Umphrey's McGee 1.13 - 1.15.17
Words By Julie Hutchins (Tipping Point Designs)
Photos By Coleman Schwartz Media
It is no surprise, post show Umphrey’s McGee discussion groups are debating whether Atlanta’s 3-Night Tabernacle homestay trumps the recent NYE run. The unique setlists, song bust-outs, and high energy certainly made this weekend a contender for my all time favorite shows. The Tabernacle has been a humble abode to Midwesterners, Umphrey’s McGee 18 times. UM is no stranger in taking souls straight to church through passage of the fiery depths of hell.
Friday, January 13:
Never miss a full moon Friday the 13th Umphrey’s McGee show. A first set “Morning Song” happily soared into a staggeringly massive “FF.” The reggae song structure was abandoned for a dark and dissonant Arabian jam. As the improv dropped off, ascending chords subtly lead into a glorious and unexpected “Last Man Swerving.” “LMS” had not been played in 175 shows and was the perfect uplifting instrumental breather before darkness prevailed. A reoccurring ATL favorite, “2X2” is a beast of breakdowns and punchy rock chords. However tonight, the band ventured off into a twangy western stew. Then, no warning or hesitation at all, “Wizard Burial Ground” melted the loud speakers. Guitarists Brendan Bayliss’ and Jake Cinninger’s double bass and Pantera-esque harmonies made me grit my teeth and flare my nostrils with rage. Head banging and mean-mugging Umphreaks shook the entire cathedral. The metal trend continued with a terrifyingly slow and dark, but rare “Sludge & Death.” I’ve seen UM over 40 times and I was extremely pleased with the unique song variety and thematic rage elements of the first set.
A massive “DBK” > “Sociable Jimmy” > “DBK” sandwich set the second set off to a groovy start. First cover tune of the night, Mark Knopfler’s “We’re Going to War” was a gracious third bust out of the evening. Jake’s slide guitar and jazz feels transitioned into an upbeat and cerebral “Out of Order.” Next, a solid tease filled “40’s Theme” and “Miami Virtue” fueled the non-stop dance party. Full of bold rock and soul funk, Jimi Hendrix’s “Power of Soul” closed the second set. It is nearly impossible to escape “Divisions” at an UM show. However, UM went above and beyond to slay “Divisions” and added in a little more Jimi to the mix.
Umphreys McGee Live at The Tabernacle on 1.13.17
Set One: Bathing Digits > Bad Friday, Morning Song, FF > Last Man Swerving > 2x2, Wizard Burial Ground > Sludge & Death
Set Two: Der Bluten Kat > Sociable Jimmy > Der Bluten Kat, We're Going to War -> Out Of Order > 40's Theme, Miami Virtue > Power of Soul
 with I Keep Forgettin' (Michael McDonald) teases
 with Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin) tease
 with Third Stone from the Sun (Jimi Hendrix) teases
Coleman's Friday Photo Gallery
Saturday, January 14:
Umphrey’s was definitely aware of the itch to groove. A “Similar Skin” opener wasted no time in getting down in the muddy funk. The groove moved in-between jazz improv and a retro, wah pedal jam reminiscent of “Sneakin’ Salley Through the Alley.” Pure bliss was released as the improv transitioned back into the rock heavy “Similar Skin.” Next Ryan Stasik’s smooth bass tones began the industrial sized funky “Wappy Sprayberry.” Coleman informed me that all the photographers in the pit took a break during this song to dance uninhibited. After, classic sing-along, “Hajimameshite” shined through for a brief reprieve. Next, “Attachments” grounded everyone again into true rock and roll riffs. I’ve always been a fan of UM lyrics, and “Attachments” has really grown on me. “While we wait, don't get so attached / You're only here for a moment, and you know that it won't last / And while your days give it back to you / Don't be so ungrateful if you know you'll never use it at all.” The contemplative “Attachments” lead into a tasty “Deeper” featuring Cinninger on keys. Keyworld Wizard Joel Cummins and Cinninger lead an epic intergalactic synth jam. “Miss Tinkles Overture” finished out the set with the vigor of Friday’s rage and I am reminded again that Cummins’ keys need a volume increase in the mix.
