Last night, Umphrey’s McGee finished up a quick four-night jaunt across the Southeast that ended in Knoxville’s Tennessee Theatre. The historic and opulent theatre housed a fantastic Umphrey’s McGee show, featuring a special guest collaboration with bassist Freekbass to close the first set with a Prince cover.
The Sunday night show opened up with the simple bass drum sample that signaled “The Triple Wide.” The rendition was straightforward and had some “The Floor” teases. An old-school “Anchor Drops” followed. The highlight of the set came in “KaBump.” The instrumental was played flawlessly, and the band immediately proceeded to jam out the song. Getting into a solid hip-hop groove, inspired by The Roots‘ “The Next Movement”, the Chicago rockers improvised until singer Brendan Bayliss stepped to the microphone and took the music out for a lyrical “Jimmy Stewart”. Eventually, they segued into “Intentions Clear,” which featured “Go To Hell” teases. For the last song of the set, bassist Ryan Stasik vacated his position on stage and ceded the low end to Freekbass, sharing duties for a solid “Controversy” cover of Prince.
“Controversy” with Freekbass
[Video: Brook Duncan]
The second set opened with just as much flair, leading with a “Nothing Too Fancy” that brought a reggae jam after the composed sections. During Jake Cinninger’s guitar solo in “Nothing Too Fancy”, it seemed as if the audience couldn’t have been cheering any louder. The place was raucous. A typical “Spires” followed. Bayliss again mentioned lighting director Jefferson Waful’s birthday from the day before, noting how the Tennessee Theatre was one of Waful’s favorite rooms, and it seemed like the lights had extra finesse all evening as a result.
“Canary in a Coalmine” was an interesting Police cover, with Brendan Bayliss and drummer Kris Myers nailing the vocals. Pearl Jam‘s “Release” was a welcome cover, marking its second play this year and the fourteenth total since 2002. The redeeming quality of “Whistle Kids” was that it featured a crafty (albeit short) segue into the raging “Nothing Too Fancy” reprise to close out the set. After a standard “Half Delayed” appeared in the encore, Cinniger began playing the guitar intro to the Led Zeppelin classic “Over the Hills and Far Away.” The crowd thought they were going to do the whole song, but right when the rest of the band normally kicks in, he gently began playing the guitar riff for “Glory”, and the epic UM rager ended the night.
With fans piling out of the theatre, random and loud cheers were emitted throughout the streets surrounding the Tennessee Theatre. Umphrey’s McGee rests for just a couple days before heading out to the last big jam band festival of the summer, LOCKN’ in Arrington, Virginia.
Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | Tennessee Theatre | Knoxville, TN | 8/19/18
Set 1: The Triple Wide > Anchor Drops, Red Tape, Kabump > Intentions Clear, Go to Hell, Controversy
Set 2: Nothing Too Fancy > Spires, Seasons, Comma Later > Canary in a Coalmine > Release, Whistle Kids > Nothing Too Fancy
Encore: Half Delayed > Glory
 with The Next Movement (The Roots) jam; also, “Jimmy Stewart” with lyrics
 with Freekbass replacing Ryan on bass
 with Over the Hills and Far Away (Led Zeppelin) jam