If you’ve been keeping up, I’m not much for being on time, but this was a special occasion. The opportunity had finally arrived to catch TAUK, a rock fusion instrumental outfit that caught my attention a few years back with their album Homunculus. Typical for an Umphrey’s McGee showing, the legendary Fillmore Detroit was already sardined, but it’s safe to say that most were early in attendance just as much to catch TAUK as they were to get a good view of Umphrey’s. Seemingly on the dot, about 8:00 pm, TAUK went right into a smooth groove foreshadowing the precise, groovy, heavy, energetic rock instrumentation of which they’ve come to be known. As quickly as it began, roughly forty-five minutes later, TAUK had closed out their final song. The whirlwind that is present on their two albums was more than you could expect live. Take your favorite rock, funk, jazz, blues and hip-hop bands, throw them in a magical blender that makes the most on point meal which hits every taste bud in all the right ways. By the end, the photographer and I looked at one another and discussed how it was the first time we wanted to push back an Umphrey’s McGee set to hear more of the opener. It was a feeling of happy sadness – that feeling when your favorite record is cut too short.
It is without fail – partly because I don’t get to tour that often – that Umphrey’s McGee at The Fillmore Detroit every year in January ends up being the best of the season. It’s a combination of the venue doing the music justice and both the music and the venue doing the people justice. It’s equilibrium with the fifth element, the vibe of Detroit, adding an irrefutable aura to the experience. The first set included some crowd favorites such as “Mantis” and “Plunger” as well as the title track off their recent release. Their sound is always a mixture of man I wish my baby was here to dance with me to – JOEL!! – To where’s the mosh pit and everything in between with all the right metal sensibilities and soul tenderness. The second set of the night is where they really let loose with some heavy hitters: “Resolution,” “Pay the Snucka”and“Hajimemashite”. The “Norwegian Wood” jam in “Resolution” is sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup.
Singing along I couldn’t help but think about the lack of diversity in regards to ethnicity or race at these shows. I haven’t been to a quarter of as many shows as Uncle Mike, but I’ve been to enough to realize that the demographic typically looks like that of a suburban Vermont neighborhood. It’s not meant to be negative, it’s an observation and Umphrey’s isn’t alone. Sometimes this goes both ways, but even A$AP Rocky and Michael Franti shows don’t pull as much ethnic diversity. Is it a question of musical taste, location, ticket prices, outreach and genre demographical divide? It’s probably a combination of all. Similar to many subjects, diversity still hasn’t spread in listenership and the racial divide in musical appreciation is still very evident. Is this even something artists care or think about? That answer’s not yet clear, but it’s a conversation worth having. Nevertheless, in this case, it’s definitely not the music. I mean, they played “Regulate."
Quote of the night: I hope I remember this in the morning. I always get a little too fucked up for these shows.
Don’t miss these two on tour together or apart. We’ll see you along the way.
Pictures from the evening are on our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/soundandsilencemedia