It was 25 years ago when Umphrey’s McGee played its first show at Bridget McGuire’s Filling Station in South Bend, IN (billed as Fat Tony). Over the past two-plus decades, the band has played over 2,500 shows all over the world to legions of fans.

To celebrate its silver anniversary, the band embarked on a two-night stand at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY (with an appetizer on January 19th at Brooklyn Bowl). This weekend marked the ninth time the band has played at The Cap, most recently raging the stage for the band’s UMBowl VIII event on October 8th and 9th 2021.

These two nights guaranteed to explode brains and melt faces and that’s exactly what happened. The band got the party started right away with new song,  “Small Strides”, keeping the momentum going with “Conduit” and “Day Nurse”. “FF”, played at UM’s first show, proved that band members were paying attention to what happened that first night back in 1998 while constructing the setlists they would unleash on fans over the two nights.

The pieces of the next tune “Mail Package” would haphazardly slink their way together before fully tumbling in conjunction. “It’s Not Your Fault” came next, the third time this Asking for a Friend tune would be played, it recently saw new treatment with Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret horns during the band’s New Year’s Eve run at the Coca-Cola Roxy in Atlanta, GA. The first set of the first night would end with a massive “JaJunk”.

A second set of straight fire kicked off with a meaty fan favorite “Front Porch” sandwich stuffed to the brim with “Resolution” inside—this jam-heavy adventure containing multiple twists and turns would clock in at a little over 30 minutes. The band would only spend a few minutes in the first part of the aforementioned “Front Porch” before diving headfirst into the meat of “Resolution”. This strong start to the second set would find a place on a lot of folks’ highlights list for the night as well as the weekend and stay on the minds of fans as they exited the venue that night. The second set rounded out with “The Linear” and “2nd Self” along with a huge helping of a 16-minute “Higgins”.

The first evening saw a three-song encore with Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss coming out to play acoustic guitars alongside keyboardist Joel Cummins. The trio debuted a gorgeous cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Helplessly Hoping” in honor of David Crosby who passed away on January 18th at the age of 81. Even on an already busy weekend with a carefully curtailed setlist, they took the time to not only learn a new cover but perfect harmonies to ensure this was a nicely done tribute to the folk icon. The full band then re-entered the chat for “Weight Around”, only to turn the mood from somber to rocking by ending the night with “The Floor”.

After the show, Ryan Stasik took late-night lingerers to heaven at Garcia’s with “Heaven Help Us” featuring Doom Flamingo keyboardist Ross Bogan, and guitarist Thomas Kenney, South Carolina drummer Jonathan Peace, and more for an evening with a heaven-themed setlist.

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 1/20/23

Set One: Small Strides, Conduit > Day Nurse[1], FF-> Mail Package[2], It’s Not Your Fault > JaJunk[3]

Set Two: Front Porch > Resolution > Front Porch, The Linear > 2nd Self, Higgins

Encore:Helplessly Hoping[4], The Weight Around[5] > The Floor

[1] with Workin’ Day and Night (Michael Jackson) teases
[2] with Miss Tinkle’s Overture tease
[3] with Top Gun Anthem (Harold Faltermeyer) tease
[4] debut, Crosby, Stills, & Nash; just Brendan and Jake on acoustics and vocals, along with Joel on vocals
[5] with Brendan on acoustic

Show Notes:with Closing Time (Semisonic) quote from Brendan before Helplessly Hoping

Helplessly Hoping played in remembrance of David Crosby

Setlist: Just Like Heaven | Garcia’s | Port Chester, NY | 1/20/23

Set: Haven (Talking Heads) [1], Heaven (Bryan Adams) [2], Heaven (Warrant) [3], Heaven Beside You (Alice In Chains) [4], Heaven (Los Lonely Boys) [5], Can I Take My Hounds To Heaven? (Tyler Childers) [6], Just Like Heaven (The Cure) [7], Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan) [8], The Cisco Kid (War) [9], Pusher Man (Curtis Mayfield) [9]

[1] w/ Brendan Bayliss

[2] w/Joel Cummins

[3] w/Larkin Bogan

[4] w/Ross Bogan

[5] w/Alex Baily from Eggy

[6] w/Sam Sutton

[7] w/Mike Gantzer

[8] w/Everyone

[9] Instrumental

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For those fans who purchased a package through the band’s UMVip program, Saturday began with a pre-party performance by the dynamic duo “Hartliss”, comprised of Brendan Bayliss and Jen Hartswick, at Garcia’s. Along with a two-hour open bar with local Italian catering and a screening of a umXXV retrospective, fans were treated to a set filled with tons of banter and jokes, typical of when these two get together.

Setlist: Hartliss | Garcia’s | Port Chester, NY | 1/21/23

Set: Jolene (Dolly Parton), Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith), Valerie (The Zutons), 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon), You’re No Good (Dee Dee Warwick), Under African Skies (Paul Simon), What a Fool Believes (Doobie Brothers), Angel from Montgomery (John Prine), Bell Bottom Blues (Derek & The Dominos), Careless Whisper (George Michael), Kielbasa Sausage (Tenacious D)

Click To View Setlist

Night two would reveal itself as a “Bridgeless” sandwich, with the line “You’ll be reminded of why you’re here” taking on new meaning. Abandoning the opening song and moving along to “13 days” from the band’s 2004 Anchor Drops album, the song took flight for the first time since before the pandemic on February 26th, 2020 at Midtown Ballroom in Bend, OR, per All Things Umphrey’s.

