On Saturday night, Umphrey’s McGee performed at a new concert venue in Chicago. Set right along Lake Michigan with an amazing view of the city as the backdrop, Umphrey’s delivered a stellar show for the hometown fans at Lakefront Green. Throughout the night the band members waved to the crowd, told stories about living in Lincoln Park, and delivered two strong sets.
The band opened up their first set with a new debut, “Punchable Face”, and smoothly transitioned into “Seasons.” “Words” came next with its mellow, almost serene sound. Between the setting sun to the west and the lake to the east, it was perfect for the mood. The band picked things up quickly with “Phil’s Farm”, which was played beautifully and segued into “Lenny.”
The great thing about Umphrey’s McGee playing in Chicago is that there is always a chance, a good chance, that a special guest might show. Saturday night was no exception. Mike Racky joined the band for “Hajimemashite” and “Push and Pull” on pedal steel. A moment of cuteness followed when one of Brendan Bayliss’ sons came out and shouted to the crowd, “Rock and Roll!” (Not to be outdone, his little brother came out and did the same thing later in the first set.)
After Racky left the stage, Umphrey’s launched into “Draconian”, which brought a bit more bite to the proceedings after a relatively, at least for an Umphrey’s show, mellow set. The crowd-favorite “40’s Theme” closed out the first set.
Nothing says Chicago like the Alan Parsons Project song “Sirius”, which is still used by the Chicago Bulls as their pregame music. Umphrey’s returned to the stage with the iconic song playing and powered into “The Silent Type.” The intensity stayed high with a great version of “Hurt Bird Bath.” Things slowed down, but only for a moment as the band brought it down for the opening buildup of “Ocean Billy”, which contained a quote of John Lennon’s classic “Imagine.”
A pretty straight forward version of “Attachments” from the it’s you LP provided a breather until the final push that ended the show. Following “Miss Tinkle’s Overture”, the band closed out their second set with “Remind Me” wrapping an exceptional set of Umphrey’s McGee. The two-guitar attack is always on display at an Umphrey’s show, but the improvisational jams in “Tinkle” and”Remind Me” really highlighted how well Bayliss and Jake Cinninger compliment one another. While it could potentially veer off into a heavy metal sound, it rarely does. Instead, it’s a very unique style that is the signature sound of Umphrey’s.
City curfew was creeping up and the band returned for a quick encore and birthday wishes for Bayliss. A lovely version of the Derek and the Dominos hit “Layla” was followed by a Chicago- centric version of “Gulf Stream” to close out a special night along the lake.
Umphrey’s McGee – “Layla”
[Video: Clinton Crites]
Keyboardist Joel Cummins started out the afternoon with a set mostly consisting of covers ranging from Pink Floyd to Miles Davis. It felt like someone decided to set up in the park and play a few tunes on a lovely afternoon. Cory Wong from Minneapolis brought his funk sound to Chicago to get the crowd ready for Umphrey’s McGee. Hopefully Lakefront Green gets a chance to host more shows. The location and the views of the city might make it the best outdoor venue in Chicago.
Check out a gallery of photos from last night’s show below courtesy of photographer Geoff Lesar.
Next up for Umphrey’s is a performance at St. Petersburg, FL’s Jannus Live on Thursday, August 15th. For a full list of the band’s upcoming tour dates, ticketing, and more information, head to Umphrey’s McGee’s website.
Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | Lakefront Green | Chicago, IL | 8/10/2019
Set One: Punchable Face > Seasons, Words > Phil’s Farm > Lenny, Hajimemashite, Push & Pull, Draconian > 40’s Theme
Set Two: The Silent Type, Hurt Bird Bath, Ocean Billy, Attachments, Miss Tinkle’s Overture, Remind Me
Encore: Layla > Gulf Stream
 debut, original
 with Mike Racky on pedal steel
 with Imagine (John Lennon) quote