening's affair. Inside of Boulder Theater bar lines reached four deep, while the bartenders moved swiftly and efficiently to meet the high demand. With no opener on the bill, the band promptly took the stage and began with a short and intense "Gurgle" that went right into a "Der Bluten Kat" that featured an array of quick changes and ample shredding. The band stopped mid way for Brendan Bayliss to communicate "Ladies and gentleman, before we continue taking this room into the stratosphere, we need to make sure you guys are ready." The capacity crowd erupted and the band continued before transitioning into a "Kabump" that noodled and built to its exercised potential. Umphrey's then dropped back into "Der Bluten Kat" to complete a diverse and energetic forty minute run to open the show!
Umphreys McGee Live at Boulder Theatre on July 4, 2014.
Set One: Gurgle > Der Bluten Kat > Kabump > Der Bluten Kat, Booth Love, Hourglass, Professor Wormbog, America the Beautiful, Great American -> Baby You're A Rich Man > Great American
Set Two: Phil's Farm > The Triple Wide > Drums > Phil's Farm, The Linear > Utopian Fir > Prowler > Similar Skin, The Floor
Encore: Mad Love, Mulche's Odyssey
 Ryan solo
 with Bela Fleck on banjo
 with Bela Fleck on banjo; with America the Beautiful tease
 with Michael Travis on percussion
 with Bertha (Grateful Dead) tease
"Happy Birthday, America," Bayliss called out.
"Booth Love" appeared next with a certain subtlety that began to expand with furious notation from Jake Cinninger and his guitar. Sound vocals lead to some fantastic synth tones from Joel Cummins, triggering a complete ground assault to the close. The crowd began chanting "USA, USA, USA..."
"Oh God, that's beautiful. How about we try this; If I say 'America,' you say 'fuck yeah.'" America.." to which the crowd responded, "fuck yeah!"
The newer "Hourglass" followed, with the intensity growing for a brief three and a half minutes. Up next was "Professor Wormbog," featuring a cool accapella section that was followed by "America The Beautiful" solo from Ryan Stasik on bass.
"God bless America and God bless you. Tonight people we got a good friend of our's in the house, a very special guest. He's the second best banjo player in the world. His name is Bela Fleck." Bayliss said nonchalantly.
The Boulder crowd went absolutely wild. There was a sense of disbelief that quickly subsided with Bela's first notes on "Great American." It was an incredible surprise from left field. The focus of the show shifted to Bela and Jake, who began tossing notes back and forth at a rapid pace, before transitioning into The Beatles' "Baby You're A Rich Man." The band went back into "Great American" to close the first set with Bela aboard the craft.
"That's Bela Fleck, everybody. We're taking a short break. Stay patriotic out there," Bayliss exclaimed.
The second set began with "Phil Farm," to the delight of the patient and fortunate crowd. Rockabilly turned to shred and returned, then transitioned into "Triple Wide," per Kris Myers and Andy Farag's cue. Boulder Theater transformed into a dance party with the lighting of Jefferson Waffle taking center stage with near unmatched prominence on the lighting front. Michael Travis (The String Cheese Incident, EOTO) made an appearance for a "Drums" that transitioned back into "Phil's Farm." "The Linear" featured Bayliss at the vocal helm and Jake quick to follow with an unbelievable amount of guitar, mellowing to head into "Utopian Fir." In the middle of the jam, the band jumped into a disjointed tease of The Grateful Dead's "Bertha," quickly returning to their expected riffs. The composition provided an enjoyable amount of space that made for some pretty creative moments over the course of fifteen minutes. The band transitioned into "prowler," picking up the tempo a touch for Joel to take over on keys for the mid section before shred ensued and Umphrey's headed into the title track off of their newest album, "Similar Skin."
"God bless you, Boulder and God bless America. Thank you so much." Bayliss said as the band exited the stage.
The crowd once again chanted "USA, USA, USA..." as Umphrey's returned and began the first of their two encores with a straight forward "Mad Love." The more extensive and energetic "Mulche's Odyssey" seemed a much more fitting conclusion to an incredible evening of heavy output from one of the live music scene's true juggernauts. The night provided an above and beyond type of experience for a select group of lucky fans! On the eve of the band's first Red Rocks sell out, the energy inside of Boulder Theater was thick and palatable and the band was at the continuous and ongoing peak of their career...