Attending an Umphrey’s McGee show is unlike anything else, and this past weekend in Detroit was no exception. The 20 some year old jam band played three nights in Michigan, two of which were at the Fillmore Detroit.
The venue was filled with anxious fans, many of whom have attended countless shows throughout the entire country, making special trips to distant states just to hear the band perform. Umphrey’s is one of the few bands that have a die-hard, intensely committed fan base, and for good reason. With just about each show having a completely different setlist than any other, this is a band that really gives back to its fans and works hard to do so.
Umphrey’s McGee’s discography has such a wide array of genres and moods, and their live sets are where they truly shine. The band flawlessly transitions from funk to hard rock, to psychedelic, to progressive without ever missing a beat. The set list has complete control over the mood of the crowd, teasing them with something melodic and nostalgic, and suddenly jumping into something vibrant and new. Only Umphrey’s can make two very different genres make complete sense when joined together. Just listen to Zonkey.
The band started the 3 hours long, 2 set performance with "There’s No Crying in Mexico," the perfect piece to get the energy really flowing through the venue. Psychedelic lights and beats took over the beautiful room while the stage was still dark, creating the ideal mood for the rest of the evening. As the first set continued, the colorful beams of light truly grabbed you and the music lifted you up. Waful’s light production was on top of it as always, perfectly fusing visual splendor with each instrument’s echo. Pinks and greens covered each member of the audience, then swirled into a calmer blue, as a quieter melody joined. Crowd favorites of the first set included "All in Time" and "Day Nurse." "Alex’s House" was a special treat as well, as it had a 67 show gap. Many UM fans got to hear "Alex’s House" live for the first time.
Matt Slusser, who traveled from Columbus, Ohio to see all three nights, attended his 31st show on Friday. “It never slows down or disappoints. It only gets better and better and leaves you wanting more. Umphrey’s can drop what they are doing mid-song and jam into a completely different direction without missing a single note. You’re going to get the unexpected, and you're going to leave the show wondering how a concert affected you the way it did.”
The band’s second set was extra special. The set began with the vibrant "Miss Tinkle’s Overture." The song's quick guitar riffs and a wide range of notes pumped the crowd for the rest of the set. "Cemetery Walk" into "Cemetery Walk II" has only happened five times prior, as it’s normally shortened and combined, and was a real treat for fans. Jake’s shredding on the 7 string for "Cem II" was simply impressive, a relief after his recent bout of the flu, which prevented him from playing a few shows prior to the Michigan run.
Throughout the two sets, the band’s chemistry with one another and with the crowd was incredibly apparent. A mutual connection was shared, acting as a bridge to exchange the energy and joy felt from the stage, all the way to the back wall of the venue. Their energy and love for what they do was unmistakable and is a clear indication of why their fans continue to support them, show after show. They interacted with the crowd on a personal level as well, often pointing out to a member of the audience and donning a huge smile, or throwing a copy of the set list or lyrics for someone to take home. Witnessing this level of appreciation and depth is something most people would truly enjoy, regardless of their level of love for the music itself.
The night ended with a beautiful encore of Glory into Bridgeless.
Set 1: There's No Crying In Mexico > Attachments, All In Time > Day Nurse, Educated Guess, Alex's House > Bridgeless > No Comment > Believe the Lie
Set 2: Miss Tinkle's Overture, Remind Me, Cemetery Walk > Cemetery Walk II, Out Of Order, Wappy Sprayberry > All In Time
Encore: Glory > Bridgeless