Umphrey's McGee 2006-11-17 The Tabernacle Atlanta, GA (Download)
A few years back when I first moved to Worcester and Dave and I were roommates, he was nice enough to give me a year's subscription to Relix for my birthday (thanks Dave!). I remember getting my first month's issue (December '04) which had a cover story about a band I'd heard of only in passing. The magazine had decided to make the audacious claim that this band could be the next Phish. Surely, I thought, this was a ploy to boost sales by inciting Phish fanatics worldwide to buy all copies in order to burn them. A magazine catering to the jam band crowd couldn't possibly have the balls to talk about replacing the irreplaceable, especially when the figurative body wasn't even warm yet...Right?!?
Well, that band was Umphrey's McGee. While I will not start Live Band War I by giving full creedence to this claim, I will say that they've developed a touring regimen, technical ability, and friendliness to the concept of freely distributable live music that at least makes this a debate worth having. As I write this, the band is booked as virtually solid through August as they have been for most of the past six years, and in addition to the more traditional taper mediums they've also reached out to the iPod and iTunes savvy with a podcast that features full shows divided into 1 hour segments. It's one I never allow myself to miss and I can't recommend it enough if you like the band. The band has a ton to offer technically, these are all guys who can play virtually anywhere in the musical spectrum. The repertoire of music that they can cover is also exhaustive, in this performance alone there are teases or full covers of Blue Oyster Cult, Depeche Mode, Marilyn Manson, and Kiss. They've also covered Radiohead, the Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Steely Dan, Snoop Dogg, and many more. Pretty impressive stuff.
Speaking of jam bands and musical diversity...Umphrey's really does manage to reach beyond the boundaries of that title. Or, perhaps what they do is offer more evidence that there really are no boundaries in this "genre" which is where, rightly or wrongly, bands that aren't easily classified and play great extended live sets wind up getting put. Neither Dave nor I have ever tagged a show "jam", and I personally do not intend to. I don't have any huge beef with the term, but I don't ever know what to expect when I see it and therefore I don't think it has much of a place in how I classify music.
patchcord.com's Derek Martin: The term “jamband” often gets thrown around when you guys are talked about, while other people point to more prog rock influences. Do you think either of these terms clearly defines you or is it more of a mesh of the two?
Ryan Stasik of Umphrey's Mcgee: I think it’s definitely a mix of the two. We just went on tour with the band OHM, and they’re definitely a progressive rock band; they are definitely fusion and they’ve got the chops and odd meter and no vocals. We also had Kick The Cat, our drummer’s old band, and that’s definitely fusion. I don’t think we tend to sound like that for the people who label us “prog rock,” although we definitely vibe on that a little bit, and “jamband” is so vague and so big. We’re really proud to be part of the scene and everything that’s going on with the festivals and the music and we’re kind of trying to find our own niche that’s between those. It’s like saying you’re a rock ‘n roll band, that’s a huge range, you go from AC/DC to Guns N’ Roses: both rock and roll, but very differently. I think we’re a little bit of everything.
This show offers new listeners a taste of the epic that is a UM live show, and will not disappoint the already converted. It's also helpful that The Tabernacle is where many a great show is played and recorded. Something about the venue lends itself very well to the artists and performances that get talked around for years to come. Some personal favorites in this set are "In the Kitchen", "Ringo", "Words", and their encore of Kiss cover "God Gave Rock n' Roll to You". It's a longer and thoroughly satisfying show, in full it was:
Set One: Got Your Milk Right Here, Push the Pig, Walletsworth>Nothing Too Fancy>Thin Air^, In the Kitchen@, The Bottom Half
Set Two: Power to Love, Ringo>"Jimmy Stewart", Words>, Nothing too Fancy#, Morning Song, Mulche's Odyssey*
Encore: 2nd Self, Dirty Love>God Gave Rock & Roll To You**
Notes: Outformation opened
^ with Sam Holt (Outformation) on guitar, @ with Brendan and Jake on acoustics, # with Don't Fear the Reaper tease, * with Pesonal Jesus (Depeche Mode) and Beautiful People (Marilyn Manson) verse, ** first time played, Kiss; the band left the stage one by one, leaving only Joel
Sound quality is an A-, it's about as good as it gets when it's not from the soundboard. Taping and transfer credit goes to Dennis Taylor, danke schön Dennis! Photo credit to Ben Garmisa Photography.