Solidifying Saturday night as a disco theme, Umphrey’s stacked us with a full set of scrumptious sandwiches. To open, UM whetted our appetites with a toasty "Plunger" sandwich. A seamless transition into “Triple Wide” and LD Jeff Waful’s revolving streams of light spearheaded the infinite dance loop. As the groove slowed and quieted to a close, “The Linear” emerged from the soft space. The intensity grew and Bayliss crooned, “Back to the moment, and digging deep enough this time / You forget about your future at your past expense / You know life is only living in the present tense” and the music exploded before it tapered off back into quietness. But just as the last note echoed, “Push the Pig,” another iconic Hauntlanta song choice, boomed through the air. Cummins’ synth action held it down while drummers Kris Myers and Andy Farag kept the polyrhythms flowing. All that pig talk must have stirred up the sextet’s appetite for another sandwich. A standard “Hurt Bird Bath” intro transitioned into a funky “Full Frontal” and returned to HBB to finale the hour-long segues. “Piranhas” followed and Tool’s “Forty-Six & Two” busted out of the 200 show vault to close the set. “Puppet String” encore lead a beautiful chanting audience and was the cherry on top to a phenomenal night of music and dancing.
Umphreys McGee Live at The Tabernacle on 1.14.17
Set Two: Plunger > Glory > Plunger, The Triple Wide > The Linear > Push the Pig > Hurt Bird Bath > Full Frontal > Hurt Bird Bath, Piranhas, Forty-Six & Two
Encore: Puppet String
 with Jake on keys
 with 25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago) tease
 with Soul Food II tease
Coleman's Saturday Photo Gallery
Sunday January 15:
When I arrived on lot for the final round of umph, spirits were high as ever. As we marched to the doors I heard someone say, “I wish it were more than 3 nights.” “I wish Umphrey’s could play 9 more nights!” Those poor souls must have missed out on the 5-night run. Having survived that experience, I must say, 5 nights is a lot of Umphrey’s. I think 3 nights is the perfect dose.
“Bright Lights, Big City” woke up the sleeping giant dancer in everyone. ATL was lucky to receive a unique continuation of compositions as “Cemetery Walk” flowed seamlessly into “Cemetery Walk 2.” I cannot insist enough - turn Cummins up! Atlanta received their first “The Song Remains the Same” and the Zeppelin cover was excellent. “1348” began the final delectable sandwich of the run. Bayliss’ and Cinninger’s shredding harmonies picked up the energy and flowed into a quintessential “In the Kitchen.” “In The Kitchen” only made a short appearance and was aborted for a rip-roaring “Higgins” that crescendo’d into the ultimate breakdown of head-banger, “1348.” After a raucous round of applause and huge thanks to the crowd and crew, UM encored with a swagalicious “Pay the Snucka.” Jake flew through his rapid solo shred and Waful shined the disco strobe lights for one last face melt.
A revival at the Tabernacle was far over due for Atlanta. I praise the Tabernacle, but personally I’d love to see Umphrey’s move into the Fox Theatre. I am astounded at the intention and energy put into providing strong first set song choices, impeccable improvisations, and bust outs galore every night. I do wish we could have received a mash-up or two – but there’s always something to keep chasing. Thanks for reading and being a part of the experience!
Umphreys McGee Live at The Tabernacle on 1.15.17
Set Two: Bright Lights, Big City, Cemetery Walk > Cemetery Walk II, The Song Remains the Same, 1348 > In The Kitchen > Higgins > 1348
Encore: Pay the Snucka
 with The Spirit of Radio (Rush) tease
Coleman's Sunday Photo Gallery