Review: The Umphrey’s McGee Variety Show

When people ask me what I want to hear, my usual response tends to be a couple of songs I’m still waiting to see live and something along the lines of ‘a fun cover.’ And they almost never fail to meet my expectations. Back in my ol’ Phish days I would analyze stats, look at previous setlists and try to predict what I would get to see the following night. I simply can’t do that anymore, it ruins my experience to try and get in the band’s mind and analyze their artistic compositions as a statistic. I know people enjoy doing this and that’s fine with me, but the over-analyzation of a musical experience has sort of lost its flair with me.

I knew the band would be performing a few of the tracks from Mantis and I was excited to see how they would come across live. The Thursday night performance started off with just that as they launched into Cemetery Walk I to get the crowd going. The first set continued to be solid with a nice Higgins > Kula > Higgins, a reworked Kat’s Tune and ended with a crowd pleasing Phil’s Farm/7 Nation Army/Money mashup. I must say I’m really happy to see the mashups still in action after their very successful Halloween debut last year.

The second set was without a doubt one of my favorite sets of Umphrey’s I’ve ever seen. You see I’ve been chasing Divisions, the song that initially got me into the band, for 30 shows. Yes, 30. I was really pleased when I heard the opening notes while in the line at the bar. The guy in front of me thought I was weird for screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs, but what else was I supposed to do? The dip into Utopian Fir was a pleasant surprise as was one of my other favorite songs, Wappy Sprayberry. It made the end of Divisions a little bit of a Chromeo-inspired dance party, but I was perfectly okay with that.

The next day started out right with a trip Fox Brother’s Bar-B-Q before the show with some friends. After a bite to eat and a trip back to the hotel we headed to the show. Things started off with a nod to the city of Atlanta with a huge Bright Lights, Big City to open the set. Push the Pig, one of my favorite songs lyrically, was a great selection for the middle of the set as was White Man’s Moccasins. The highlight of the set however was the performance of the bands new epic masterpiece – Mantis. I was a bit curious as to how they’d pull off the string section part from the album and they did it with grace. The seven minute mark of this song at the show (or the 6:30 minute mark on the album) is what gets me every time,  the song is like a mash-up of Guns N’ Roses and Pink Floyd.

The second set started out with The Floor, which is a song I’m still getting used to. The highlight of the weekend however goes to the Nothing Too Fancy > 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover > Glory segment. 50 Ways was my ‘fun cover’ of the evening and the Glory was the icing on the cake. Spires was performed quite well.  The band apparently took a trip to Fox’s BBQ as well and quite appropriately dedicated 40’s Theme to their food.

Overall, it was a great run. The night in Asheville was just as good and the Memphis show can’t come soon enough. This band is currently firing at all cylinders and I’m hopeful to see this trend continue through the rest of 2009.

Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, GA

SET 1   Jazz Oddysey* > Cemetary Walk, Eat > “Jimmy Stewart” > Nemo > Eat > Nemo, Higgins > Kula > Higgins, Kat’s Tune, Phil’s Farm / Seven Nation Army / Money

SET 2   Divisions > Utopian Fir > Turn & Run, Kimble, Rocker (part 2)** > Wappy Sprayberry > Divisions

ENCORE   Miss Tinkle’s Overture

* Umphrey’s took the stage performing along with a new original, played over the PA
** with Voices Inside My Head teases

Variety Playhouse
Atlanta, GA

SET 1   Jazz Oddysey* > Bright Lights > Push the Pig -> White Man’s Moccasins, Intentions Clear > Wife Soup, Preamble > Mantis

SET 2   The Floor, Nothing Too Fancy > 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover > Glory > Spires, Much Obliged > Hangover, Uncle Wally > Nothing Too Fancy

ENCORE   40’s Theme

* Umphrey’s took the stage performing along with a new original, played over the PA

More photos can be viewed here. Audio from both shows can be purchased here.

Related Content

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

New to Glide

Keep up-to-date with Glide