Back on April 24th, Umphrey’s McGee brought the worlds of music and sports closer together at the inaugural UMBowl at Lincoln Hall in Chicago. The Chicago-based sextet treated the crowd at the intimate venue to four separate “quarters” each with a different theme. I was in attendance and want to share 10 memorable moments from UMBowl for this week’s B List…
10. Dub Wife Soup
Q3 was all request. Well, all request, but the options were limited to a drop-down list of selections chosen by the band. But the options were quite good and the picks that got the most votes were for the most part the most deserving. Wife Soup has been in the repertoire since 2003 and has gone through a number of changes over the past couple of years. Most of the time the band has been ditching the tune’s originally jazzy intro and instead starting with the opening guitar licks. The song is often left unfinished in recent plays leading to free-form improvisation at the tail end where the second chorus would normally go. Another variation is at times they sing the a capella “album ending.”
At UMBowl not only did they perform a brand new “dub” version, but it was also nicely jammed out AND included the album ending. The casual UM fan maybe wouldn’t realize that the album ending was played, but those that would notice something like that were surely in attendance or at least paid to watch along on iClips.
[All photos by Tammy Wetzel except where noted]
READ ON for nine more memorable UMBowl moments…
I’m pretty sure Umphrey’s owes me some money. If you take a look back at the S2 9:30 Club Review you will see that “Brendan and Jake play each other’s rigs” was one of my texts that got put up on the screen. And this same concept was one of the choices in the Q4 “choose your own adventure” set. “Swappy” lead to some unique guitar work.
[Photo by DaveO]
8. Q2 S2
Q2, which most closely resembled one of the Stew Art events, was not without its hiccups. The band looked a little confused at times and the set was cut well short of its scheduled 60 minute run-time. It did however have some highlights. The mashup of Bathtub Gin & Juice is the closest UM has been to the third-rail-of-jamband-world (that would be a Phish cover) in a very long time. The mashup of UM original 13 Days and The Beatles’ A Day In The Life was also stellar.
7. The jam out of All In Time
Oh the night wasn’t all bustouts, debuts and gimmicks. There was some good ol’ fashion Umphrey’s McGee in there. After the fans voted for All In Time to open the 4th Quarter just minutes before the band took the stage, UM delivered with one of the straight musical highlights of the night with this jam that ultimately left All In Time unfinished.
6. Interstate Love Song
On a night when most in attendance – in general – knew what to expect (after all, two of the four sets were selected from a finite number of options) this was the biggest surprise of the night. One of the choices for the all request Q1 was “Mystery Cover” and this one came out of left field. Over their 12-year career I’m not sure the band has even teased a STP song – and they have teased and jammed a lot of shit over the years. As the crowd slowly figured out what tune it was, there was another roar when everyone realized that under-utilized-vocalist Jake Cinninger would be taking lead on this 1994 classic.
5. Red Room Disco
Red Room is a Cinninger tune that appears on the first disc of the B-Sides compilation The Bottom Half released in 2007. But what really became an instant fan-favorite was a track on disc two titled Red Room Disco that offered a glimpse into the band fucking around in the studio as they started mixing in aspects of The Rolling Stones’ Miss You while all poor Joel Cummins wanted to do was learn the chord changes.
This messing around quickly developed into a brief and humorous take on the “Disco” version of the song in the studio. The kids have been wanting to hear it for years and were elated when it appeared on the ballot for Q3. All that really existed of Red Room Disco before UMBowl was the verse and a half a chorus that appears on The Bottom Half. The band performed a full arrangement of the tune at UMBowl, it was well worth the wait.
4. The Videos
One of the extra touches that made this concert feel a little extra special were the videos produced by UM lighting designer Jeff Waful that introduced each quarter. Embedded below is the video featuring Brendan Bayliss. All of them are worth watching – for easy reference they are all listed here.
3. Muffburger I & II
Oh it’s a common tale. Band forms in college, band picks ridiculous name, frontman starts writing songs about vagina which was a big hit at the bars they played and then all of a sudden before they know it, they’ve gotten big and start re-examining some things they did.
Well, it’s too late to change the name of the band – that sucks – but they can always drop songs from their repertoire that they think they’ve progressed beyond. It happens with a lot of bands and UM is no exception, having dropped a number of their older originals like first-period French. But over the past couple of years, the band has been sucking it up and playing a number of the most requested originals including Baby Honey Sugar Darling and Mamu. Well, Muffburger Sandwhich AND Muff II: The Revenge were on the ballot for Q3 and the band played both of them showing little signs of rust or dust. I wouldn’t cross your fingers that you will see them again anytime soon though, but you never know.
2. Girlfriend Is Better
“New Talking Heads cover” was the choice for Q3 on the ballot. Of all the debuts to come out of UMBowl, this is the one that needs to stay in active rotation. They killed it and a dance party ensued.
1. The Weight Around
The Weight Around first appeared on the UM studio effort Safety In Numbers back in 2006. The song has made appearances at Brendan & Jake’s annual acoustic Holiday shows, 30db featuring Bayliss & Jeff Austin and even a Bayliss solo show – but it has never been played by Umphrey’s proper. The option in Q1 read “The Weight Around (full band)”.
They really worked this tune up for full band: the drums came in at the perfect spot, Cinninger bended the rules of an acoustic set by using his electric as a lap-slide and most importantly – four-part-vocals. This was the proper way to debut what is quite possibly the best song Bayliss has written.
Here’s a full gallery of Tammy Wetzel’s UMBowl photos: