It was a dark day. I say that not only because it was literally a sun-less tailgate in the Jones Beach parking lot, but also because I lost my front tooth while biting into a panini during said tailgate. The tooth was actually a ceramic cap that covered up my real tooth, which fell out originally during a freak pogo stick accident at the ripe age of 13. It was humiliating. My friends had a field day with it. I made the best of it by drunk-yelling “WIIIIDESPREEEAAAD” at innocent passerby’s.
If there’s one place you want to lose your front tooth, it’s at a jam show. I wore my otherwise humiliating distinguishment with great pride, kind of like how some people wear horse masks or dreadlocks. I smiled extra large for the friends I saw just to make sure they noticed it. Most asked me about it and some pretended like they didn’t see it. I was conducting human subjects research, I guess you could say.
After a few shots of tequila, I could really give a rat’s ass about the tooth. Rising jam quartet TAUK kicked things off with a solid set, jamming instrumental Beatles and Zeppelin tunes towards the end for the few early birds who caught the set. With upcoming slots on Electric Forest, All Good, and Peach Music Fest, we’ll be seeing plenty of them this summer.
Umphrey’s McGee followed up with a set that was dominated by their funky prog-metal sound. “Puppet Strings” opened things up as attendees filed in. The band, who has seemingly been exploding in popularity over the past 5 years, was firing on all cylinders. An hour and fifteen minutes is, plain and simple, not quite enough time for Umphrey’s to do their thing, but they turned in a fine performance anyhow, including a “Ringo,” “No Diablo,” and “40s Theme” in the latter half of the set. Although the amphitheater was maybe a quarter full, everyone was grooving to the music and the cool ocean breeze.
Umphrey’s Mcgee Setlist 6/20/2015 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NYPuppet String > Robot World (w/ Stewart) > Hourglass > Ringo > All in Time > No Diablo > 40s theme
By the time Widespread Panic came on, the amphitheater had filled up a little bit more, but nothing like the tales of Phish insanity that I had heard going in to last night’s show. Ultimately the weather forecast must have kept a solid portion of ticket-holders at home. The show had been advertising tickets anywhere from $10-$30 in recent weeks, so there was obviously some trouble selling them as it was. An 80% chance of rain and gray skies isn’t exactly alluring for those who were on the fence, and even though it didn’t really rain at all, the sparse crowd was relatively chill.
That didn’t keep Panic from delivering a good performance though. I found myself singing “Stop Breaking Down Blues” and thinking about my missing tooth and problematic car battery. “Ohh baby pleease stop breaking down,” I sang with my gapped smile.
“Bears Gone Fishin'” really opened things up for the band, and wizard guitarist Jimmy Herring ripped that one into a new dimension. That track segued into “I’m Not Alone” which went into “Sleeping Man” before the sextet dove into a couple of newer songs, “Cease Fire” and “Honky Red.” Funkadelic’s “Red Hot Mama” closed things out by bringing out Joel Cummins, Jake Cinninger, and Andy Farag from Umphrey’s McGee.
It was a solid jam, but without another hard-hitting crowd-pleaser or time for an encore, it felt like the set fell just a little short, or at least it did in comparison to the Wanee and King’s Theatre sets I was fortunate enough to see over the past couple months. Nevertheless, it was an uncharacteristically intimate opportunity to see a couple of jam titans alongside an exciting up-and-comer. Even with a tooth missing, it was a goddamn ball.
Widespread Panic’s Setlist 6/20/2015 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NYPigeons, Diner > Stop Breaking Down Blues, Worry, Bears Gone Fishin’ > I’m Not Alone > Sleeping Man, Visiting Day > Cease Fire > Honky Red, Red Hot Mama** with Joel Cummins on keys, Jake Cinninger on guitar, Andy Farag on percussion