Photos by Scott Harris
It seems as if Chicago band Umphrey’s McGee just can’t be stopped right now. The sextet released not one, but two pretty awesome albums this year, and they continue to shred the theater circuit on a nightly basis, packing rooms to the brim to showcase their incredible genre scope all packaged up the nicest, neatest box imaginable. Last night at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY was an absolute heater, from the first notes of “The Floor” opener to the “Bridgeless” reprise in the encore.
Umphrey’s McGee have insane control of their vehicle. If jamming is like Nascar, these guys somehow go around the track as fast as possible without ever peeling out or crashing. They make it look effortless, almost too easy, as they weave between virtuosic guitar metal, then folk, then dance beats, then 90’s leaning alt-rock, then funk, then prog-jazz-rock, then a Beatles cover…it would be dizzying if not for the precision that puts them in a class of their own amongst their contemporaries.
“The Floor” is a hell of a way to start a show. The Death By Stereo cut is intense and brooding, wasting no time in rocking the hell out of the packed out, beautiful Capitol Theatre. From there they went into “Draconian”, which gave guitarist Jake Cinninger additional room to spread his wings before climaxing into Brendan Bayliss’ vocal refrain.
As the set continues, improvisation moves through its various stages: grooves culminate and dissipate in such a way that is completely their own. And then you have the other side of the spectrum when more singer-songwriter material comes to the forefront, like on “You & You Alone”. “Bridgeless” segued into “Hajimemashite” before inviting members of opening band Southern Avenue out to do “Come Together” by The Beatles.
Second set began with the first chords of “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac before segueing into “The Triple Wide”. The band would also touch on A Flock of Seagulls “I Ran” and ZZ Top’s “La Grange” over the course of the set, igniting that feel of a bar band that made it to the big leagues. Weaving around their brief experiments with the classics were Umphrey’s staples like “Plunger” and “Ocean Billy”, both of which were taken for a ride.
For the encore, the 2007-debuted “Kula” came out for the third time all year before the band ended “Bridgeless” in absolutely epic fashion. The shredding notes rang as things came to a conclusion of Umphrey’s two-set, 3+ hour escapade at The Capitol Theatre. It was glorious.
As a New Yorker, I was super pleased when I woke up to the news that Umphrey’s McGee has announced three shows at Brooklyn Steel in February, taking their yearly winter NYC play over to Brooklyn and into a much smaller room than the Beacon Theatre, where it’s been fairly often. Brooklyn Steel is an 1800-capacity general admission venue that should work wonderfully with Umphrey’s McGee big, rocking sound. Never thought I’d say this in October, but I can’t wait for February!
Tickets for those shows, and the rest of the newly announced dates, go on pre-sale this Wednesday and regular sale on Friday.
Umphrey’s McGee Live at The Capitol Theatre 10/14/2018 Setlist
Set One: The Floor Draconian (>) Mulche’s Odyssey The Pequod You & You Alone Bridgeless (>) Hajimemashite Come Together (The Beatles cover) (with Tierinii Jackson on Vocals and Ori Naftaly on guitar)
Set Two: The Triple Wide (>) Seasons Plunger What We Could Get I Ran (A Flock of Seagulls cover) Resolution (>) La Grange (ZZ Top cover) (>) Ocean Billy
Encore: Kula (>) Bridgeless
UMPHREY’S MCGEE TOUR DATES 2018-2019:
October 18 Urbana, IL @ The Canopy Clup October 19 St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre October 20 St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre October 26 Charleston, SC @ Charleston Pour House December 12 Puerto Morelos, MX @ Holidaze 2018 December 13 Puerto Morelos, MX @ Holidaze 2018 December 14 Puerto Morelos, MX @ Holidaze 2018 December 15 Puerto Morelos, MX @ Holidaze 2018 December 16 Puerto Morelos, MX @ Holidaze 2018 December 28 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle December 29 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle December 30 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle December 31 Atlanta, GA @ The Tabernacle January 11 Richmond, VA @ The National January 12 Richmond, VA @ The National January 15 Caribbean @ Jam Cruise 17 January 16 Caribbean @ Jam Cruise 17 January 18 Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre % January 19 Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theatre % January 25 Milwaukee, WI @ The Riverside Theater * January 26 Milwaukee, WI @ The Riverside Theater * January 31 New Haven, CT @ College Street Music Hall ^ February 1 Albany, NY @ Palace Theatre ^ February 2 Portland, ME @ State Theatre ^ February 14 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel February 15 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel February 16 Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel February 21 Ft. Wayne, IN @ The Clyde Theatre ~ February 22 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore + February 23 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore +
KEY: % Big Something * The Marcus King Band ^ Robert Walter’s 20th Congress ~ Moser Woods + Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics