Umphrey’s McGee – Brooklyn Bowl – Williamsburg, NY – 1/20/13
After an enormous night at The Beacon Theatre and a road trip up to Providence, Umphrey’s McGee returned to New York for a semi-intimate Brooklyn Bowl performance last Sunday for their official 15th birthday bash. The hype for this show was crazy and these tickets sold out in seconds. To accommodate all the fans that for whatever reasons could not attend, Umphrey’s broadcast this show on umlive.net and SiriusXM’s Jam_ON station. Luckily, as with most fans, I have had plenty of practice acquiring tickets between Phish NYE, Summer Camp late nights, and the other events we all know sell out faster then they are posted. Although this show was the worst kept secret of the initial tour, when it was finally officially announced even those who had known about it all along were ecstatic. On Sunday, as my friends and I ran down the cold streets of Williamsburg, we all had smiles waiting for the inevitable facemelting we were in for, the tasty Brooklyn Blast pale ale, and the fried chicken – of course.
“There’s No Crying In Mexico” started the show off and went right into “Wife Soup”, a song the crowd always enjoys and I hadn’t heard since their 4-night run in Brooklyn. After a quick shout-out to Brendan’s baby boy watching over the webcast the band went into “Spires”; this particular version was so tight and had some trippy jamming. After a pretty standard “Room To Breathe” featuring some great shredding by Jake, the jazzy side of the band came out as they played “Anchor Drops” and Jake and Kris really killed it. “Hajimemashite” rocked the bowl and set us up to go into a super jammy “Blue Echo” that fans won’t soon forget. “Comma Later” was a real dance party and went into “Bright Lights, Big City” featuring a bit of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” by Michael Jackson which continued that vibe into the end of set one.
Second set began with a huge “Bridgeless” that was full of jams, which made many in the crowd extremely happy considering the first set was a little more standard. Slowing down with “End of the Road” you couldn’t help but smile and enjoy the great show that was taking place before our very eyes. Perhaps the biggest dance party of the night; “Wizard Burial Ground” showed me this was going to be a serious set. At this point I really noticed how packed the room was, and how much energy the crowd was exerting was really something. “August” is one of those songs where I can’t help but sing along and stare at the lights; again, they really killed this one tonight.
At their first show fifteen years ago, Umphrey’s opened with a song called “Bob”. As the story goes, about eight seconds in the venue lost power and since then the band has said they would never play it again. Well, on Sunday we also got those eight seconds as a teaser….bastards! After the show I dug up a full version, it’s worth a listen and could have been cool in its entirety at the show. The next song was a great cover of Toto’s “Africa”, a Live for Live Music and personal favorite. After the rains, an excellently electric and jammed out “The Triple Wide” was played, that at times I got lost in and had an epic drum solo; towards the end we got a really great verse of Modest Mouse’s “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes” and at the outro a teaser of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, easily making this the jam of the night. The boys ended the second set with a great “All In Time>Dear Lord>All In Time” sandwich.
Brooklyn Bowl’s owner, Pete Shapiro, came out with a cake and had the venue sing Happy Birthday to the band. In a funny moment of the night, Brendan had to tell a fan to let the “Bob” teaser go and his life would be easier. The encore started with a funky cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Groove Holmes”, a song I hadn’t heard before but would love to see explored by the band more in the future. They finished “Bridgeless” following this, making it a highlight of the night for many. The boys decided that they were going to do just one more song, and gave us one last cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years.”
It’s almost impossible to put into words how much fun this show was. Though the second set was the clear winner, the “Spires” and “Blue Echo” in set one should not be overlooked. I feel lucky that Umphrey’s chose New York City to celebrate their 15th Birthday and even luckier that I was able to attend. As Brendan said earlier in the show, “We made it, we’re at the fucking bowling alley”. Thank you to everyone who made this weekend possible, I hope we can do it again soon.
By Jeffrey Moskovic
Set I: No Cryin’ in Mexico> Wife Soup, Spires> Room 2 Breathe, Anchor Drops> Hajimemashite->Blue Echo> Comma Later> Bright Lights> Wanna Be Startin’ Somthin’ Jam> Bright Lights
Set II: Bridgeless> End of the Road, Wizard Burial Ground, August, Bob*, Africa>The Triple Wide**^, All In Time>Dear Lord>All In Time
Encore: Groove Holmes%>Bridgeless
2nd Encore: Reelin’ in the Years$
* For 8 Seconds
** w/ Tiny Cities Made of Ashes lyrics by Modest Mouse
^ Don’t Fear The Reaper Tease in the Outro
% Beastie Boys
$ Steely Dan
Check out a video from the show of an “All In Time” jam: