March 4, 2007
The Fox Theatre knows how to party, and they should. They have played host to some of the most magical moments in Colorado’s fruitful music scene for the past 15 years.
So it was no surprise to see the anniversary celebration line up run for over a week and include bands ranging from Sam Bush to Robert Randolph and the Family Band.
Umphrey's McGee played a two-night stint, and the sold out Monday night show was night five of the venue’s celebration. Local musician Doug Baker opened the show, and was joined by Yonder Mountain String Band’s Jeff Austin on a few tunes. Then Umphrey’s Mcgee took the stage.
The irony of a nearly two minute instrumental intro to a song titled “Words” pretty much sums up Umphrey’s Mcgee and their defiance of the norm. Then Kris Myers and Andy Farag mustered up a storm of percussion as the band started into “Out of Order.”
Kris Myers is one of the most exciting drummers touring today, and he was firing away all night. The band's progressive style of rock and roll, with heavy beats and break-neck tempo changes would never be possible without his impeccable cadence and creative approach. They the flawlessly segued into the dark, evil vibe of “Blue Echo.”
Ryan Stasik relentlessly bombed the crowd with heavy waves of bass, as the looping sounds of Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger’s guitars chased one another.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Umphrey’s Mcgee live is their ability to segue in and out of songs. They blurred the lines between "Blue Echo” and “Jimmy Stewart” so impeccably that you could not tell where one ended and the other began.
Since the opening “Words” not many had rang out, so the vocals of “Thin Air” broke things up nicely. Joel Cummins took his first extended walk around the block with some nice piano work that continued out of “Thin Air’ into a nice piano jam.
Then the band invited out (with a small dose of ridicule) their buddy Jeff Austin on mandolin for a strapping version of “Great American.” The guitars were acoustic on this number and they seemed to enjoy hamming it up with Austin. The acoustic offering tastefully showcased the chops of the two guitarists, and was a refreshing change of pace from the heavy prog rock sound that had dominated the show so far. Cummins continued to sneak in perfectly placed piano alongside the Latin vibe of Myers and Farag’s percussion.
The band started off the second set with a grandiose “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” that nearly drove the crowd into submission. Full of sonic sound, massive amounts of bass, aggressive drums and blistering guitar it was dangerously close to sensory overload.
Then the tripped out echo of “Uncle Wally” settled things back down to a manageable level. The band’s vocal presence on this song showed a great deal of range with a greater group dynamic and tight harmony.
A few other friends would join in before the set ended. Opening act Doug Baker took the stage and Leftover Salmon keyboardist Bill McKay surfaced to help out on “Wife Soup.”
The Fox Theater is one year richer in experience and Umphrey’s Mcgee made sure they made their mark in the books.