Summertime in Colorado is full of traditions, and for the fifth straight year, Umphrey’s McGee has played Red Rocks over the 4th of July holiday stretch. Bringing their unique brand of tight, in-your-face style to the legendary venue, celebrating UMerica on the Rocks has become one of our favorite new traditions. On Friday night, Umphrey’s returned to the venue for the second of three nights and certainly did not disappoint.

Kicking off the night’s festivities was electro-rock act Papadosio. It’s a tall order to come out in the daytime at Red Rocks and get the attention of a crowd that has yet to settle in. Despite the distracted nature of most of the people who were still bouncing around the rocks, finding friends and getting their drink on, Dosio turned more than a few heads and definitely got the crowd primed and ready for the main event.

After a solid night one performance that showcased the band’s dancier side, the UM faithful were ready to rock. The band wasted no time diving into the heavier side of their catalog and with songs like “Hurt Bird Bath” and “Phil’s Farm” highlighting the set.

No band in the scene has the ability to switch gears on a dime like Umphrey’s can. They seamlessly go from thrashy metal to pickin’ honky-tonk to bouncing dance grooves at will, often within the same song or jams. The classic, “Phil’s Farm”, was a prime example of this. As the band transitioned from the hardcore hoedown feel of the Farm into a lyrical “Jimmy Stewart”, their musical shapeshifting abilities were on full display.

After the trance fusion-inspired “Den” brought a bit of night one’s dance party flavor to the proceedings, the band once again dug into their bag of tricks. Over the years, mashups have become a staple of Umphrey’s McGee’s big shows, so it was no surprise to see one to close out the first set. “Come Closer” takes the iconic licks of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and entangles them with the raw, industrial grooves of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”. After bouncing back and forth between the two classics, the band faded out as the eerie piano riff that serves as Closer’s outro filled the air, providing a fitting end to an amazing set of music.

With the band opening their second set with some big-time Pink Floyd jams on night one, the band decided to ease into things on night two, opening their second set with two newer songs to the Umphrey’s catalog. “The Silent Type” and “It Doesn’t Matter” definitely had the crowd ready to let loose, and after a great version of “The Linear”, the band finally took things deep with “The Plunger”.

The dark and eerie vibes that came out of “The Plunger” set the table for some serious fireworks to come. The fan favorite “Higgins” lit that fuse and delivered what was probably the heaviest jam of the night. After firing up the crowd with “Higgins”, the band didn’t waste that energy, appropriately dedicating the last song of the set to America.

From the first drum beat and the opening lines of George Michael’s classic anthem “Freedom! 90”, it was obvious that Red Rocks was about to explode. The band belted out a ripping version of the cover that had the whole crowd singing along with their fists in the air. It was a perfect way to close out the night, and while the “1348” encore was nice, it was the George Michael cover that had people buzzing as fans exited the venue.

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 7/6/2018

Set 1: You Got the Wrong Guy > Similar Skin, Half Delayed > Hurt Bird Bath, Ride On Pony, Phil’s Farm[1], Den, Come Closer

Set 2: The Silent Type, It Doesn’t Matter > The Linear > Plunger, Higgins, Freedom! ’90

Encore: 1348

[1] “Jimmy Stewart” with lyrics