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Jam Central Station 11.02.13: Umphrey's McGee - 10.23.13 - House of Blues - Cleveland, OH
Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 11.02.2013

Happy post-Halloween! Hope you got plenty of candy or some fun scares. I did a couple of haunted houses last week and then trick or treating with the boy, so gotta say it was a good time. And I caught Dopapod on Halloween as well, so 2 years in a row for a Halloween show! Hopefully you got to enjoy some live music too. Anyways, lets get on with the concert review!

Being a "jam band" means a lot more than just getting on stage and noodling for a couple of hours. To really put together a great show, a band needs to build a structure into their set before ever stepping on stage, and then listen and react to both the crowd and to where the music is going. It's a fine balance between structure and improvisation, and, depending on the crowd, it's always a bit of a moving target. With a band like Umphrey's McGee, with their extremely intricate songs as well as their ability to move into the heavier end of the musical spectrum, it's an even more difficult balance. At their recent Cleveland show, however, they demonstrated how they can take a few amazing jams, build some solid supporting improvisations around them as well as a few unexpected songs, and turn out an amazing show.

The band kicked things off in an extra funky way with "40's Theme," which, in just about 10 minutes, built from a dirty funk groove into an impressive dueling guitar jam. It was a song that really got the energy of the crowd up. Wednesday night is not the best night for a huge jam party, but Umphrey's wasn't letting up on the crowd one bit. An epic "2x2" followed, and at over 20 minutes really served as a cornerstone of the entire set. The band went through a few different sections in the jam, continuing to build things up in different ways, including a tease of Hall & Oates "I Can't Go For That." Just one of the fun little additions the band would add in throughout the night. There are jams that you want to listen to and analyze as they are going on and jams that you want to get lost in, and this one was a jam to get lost in. some solid keyboards, especially the ones layered in the middle part of the solo, a great groove in the pocket, and this was a jam that made it easy to close your eyes and let the music take you away. They followed up with "Turn and Dub," a nice come down from "2x2." They moved from the "dub" into a nice energetic jam to close the song that led directly into a nearly spot-on cover of Pink Floyd's "Time." They didn't stray from the original song and the crowd ate up the classic song.

"Rocker Pt. 2" amped things up again with a rising guitar solo intro into the song. It was another song meant to bring the energy back to the crowd, and there was plenty of fist raising and hippy head banging going on to show the crowd's appreciation for the music. They moved into a much more airy "Visions" and closed the set out with a funky "Bright Lights Big City." "Visions" was another easy jam to get lost in, and the band moved slowly and methodically from one section to another, and "Bright Lights Big City" was a solid way to close out the set. Neither songs were overly long or improvisational, but the segue between the two was solid and both were very tight.

The band opened up the second set with a bang by launching right into "Miss Tinkle's Overture." This is one of the songs where you can just watch the interplay between the guitarists and get blown away. Umphrey's doesn't have too many instrumentals, but the ones that they have tend to trend close to their progressive rock leanings, with multiple changes and various parts. Stasik also laid down some spectacular bass effects in the second half of the song, bringing in an electronic feel. They then went into a top notch pairing of "Booth Love" straight into "Go To Hell" with one of the best segues of the evening. "Booth Love" was a funky jam, another great one to close your eyes and just feel, and the natural transition into "Got To Hell" was impressive given the stark difference between the two songs. The heavy main riff for "Go To Hell" definitely appealed to the Cleveland crowd as well.

The band kept things going in a big way with a tremendous "August" with Bayliss and Jake each getting a huge solo opportunity. Along with "2x2" this was a main jam for the night. The band dropped down into a quiet jam after the first verse and each guitarist had a chance to build things up from there. Multiple "peaks" in the song highlighted the tremendous feel for improvisations that the band has. They kept the jamming with another improvisational song, "Sociable Jimmy." This one had a great feel to it and a solid mix of song vs. improvisation. It's definitely more of a "listen" song than a song to get lost in, but the band does both extremely well. They moved right from that into a fun cover of ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses." Nothing spectacular with this cover, and certainly not my favorite ZZ Top song, but it's one of those songs that everyone knows. Instead of a clean break they went directly into "Plunger" with "No Comment" sandwiched in the middle to close the second set. That basically meant that the second half of the set was a complete string with no breaks. They came back for an encore of "Divisions" which included a spectacular drum solo from Kris Myers. The percussion section of Myers and Farag didn't get as many opportunities to show off as the rest of the band throughout the show, but the solo at the end let Myers let loose for a bit and really impress the crowd, and the band dropped back into the song with no problem.

This was a home run show for Umphrey's. Tons of great jamming, a solid mix of songs, and a hot crowd made for an excellent night. It had a little something for every type of Umphrey's fan, and spectacular work by the whole band. This was definitely a show I was glad to come out and jam to, and hopefully I get the chance to see these guys again before too long.

No videos of the show that I could find, but here's some good recent Umph to check out!

