The members of Umphrey’s McGee and the Disco Biscuits share many common traits: freewheeling attitude, outstanding musicianship, a penchant for complex, proggy song structures, the ability to seamlessly segue between songs. In an appropriate pairing, they shared the stage on 8/15/07 at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn, New York, the Williamsburg venue created from the crumbling remains of a former community pool.
Opening with a languid “Prowler,” Umphrey’s turned in a decent performance—middling for them, but engaging nonetheless—highlighted by the “Plunger > “Jimmy Stewart” > Plunger,” the last part of which contained an amusing “Roundabout” tease. Though they touched on many of the qualities that make their shows so entertaining—the playful and precise dueling guitars of Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, tight interplay between bassist Ryan Stasik and drummer Kris Myers and soulful, technically sound playing from all members—they never completely locked in, seemingly content to amble through the (relatively) short 80-minute set.
The Biscuits delivered a more inspired, though still somewhat choppy, set, including a 35-minute “Spaga” sandwich, with “Abraxas” nestled in between—a stretch that produced the most fiery, aggressive jamming of the night, but that eventually gave way to repetition. After the toss-away ’80s staple “The Safety Dance” began the set in amiable-enough fashion, the Biscuits offered a paint-by-numbers take on “Trucker’s Choice,” then the aforementioned “Spaga,” followed by a long segue to finish: “Oname Wa > Crickets (middle section only) > Highwire > I Remember When.” The encore featured a new tune, “Woman at Home with Termites” [song title unconfirmed] and a quick run-through of the Ramones classic, “I Wanna Be Sedated.”
Ultimately, neither band brought their A game, but the Umphrey’s/Biscuits combination is always sturdy, and the unique outdoor venue and pleasant weather made the ticket price and journey to Hipsterville well worth it.
Photo by Adam Kaufman