There’s nothing quite like a hometown Umphrey’s McGee show… unless Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. This past July, Umphrey’s was in the middle of the first set of a performance at Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island when inclement weather forced the group to cancel their show, much to fans’ displeasure. Not one to leave a fan disgruntled, Umphrey’s McGee quickly made plans to reschedule, with the new date occurring this past Saturday, and the show was the definition of a hometown throw down.
Besides just making up the date, Umphrey’s McGee wanted to make their rescheduled performance special—Saturday’s show had three sets, including a show-opening acoustic set. For their fairly straightforward acoustic first set, Umphrey’s chose primarily songs that highlighted vocals and acoustic guitar work. With no Jazz Odyssey or jam to start the night, the group immediately began with “Nemo” that contained “Sweetness” sandwiched in. Pedal steel guitarist and longtime UM collaborator Mike Racky joined the band on stage for a couple of tunes like the rare “Memories of Home” and the 30db song, “Susanah.” They then covered Ween’s “Freedom of ‘76,” which saw excellent vocals from Brendan Bayliss. The only song of the set that featured some semblance of jamming was the set-closing “In the Kitchen,” but even that didn’t stray too far from the framework of the song.
A fairly ordinary version of dance party “Wappy Sprayberry” opened the second set, though the set didn’t fully start clicking until fan-favorite “JaJunk” appeared mid-set. “JaJunk” quickly started transcending the experimental plane and reached some serious levels of rock and roll. As with all things Umphrey’s McGee, they were able to slowly turn down the tempo and provide a segue as smooth as butter, morphing the jam into “Higgins.” The song was a beast and contained some of the best improvisation of the night. Metal Umphrey’s McGee dominated in “Remind Me” before returning to “JaJunk” to close the second set.
For the last set of the night, Umphrey’s McGee came out with “Divisions”, which was jammed through to “The Floor.” “Ringo” had some great jams that were highlights of the set, with the bunch of greasy animals eventually giving way to the e-drum intro of “The Triple Wide.” After a stellar rendition of “The Triple Wide”, the debut of a surprising cover of the Thompson Twins’ “Hold Me Now” popped up—a song that one may not know by name but would instantly recognize if heard—featuring Jake Cinninger on vocals on the song.
“Hold Me Now”
“Remind Me” > “JaJunk”
[Video: Kevin Higley]
Umphrey’s McGee then moved onto the ending of “Mantis”, finishing their rendition from the canceled July show during which they only performed the first half of the song. After the group finally brought closure to the song started two months ago, the third and final set of the night ended with a crushing, metal-heavy “Wizard Burial Ground,” which housed a great solo from bassist Ryan Stasik. Umphrey’s McGee encored with “Day Nurse” and the end of “Divisions” to call it a night.
You can check out photos from Umphrey’s McGee’s Saturday night show below, courtesy of Daniel Ojeda.
Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island | Chicago, IL | Sept. 23, 2017
Set 1: Nemo> Sweetness> Nemo, Upward, Gone for Good, Memories of Home, Susanah, Freedom of ’76, In The Kitchen
Set 2: Wappy Sprayberry > Crucial Taunt, Passing, JaJunk > Higgins, Make It Right, Remind Me > JaJunk
Set 3: Divisions > The Floor, Ringo > The Triple Wide > Mantis, Wizard Burial Ground
Encore: Day Nurse > Divisions