“Escape Goat” followed, with the Asking for a Friend track continuing to reveal itself as a new favorite for the band and fans alike in the six months since its debut. Its impossible not to marvel at how it has grown from its conception by a fan alongside Brendan Bayliss during the depths of the COVID 19 pandemic back in 2020. “White Man Moccasins” came next prior to a set-ending “Unevolved”, the second time this would be played since coming out during the raw stew set at Umbowl IX on November 12th.

Before set two, Relix editor and Capitol Theatre owner Pete Shapiro along with Gary Dell’Abate a.k.a Bababooey (executive producer for Howard Stern since 1984) would present the band with a cake and lead the audience in singing “Happy Birthday”.  The show continued with “Wappy Sprayberry”, followed by another Asking for a Friend tune, “Pure Saturation”.

Up next came “Dear Lord”, last played during the band’s homecoming show at The Morris Civic Center in South Bend, IN on November 14th, 2021. This tune invoked tears among those in attendance and at home. Fun fact, this song was played at keyboardist Joel Cummins’ first public performance on November 2nd, 1997, at Annenberg Auditorium – The Snite Museum of Art in Notre Dame, IN. That evening would be the first time the four original members of Umphrey’s McGee would perform together.

The show rolled on with “The Other Side of Things”, found on the band’s 1999 album Songs for Older Women recently dusted off after eight years at UMBowl IX on November 11th. That album was recorded prior to Jake Cinninger and drummer Kris Myers joining the band over a two night stand on November 13th and 14th 1998 at Madison Oyster Bar in South Bend, just months after the addition of percussionist Andy Farag.

Jake would join Farag and Myers for “Drums” before the next song, “Puppet String”. A jaunty solo by Cinninger arrived before the band erupted into “Divisions”, another song played at that first show 25 years ago. Jen Hartswick joined for the remainder of the set, with Brendan and Jake on acoustics and Jen on vocals for “Bullhead City”.

“1000 Places to See Before You Die” with Jen on trumpet came next, only performed 11 times total. Hartswick has played trumpet only one other time on this tune, back on May 6th, 2016 at UMBowl VII. Umphrey’s McGee ended the set with a cover of Queen & David Bowie’s “Under Pressure”, the second time the band has covered this—both times featuring Jen on vocals and first introduced last summer at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on June 17th.

The encore would give fans one more opportunity to dance with “Den”. To complement the moment, lighting director Ben Factor painted the walls of The Cap with artist Jen Stark‘s visuals. The conclusion of “Bridgeless” would bring the evening to a close.

As the band took a bow at the end of the evening there was an overwhelming sense of gratitude from the six members, crew, and fans alike. It has been an incredible adventure for everyone over the past quarter century. Over the course of the two nights, the band took fans on a journey spanning its entire career, playing tunes debuted at its first show all the way to its most recent album, including one of the recently penned songs from the raw stew set at UMBowl IX. Umphrey’s proved that the band has only gotten better with age and is showing no signs of slowing down. Judging by the way the band has been playing in 2023, we have yet to ever witness its best.

With a little gas left in his tank, Ryan Stasik would take it to hell with his band Death Kings again at Garcia’s—along with guitarist Mike Gantzer (Aqueous) and drummer Jonathan Peace, the power trio would be joined by Jen Hartswick and lespecial bassist Luke Bemand.

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 1/21/23

Set 1: Bridgeless > 13 Days, Escape Goat-> White Man’s Moccasins > Unevolved

Set 2: Wappy Sprayberry > Pure Saturation > Dear Lord > The Other Side of Things > Drums[1], Puppet String, Jam[2] > Divisions, Bullhead City[3], 1000 Places to See Before You Die[4], Under Pressure[5]

Encore: Den > Bridgeless

[1] with Jake on percussion
[2] just Jake
[3] with Jennifer Hartswick on vocals, and Brendan and Jake on acoustics
[4] with Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet
[5] with Jennifer Hartswick on vocals

Show Notes: Before set two, venue owner Pete Shapiro and radio personality Gary Dell’Abate presented the band with a cake and led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” for the band

Setlist: Death Kings | Garcia’s | Port Chester, NY | 1/21/23

Set: Welcome to Hell [1], Fight, Cyco Vision (Suicidal Tendencies), Longview (Green Day), Welcome to Paradise (Green Day), March of the Kings, Aerials (System of a Down), Flagpole Sitta (Harvey Danger), Breed (Nirvana), I Wanna Be Your Dog (The Stooges), 96 Quite Bitter Beings (CKY) [2], Twist of Cain (Danzig), Disembodied

[1] w/ Jennifer Hartswick

[2] w/ Luke Bemand

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | The Capitol Theatre | Port Chester, NY | 1/20/23

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For a complete in-depth recap of Umphrey’s McGee 25th anniversary weekend, check out Dropped Among This Crowd Podcast episode 217 coming soon!

Umphrey’s McGee – “Small Strides” [Pro-Shot] – 1/20/23

Umphrey’s McGee – “Front Porch” > “Resolution” [Pro-Shot] – 1/20/23

Umphrey’s McGee – “Bridgeless” > “13 Days” [Pro-Shot] – 1/21/23

Umphrey’s McGee – “Wappy Sprayberry” > “Pure Saturation” [Pro-Shot] – 1/21/23

Umphrey’s McGee – “Divisions” – 1/21/23

[Video: aershko]

Umphrey’s McGee, Jennifer Hartswick – “Under Pressure” (Queen & David Bowie) – 1/21/23

[Video: aershko]

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