Review: Umphrey’s @ Northern Lights

Set two started with the band acknowledging the crowd’s Parliament-esque “We want the Umph, gotta have that Umph” chant. That alone speaks volumes about the type of band Umphrey’s is: funky, yes, but also a band that values its fans. Higgins veered off into some strange territory before segueing into a cover of The Police’s Walking On The Moon, a well-chosen song that shares a similar reggae backbone as Higgins.

Believe the Lie was another bright spot in the second set. Umphrey’s put on an impressive display of layering a jam, with each member throwing something on the table and seeing if it sticks on stage. It may start with a bass line from Stasik or a guitar lick from Jake or Bayliss. In some cases, Joel led the way with a piano riff.

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A blunt shake of the head or nod of approval – not to be confused with the array of other signals the band uses – determines if a riff or rhythm will be stick. Next, hand signals kick in and the song becomes volatile and may change key on the drop of a dime. Then, just as the crowd gets comfortable, Kris Myers kicks it into double time and the final product is revealed, often a dynamic dual-rhythm played by Jake and Bayliss with the rest of the band backing them up.

The way Believe the Lie builds up into the outro refrain is a natural fit to cap off a set. The massive 15 minute JaJunk encore brought down the house and perhaps the Dollar General as well, a fitting end to a show that had no shortage of energy.

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Maybe Umphrey’s likes Northern Lights because of its reputation as a metal club (Insane Clown Posse and GWAR are on the schedule), but that’s left to speculation. In any case, the sparse Tuesday night crowd was treated to one hell of a rock show from one of the best in the business.

Set 1: 2×2 > Robot World > Anchor Drops, #5 > Passing, Bright Lights > Glory

Set 2:
 Jazz Odyssey > Higgins Part I > Walking On the Moon > Higgins, Atmosfarag > August, Professor Wormbog > Believe the Lie
Encore: JaJunk

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