Umphrey’s McGee returned to Chicago’s Park West this evening for their third annual UMBowl interactive concert. The marathon show – it started at 8 p.m. local time and ran until 1:22 a.m. – was geared towards the most rabid UM fans. Each of the football-themed performance’s four “quarters” were driven by fan interaction. UMBowl III featured an exciting new wrinkle, that was executed flawlessly, in which the band revisited eight classic improvisational segments during the last quarter.
For the first set, which was an “All-Request Quarter,” the fans chose the instrumental pairing of Flamethrower > Night Nurse > Voyager, marking the fourth UM performance of the latter, a Daft Punk cover. Fan-favorite original Front Porch was next followed by Comma Later, the band’s choice for the “UM original debut” option voted on by the audience in the pre-show balloting. From there, Umphrey’s embarked on their first version of the Grateful Dead’s Help on The Way since March 4, 2000 which led into the GD instrumental Slipknot! – a song which was on the shelf even longer (last played – June 18, 1999). Instead of embarking on the traditional Franklin’s Tower to close to the song suite, Umphrey’s debuted their version of 46&2 by Tool, a group bassist Ryan Stasik once pointed to as his favorite band. Q2 contained a “Stew Art Event” in which Umphrey’s interpreted fans’ tweets such as “Middle Eastern Metal,” “Hip Hop Tribute,” “Afternoon Bus Ride In Jamaica” and the transcendent “Soaring Uplifting Jam Part 2.”
(8:01 CST) Quarter One: Flamethrower > Night Nurse > Voyager > Front Porch, Comma Later*, Help On The Way > Slipknot!, 46&2** (8:55)
(9:19) Quarter Two: Afternoon Nurse > Funk Our Face Off! > Middle Eastern Metal > Drum n Bass > Soaring Uplifting Jam Part 2 > Afternoon Bus Ride In Jamaica$ > Increasing Tempo Jam > Yacht Rock Jam$$ > Hip Hop Tribute% > Take Us To The Disco Tech (10:09)
(10:35) Quarter Three: All In Time > Glory > The Linear, August%%& > Bridgeless, Preamble > Mantis%% > Making Flippy Floppy > Nothing Too Fancy&& (11:30)
(12:05) Quarter Four: Mulche’s Odyssey 10/20/07 > The Haunt 06/10/06 > Bright Lights 02/11/11 > Intentions Clear 03/03/11, The Triple Wide 12/11/04 > Nemo 04/08/05, Groove Holmes 11/02/06 > In The Kitchen 01/22/09 (1:03)
(1:08) Overtime: Divisions (1:22)
* first time played, original
** first time played, Tool
$ with 4/1/03 Example 1 jam
$$ with Breezin’ jam
% with Tribute To the Spinal Shaft, I Keep Forgettin’, Xxplosive, and Gz and Huslatz teases
& with Lay Down Sally jam
&& ending only
Quarter One: All Request
Quarter Two: Stew Art Event
Quarter Three: Choose Your Own Adventure
Quarter Four: Raw Stewage
last Help On The Way 03/04/00
last Slipknot! 06/18/99
[via Shpongled of The Bort]
The audience was given a big role in Q3, the “Choose Your Own Adventure Quarter,” as at various points during the set multiple options for the direction Umphrey’s would take the performance were displayed on screens for fans to vote on via text. For instance, during the All In Time opener, fans were given the choice of the song seguing into Glory, Much Obliged or Resolution and Glory won out. In other vote-driven moments, the audience decided Umphrey’s should play August instead of 40’s Theme and Puppet Strings as well as picked Mantis over 1348 and Nothing Too Fancy.
In between the third and the fourth quarter, Umphrey’s announced that they will bring their annual mashup-laden Halloween celebration to Milwaukee this year for performances at the Riverside Theater on October 26 and 27.
Coming into UMBowl the most anticipated part of the evening was Q4, the “Raw Stewage Quarter,” in which the band would weave together the top vote-getters from a list of past “Jimmy Stewart” improvisational passages distributed to attendees before the show. Before the set started Stasik talked about how much work the band put into meshing the jams into one cohesive set of music. The hard work showed as the group reeled off one historic passage after another with unyielding precision and grace to create an extremely impressive set. After 57 minutes of recreating their most highly regarded “Jimmy Stewart”s, Umphrey’s took the In The Kitchen jam from Mayan Holidaze ’11 into the ending the of the song with its timely line about “wasting time on the internet.”
For “Overtime” the sextet delivered a short-and-to-the-point take on Divisions, one of their earliest originals. On a night in which the band honored their fans’ desires by revisiting past glories, it was a fitting choice.