Phish debut their new album
Phish took a detour for their Halloween show. Instead of performing an album from another band, they performed their complete yet to be recorded album Wingsuit in its entirety. It's yet another interesting choice for the band, and it breaks with their Halloween tradition. It will be interesting to see if the song selection and order remains the same once the recording process is complete.

Interlocking Music Festival announces 2014 dates
The Interlocking Music Festival (formerly Interlocken and Lockin') announced their 2014 dates. The festival will return to Arrington, VA and the event will be held from September 4-7. Good to see this fest confirm their return early!

moe. announce tour
moe. announced a short run of shows starting in January. This run is primarily an East Coast run of dates prior to their European tour in the spring of 2014.

January 24 New Brunswick, NJ—State Theatre
January 25 Baltimore, MD—Rams Head Live
January 26 York, PA—Strand Capitol
January 29 Charleston, SC—Music Farm (w/Jimmy Herring and the Ringers)
January 30 Charlotte, NC—The Fillmore (w/Jimmy Herring and the Ringers)
January 31 Nashville, TN—Marathon Music Works
February 1 Atlanta, GA—The Tabernacle
February 4 Raleigh, NC—Lincoln Theatre
February 5 Wilmington, DE—The Grand Opera House

Nicki Bluhm and The Gramplers tour

Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers announced their upcoming tour. They'll be making a run through clubs around the country in the new year in support of their self titled album.

January 23 Santa Barbara, CA—Soho
January 25 San Francisco, CA—The Fillmore
February 6 Tallahassee, FL—The Moon (w/JJ Grey & Mofro)
February 7 Athens, GA—Georgia Theatre (w/JJ Grey & Mofro)
February 8 Winston-Salen, NC—Ziggy's (w/JJ Grey & Mofro)
February 9 Durham, NC—Motorco
February 11 Washington, DC—Hamilton
February 12 Baltimore, MD—Rams Head Live (w/JJ Grey & Mofro)
February 13 Philadelphia, PA—Union Transfer (w/JJ Grey & Mofro)
February 14 New York, NY—Bowery Ballroom (w/Joe Pug)
February 15 Cambridge, MA—The Sinclair (w/Joe Pug)
February 16 Uncasville, CT—The Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun
February 18 Columbus, OH—Basement
February 21 Denver, CO—The Fillmore (w/JJ Grey & Mofro and Keller Williams)
February 25 Salt Lake City, UT—State Room
February 27 Portland, OR—Doug Fir Lounge
February 28 Portland, OR—Doug Fir Lounge
March 1 Seattle, WA—Neumos
March 3 Arcata, CA—Humbrews

October 31-November 2, 2013
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: 3 nights of String Cheese Incident, STS9, Big Gigantic, Emancipator, Conspirator, Steve Kimock & Friends, Future Rock, and many others.

Robello Cruise
November 1-5, 2013
Sailing out of Miami, FL
Performers include: Michael Franti & Spearhead, G. Love & Special Sauce, State Radio, Rebelution, Trevor Hall, and many others

Bear Creek Music Festival
November 14-17, 2013
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: The Roots, Bootsy Collins, Galactic, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Lettuce, The New Mastersounds, Zach Deputy, Toubab Krewe, The Motet, Break Science, and many others.

Strings & Sol
December 11-15, 2013
Puerto Morales, Mexico
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Keller & The McCoury's, and Greensky Bluegrass

Warren Haynes' Christmas Jam
December 13-14, 2013
US Cellular Center
Asheville, NC
Performers include: Gov't Mule, Phil Lesh Quintet, Aquarium Rescue Unit, michael Franti, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Keb Mo, OAR, and The John Scofield Uberjam Band.

Mayan Holidaze
December 16-20, 2013
Puerto Morales, Mexico
The event will feature three shows each from Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9, and will also feature Big Gigantic, Papadosio, Cherub, Orchard Lounge, and DrFameus.

Earth Night
December 20-21, 2013
Papadosio will headline both nights. Other artists include: Ott & The All Seeing I, Hundred Waters, Shigeto, and The Main Squeeze.

Jam Cruise
January 4-9, 2014
Miami, FL
Performers include: Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Bootsy Collins, Galactic, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, Keller Williams, Galactic, and many others.

One Big Holiday
January 26-30, 2014
Riviera Maya, Mexico
My Morning Jacket will be performing 4 nights at this event.

International Incident
February 19-23
Hard Rock Hotel, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Performers include: Multiple shows from the String Cheese Incident, EOTO< Kyle Holingsworth Band, The Motet, and Prophet Massive.

Jam in the Sand
February 28-March 4, 2014
Negril, Jamaica
Dark Star Orchestra will host the event. Other performers to be announced.

Panic en la Playa tres
March 17-21, 2014
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Widespread Panic will perform four shows during the event.

Suwannee Springfest
March 20-23, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush Band, Southern Soul Assembly, Donna the Buffalo, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others

Wanee Festival
April 10-12, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL

June 12-15, 2014
Manchester, TN

Catskill Chill
September 5-7, 2014
Camp Minglewood
Hancock, NY

Thanks again for stopping by. I'll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!


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