Masquerade Music Park
August 14, 2010
"Hey, it's hot, but at least it's not raining." It is safe to say that everybody agreed with Brendan Bayliss' sentiment, as they applauded what served as a hello to the crowd at Atlanta's Masquerade outdoor park when Umphrey's McGee took the stage. It was indeed hot. After all, Atlanta didn't get the term of endearment, Hot-lanta, attached to it through circumstance.
There is something uniquely treacherous about the high temperatures in the South, and apparently Bayliss, a Windy City native, was impressed. However, once the music started, the fact we were hot before was ignored as the temperature emanated from the stage proved to be sizzling.
The set began with the eternal opening number, "Preamble," which set the stage for tour ending greatness; it led into a seamless beginning of the multi-layered Rush-reminiscent monster and title track of Umphrey's latest album, Mantis, which in turn would flawlessly segue into long-time fan favorite "Hurt Bird Bath." This tune, consisting of impressive dueling guitar runs between Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, was just the what the near capacity crowd required as they were taken through the deliberate feedback-laden lulls and eventual onslaught of melting riffs from Cinninger.
By the time "HBB" reached its death-metal harsh middle, it seemed as though every dancing soul in the venue was completely dialed into the band. Bayliss commented on the crowd's energy, stating "Hot-lanta, we've been looking forward to this one for a very long time…we're gonna have a fucking good time tonight."
The band would slow down a little bit with "Prowler > Passing" and "Conduit." These three tunes served as stride-breakers from rest of the show but did not take away from the overall show. Rather, they served as a set up to the final three songs of the set.
Keyboardist Joel Cummins passively stated, "And now we dance." and the band launched into a synth-heavy version of the Talking Heads' "Making Flippy Floppy," much to the delight of the crowd. The set closed with the always welcomed, intense, and ironically named "Nothing Too Fancy" which segued back into "Mantis," exactly where they had lifted off from at the onset of the evening. It was now time to breathe. As the boys took their break, so did the Umphreaks. It was well earned by both.
As the second set began, the temperature outside was cooling off but on stage it would only get hotter. It opened with the classic prog-rock guitar sounds of "Plunger" that rang into the night and kicked the crowd right back into gear. From here they dove right into "Hajimemashite," the uplifting pleasantry of Bayliss' vocals deftly accompanied by Cinniger's soulful guitar work; Umphrey's would eventually segue back into "Plunger."
Bayliss who fervently acknowledged the band has "been coming to Atlanta for a very long time; we've got a lot of old friends in the crowd, so this is an old song." His declaration served as a nice introduction for the fun sing-along "Front Porch," which directed itself into ZZ Top's "Cheap Sunglasses" tangled with Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade" as a midway jam narrative, and then returned to "Front Porch," cooking up the most amazing jam sandwich of the night.
The still-hungry crowd began chanting "Umphrey's, Umphrey's, Umphrey's," and the septet delivered the most concentrated jam effort of the night, a blistering "Bright Lights." With undertone synth from Cummins, Andy Farag's and Kris Myers' driving beats, Ryan Stasik's powerful bass line, and echoing dual guitars. the song had the entire crowd dancing as though it was at a late night rave. In classic Umphrey's style, they would reunite the crowd back with their old friend, "Nothing Too Fancy" as an show closer.
As all good things do, this too came to an end, but not before one more tune. The band made its way back to the stage for one last offering – a tour ending monster "All In Time," which yielded a little taste of the King of Pop with a "Wanna Be Startin' Something" jam. It served as a stellar nightcap. The crowd began shuffling their way out into the night, and everyone seemed to share the same sentiment: What a fantastic show/band.