At first I questioned why Umphrey’s McGee would be playing indoors at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC on an August night, especially when the beautiful and outdoor Uptown Amphitheater is right next door. UM management looked like geniuses it proceeded to rain heavily the entire night. But not one single fan was wet, because it was indoors, and not one single fan left unsatisfied, because Umphrey’s simply rocks.

UM played a solid show that opened up a brief tour through North Carolina and Florida. J Roddy Walston and the Business opened up the show. Not being similar in genres to Umphrey’s, they were nonetheless very entertaining and it was good to see the Umphreaks enjoy and embrace them. In fact it seemed most people came out early to enjoy their set as the venue was packed. Umphrey’s came on afterwards and immediately began rocking with a “Hindsight” opener. “In the Kitchen” followed and it contained some strong and danceable improvisation. Then they played “Room to Breathe”; for a song that normally doesn’t receive the treatment, it definitely was the highlight of the first set. Guitarist Jake Cinninger had a chance to display his chops on the song that rarely passes the five minute mark. It was definitely neat to see them do some extended jamming with this song. “Bad Friday” followed and continued in the same vein of improvisation, with an uptempo electro jam. The piercing sounds of keyboardist Joel Cummins were the highlight of the jams of this song. Standard versions of “#5”, “White Man’s Moccasins”, and “Puppet String” finished the set.

“Electro Jam > Bad Friday”:

[via R. Evan Price]

At some point in the duration of the first set guitarist Brendan Bayliss announced it was sound man Chris Mitchell’s five-year anniversary with the band, so he had the privilege of choosing the setlist for the show. The first set was executed well, and the second set had a couple of surprises. It opened with “Higgins” that featured a “Showdown” cover by Electric Light Orchestra. This was most certainly a surprise as it was the first time UM has covered the song,  and it sounded great. “Believe the Lie” was in fine form and paved the way for the real rocker: “Wizard Burial Ground”. The crowd erupted as the band began the opening notes. After the first part of the song, instead of going into the Joel-led piano-driven bridge they let the song slowly meander into “Night Nurse”. Not seeing WBG ever stray too much from show to show, this segue was really cool and really well done. The ended the set with a convincing “Bridgless” that couldn’t have rocked any harder. They encored with “Bright Lights Big City” before returning to the end of “Wizard Burial Ground”. For the fun setlist, we have Chris Mitchell to thank.   

It was a solid evening of rock-n-roll from Umphrey’s McGee. Everyone was all smiles, from the dude who had an UM tattoo on his ass to the members of TAUK who were at the concert to enjoy the music. Sufficiently warmed up, Umphrey’s continues their southeast tour with three more nights in Florida. You can webcast the shows via Tourgigs here.

– words and pictures Daniel Ojeda

Set 1: Hindsight, In the Kitchen, Room to Breathe, Bad Friday, #5, White Man’s Moccasins, Puppet String
Set 2: Higgins, Showdown, Higgins, Believe the Lie, Wizard Burial Ground, Night Nurse, Bridgeless
E: Bright Lights Big City, Wizard Burial Ground