Umphrey’s McGee | 04.05.08

umphrey-s_mcgee_ss1.jpg

When the band took the stage at The Pageant to the delight of a full house of clearly die-hard fans, my first and most dominant impression was the absolutely mad guitar skills of both Bayliss and Jake Cinninger. 

 

 

 

The Pageant, St. Louis 

For years now, I have had numerous friends tell me that I really needed to go see Chicago-based jam band Umphrey’s McGee when they came to town – which has been fairly often over the past five years or so. But it seemed like every time the band paid a visit to St. Louis, I was out of town or had prior commitments; it just wasn’t meant to be. I finally got my chance to experience Umphrey’s up close and personal last Saturday night at The Pageant, and I was not disappointed. 

I’d become somewhat familiar with Umphrey’s McGee (formed inthe late 90s in South Bend, Ind.) from frequent airplay of live cuts on my XM Satellite radio as well as their most recently released double-live CD, Live at the Murat, when a promo copy landed in my lap last fall. The CD (given a four star review in Rolling Stone) quickly became one of my favorites, going into heavy rotation in my car player. Umphrey’s has most of the qualities I like in many of my favorite jam bands (they remind me most of moe.), yet something very special all its own. For me, it seems to stem from their astounding musicianship and sheer versatility – moving quickly from slow, melodic jams toheavy-hitting guitar solos. There is also something simple and yet perfect about founder Brendan Bayliss’ lead vocals.

When the band took the stage at The Pageant to the delight of a full house of clearly die-hard fans, my first and most dominant impression was the absolutely mad guitar skills of both Bayliss and Jake Cinninger. Cinninger’s amazing finger speed and strong solos were featured heavily throughout the two-set performance. His style and speed resemble Eddie VanHalen at times and he brings a distinct heavy "edge" to the band’s signature"jammy" sound. And jam they do – so much so that it’s a show perhaps only true jam band aficionados can appreciate. My companion for the evening made the comment that she was averaging one beer per song, which would seem like a lot if the songs weren’t each around 30 minutes long.

In addition to the spotlight guitar riffs, the rest of the band, including keyboardist Joel Cummins, bassist Ryan Stasik, drummer Kris Myers and percussionist Andy Farag brought their best game, literally working the appreciative crowd into a frenzy. The band concluded a jam-packed first set that included favorites like "White Man’s Moccasins" and the guitar-heavy "Padgett’s Profile," with a strong rendition of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Little Wing," their first time covering the song.

After a brief break (during which the majority of the crowd adjourned outside for a smoke – it was a non-smoking show), Umphrey’s kicked off a killer second set with their masterpiece "In the Kitchen," bookending another favorite, "Higgins," once again showcasing Cinninger on guitar. As another first-time cover, the band did an awesome version of the Soundgarden hit, "Black Hole Sun," featuring drummer Myers on vocals (he actually sounded alot like Chris Cornell) before closing out the set with the funk-inspired "40s Theme."

Overall, this was a highly entertaining and energetic show,made all the more fun by the unique connection Umphrey’s McGee seems to have with its fan base. And in typical, modern jam band fashion, fans can download this and other recent shows online at www.umlive.net.| Amy Burger

 

Complete Set List:

Set One –

Resolution >

White Man’s Moccasins

Morning Song

Much Obliged >

Padgett’s Profile

Little Wing

 

Set Two –

In the Kitchen >

Higgins >

In the Kitchen

Out of Order >

Gulf Stream

Black Hole Sun

40’s Theme

 

E: JaJunk

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply