It may have felt like winter had wrapped around Chicago this past weekend, but there were no worries as Umphreaks descended on the city for UMBowl IX, the event’s first appearance in the Windy City since 2013. They knew with complete confidence that Umphrey’s McGee would bring the heat inside the Riviera Theatre, a venue the band hasn’t played since December 29th, 2016. The two-night event held November 11th and 12th would feature three sets per night, each with its own unique musical theme.

This special weekend would also feature, for the first time, an expert analysis panel brought to those who purchased the livestream on, thanks to the incredible team at Phierce Productions. Aired before the show each night and again after set two, the segments from DATC Media, hosted by Dropped Among This Crowd Podcast’s Sara J (that’s me!), with Josh Colky from Umphreaks Anonymous and Adam Scheinberg, Chief Technology Officer for Umphrey’s McGee, the trio brought the folks at home highlights, fun facts, and insider information as well as the energy and anticipation of the weekend, providing them an even more authentic feel of being there.

The weekend opened with the Umphrey’s McGee album Songs for Older Women played front to back, as selected by the fans with 30% of the vote. SFOW was recorded back in 1998 over two nights on November 13th and 14th at Madison Oyster Bar in South Bend, IN before guitarist Jake Cinninger and current drummer Kris Myers joined the band.

The first three songs of the disc, “Hangover”, “Der Bluten Kat”, and “2×2”, were given massive love, with the entire first set consisting of just those three songs preceded by the walkout tune “Gurgle”. This marked the first time we have seen a three-song set at an UMBowl. “Der Bluten Kat” was a massive, multi-dimensional highlight from the weekend that clocked in at over 30 minutes, causing many fans to talk about it after the show and remaining on everyone’s mind throughout the weekend.

Related: Umphrey’s McGee Announces ‘umXXV’ 25th Anniversary Tour

A Stew Art (S2) event came next, featuring live fan-driven improv determined in real-time via text message by fans at home and in attendance, the themes chosen were then projected onto a screen behind the band. Although S2 events have been a part of UMBowl since the inaugural year back in 2010, we have yet to see a submission become something that UM has kept a part of its regular repertoire.

Spanning a bevy of spectrums, genres, and decades throughout the set, Umphrey’s McGee invoked an array of thoughts, imagery, and feelings with each theme played. This year’s winning selections were “Sharknado”, “Boogie Nights”, “Falsetto Bayliss”, “Umphrey’s on Infected Mushrooms”, “Gospel McGee”, “666 McGee”, “Umphrey’s at the Green Mill”, “Ryan Reads Poetry”, “Egyptian Square Dancing”, “Darth Vader invades Jamaica”, “Country Jake”, “Moog Madness”, “Robots in Space”, genre-jumping with “Punk Glory”, and “UMBowl Viking Techno”.

Continuing with the Songs for Older Women disc, UM opened the third set with a 20-plus minute “Front Porch”, followed by “Thin Air”, “Much Obliged”, “Hajimemashite” and, “Muff II: The Revenge”. Umphrey’s rounded out the set with two rarities: “The Other Side of Things”, which has not been played in full since July 20th, 2001, and saw Jake join percussionist Andy Farag during the jam, and SFOW hidden track “Baby Honey Sugar Darlin'”, not seen since October 18th, 2018.

The evening would conclude with the debut of a tune from the band’s new album Asking for a Friend, “Ordinary Times”, and a cover of Tool’s “Forty-Six & Two” last played August 30th, 2019. Covered 12 times so far, this was the first to feature a guest, with Kanika Moore from Doom Flamingo on vocals.

Umphrey’s McGee, Kanika Moore – “Forty Six & Two” (Tool) – 11/11/22

[Video: DATC Media Company]

Night two began with the highly anticipated Raw Stewage set, not seen since UMBowl VII, May 6th, 2016, at Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas. Composed of past improvisational “Jimmy Stewarts”, again chosen by the fans, we were handed five brand-new songs that the band had just finished only a few days earlier. Past Raw Stewage sets have spawned songs such as “Draconian”, “Den”, “Make it Right”, and “Cut the Cable”.

For the first time, two of these tunes would feature studio outtakes from Jake’s Boondock Studio in Niles, MI. Although the future of these songs always remains to be seen, the band showed it was very comfortable with them already their first time out with 90% of the songs already composed, which speaks to the likelihood of these songs finding themselves in regular rotation. For a deeper dive into the history of Raw Stewage and this year’s contenders check out episode 209 of Dropped Among This Crowd Podcast.

This year’s songs:

“Wide Open” (featuring: “Steppin’ Razor” 7/2/11, “ETI” 5/5/07, “Higgins” 4/1/14)

“Exit Signs” (featuring: “Visions” 2/24/06, “Nemo” 10/25/14, “Kabump” 11/8/06)

“Things I’d Like to Lose” (featuring: “2×2” 2/4/11, “Mantis” 8/5/21, “Things I’d Like to Lose” – Boondock Studios 5/2011)

“Unevolved” (featuring: “Push the Pig” 7/23/17, “In the Kitchen” 11/1/12, “Dump City” 3/15/07, “Bridgeless” 4/14/07) This one clocked in at over 25 minutes, the longest Raw Stewage song played to date; “Onward and Upward” from 5/3/14 would come in second at a little over 24 minutes it’s first time played.

“Out of Focus” (featuring: “1348” 4/2/15, “1348” 5/27/07, “Great American” 10/18/13, “Blue Echo” 6/28/07, “Steppin’ Razor” 7/22/11, “Little Kids” – Boondock Studios 5/2014)

Umphrey’s McGee – “Unevolved” [Pro-Shot] – 11/12/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Out of Focus” [Pro-Shot] – 11/12/22

Another UMBowl first-timer, “Steppin’ Razor” would be used in two of these new tunes, “Wide Open” and “Out of Focus”.

Set two would consist of Choose your own Adventure, reminiscent of the books popular in the 1980s. The fans were once again given the reigns on this one, choosing what way the journey will go by voting via text message as the results are calculated and displayed in real-time on a screen behind the band. Anticipation built as the crowd and band anxiously waited for the next direction to be revealed.

The adventure unfolded with “Last Man Swerving”, followed by Asking For A Friends‘s “Small Strides” which got the entire venue entranced in an epic dance party. On the proceeding “Mirro Memories”, the band took a few moments to reminisce and honor original drummer Mike Mirro who passed away in 2014. The fan-guided voyage with then wind down with “Pay the Snucka”, the fourth-ever cover of the Grateful Dead‘s “Althea”, and a pairing of “Wappy Sprayberry” and “Slacker”.

Wrapping up the weekend was a final set of the band’s chosen tunes. Though they were Umphrey’s standards, this set was where the guys could loosen their ties and bask in the light of all the hard work they put into the weekend, with the demands of Raw Stewage and S2 behind them. This set would see “The Silent Type”, “Speak up”, “Bridgeless”,  “The Floor”, “Escape Goat”,  and the conclusion of “Bridgeless”

Brendan Bayliss and Jake took to a side balcony in the Riviera to start the encore, each on acoustic guitars for a cover of “Kielbasa” by Tenacious D, last played on April 4th, 2017, before sprinting back over to the stage to finish the song with the rest of the band. “The Triple Wide” would punctuate the weekend, allowing the fans one more dance party and another chance to witness the incredible work of Lighting Director Ben Factor, who absolutely slayed not only the lights throughout the two nights but also blew fans in attendance and at home away with his creative utilization of the video screen behind the band.

Check out a collection of fan-shot videos from UMBowl IX from Must Have Media.

Umphrey’s McGee – “Baby Honey Sugar Darlin'” – 11/11/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Ryan Reads Poetry” – 11/11/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Ordinary Times” – 11/11/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Althea” (Grateful Dead) – 11/12/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Slacker” (Ending) – 11/12/22

Umphrey’s McGee – “Kielbasa” (Tenacious D) – 11/12/22

View Videos

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | UMBowl IX | Riviera Theatre | Chicago, IL | 11/11/22

Set One: Gurgle > Hangover, Der Bluten Kat, 2×2

Set Two: Stew Art Event

Set Three: Front Porch[1], Thin Air, Much Obliged[2]-> Hajimemashite, Muff II: The Revenge, The Other Side of Things[3], Baby Honey Sugar Darlin’

Encore: Ordinary Times[4], Forty-Six & 2[5]

[1] with Resolution tease
[2] with In A Silent Way (Miles Davis) teases
[3] with Jake on percussion
[4] debut, original
[5] with Kanika Moore on vocals

Show Notes: first set was the first half of Songs For Older Women, an album selected by the fans

second set was a Stew Art event: Sharknado [with Jaws theme (John Williams) jam] > Boogie Nights > Falsetto Bayliss > Umphrey’s on infected mushrooms [with Front Port and 1348 teases] > Gospel McGee [with “Take It to Church” quotes] > 666 McGee > Umphrey’s at the Green Mill [with Kat’s Tune tease in intro] > Ryan Reads Poetry [with Ryan reading Front Porch lyrics, with Front Porch teases] > Egyptian Square Dancing > Dart Vader invades Jamaica [with Imperial March (John Williams) teases] > Country Jake > Moog Madness [with Jake on keys] > Robots in Space > Punk Rock Glory [Glory played in punk rock style], UMBowl Viking Techno [with Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin) quotes and teases]

third set completed Songs For Older Women

last The Other Side of Things 2014-11-08 (632 shows)
last Baby Honey Sugar Darlin’ 2018-10-18 (263 shows)

Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee | UMBowl IX | Riviera Theatre | Chicago, IL | 11/12/22

Set One: Wide Open[1], Exit Signs[1], Things I’d Like To Lose[1], Unevolved[1], Out of Focus[1]

Set Two: Last Man Swerving > Small Strides, “Mirro Memories”, Pay the Snucka, Althea, Wappy Sprayberry > Slacker

Set Three: The Silent Type, Speak Up > Bridgeless > The Floor, Escape Goat > Bridgeless

Encore: Kielbasa[2], The Triple Wide[3]

[1] debut, original
[2] with Brendan and Jake on acoustics from a balcony, before joining the band on stage (on electrics)
[3] with Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin) tease

Show Notes: first set was Raw Stewage, comprised of attendees’ votes for past “Jimmy Stewarts”: Wide Open [2011-07-02 Steppin’ Razor + 2007-05-05 E.T.I. + 2014-04-01 Higgins], Exit Signs [2006-02-24 Visions + 2014-10-25 Nemo + 2006-11-08 Kabump], Things I’d Like To Lose [2011-02-04 2×2 + 2021-08-05 Mantis + 2011-05 Things I’d Like To Lose], Unevolved [2017-07-23 Push the Pig + 2012-11-01 In The Kitchen + 2007-03-15 Dump City + 2007-04-14 Bridgeless], Out of Focus [2015-04-23 1348 + 2017-05-27 1348 + 2013-10-18 Great American + 2007-06-28 Blue Echo + 2011-07-02 Steppin’ Razor + 2014-05 Little Kids]

second set was “choose your own adventure,” with attendees voting for the next “adventure” live: August, White Man’s Moccasins, or Last Man Swerving; Asking For A Friend: Fenced In (JO), Small Strides (JO), or Always October (JO); Story Time: Leave Me Las Vegas Tales, Stasik Ambien Antics, or Mirro Memories; ’98—’01: The Fuzz, FF, or Pay the Snucka; Songs we wish we wrote: The Song Remains the Same, Where Is My Mind?, or Althea; Dance Yam: The Triple Wide >, Wappy Sprayberry >, Day Nurse (JO); Bayliss solo du jour: Slacker, 40’s Theme, or 2nd Self (JO)

third set was “Band’s Choice”

last Kielbasa 2017-03-04 (413 shows)