Umphrey’s McGee brings crisp weather, crispy jams to the South

Written by Vince Mason / Photos by Brad Kuntz

February 5, 2013

Umphrey’s McGee
Ziggy’s / The Fillmore
Winston-Salem, NC / Charlotte, NC
January 23, 2013 / January 24, 2013

Fresh from a much-talked-about string of stops in the Northeast, Umphrey’s McGee descended on Winston-Salem, NC for the first of a handful of Southern dates on their 2012/13 Winter Tour.

UM1The crisp January air brought the majority of the pre-show lot scene inside Ziggy’s Music Hall for opener Papadosio, an Asheville, NC-based livetronica quintet that did a great job of warming up the enthusiastic crowd. Umphrey’s took the stage just before 9 pm and came out of the gates running. The band served up a two tasty sets, each of which sandwiched by a longtime staple from their debut album, the tongue-in-cheek entitled Greatest Hits Volume III.

Set one, book ended by “Phil’s Farm,” featured a nearly 16-minute “Red Tape” (replete with improvised jamming, or “Jimmy Stewart” in Umphspeak). Set one was further highlighted with the elusive and aptly-named “Space Funk Booty.” The second set began and ended with “Divisions,” another jam-filled standard that moved seamlessly into a familiar-sounding riff that had the mostly 20-something crowd screaming once they recognized it as a Reggae / dub-styled cover of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe.”

Drummer Kris Myers was practically on fire on what turned out to be the 10th anniversary of his first show with the band. The evening ended with always hard-rocking “Pay The Snucka” (peppered with teases of Led Zeppelin’s “Rain Song”) and left many in the audience wanting more.

UM2

Thankfully, more was just what was in store, as the band’s next stop was a quick 90 minutes from Winston-Salem, at Charlotte’s Fillmore, part of the impressive NC Music Factory complex.

If Wednesday night in Winston-Salem was chilly, Thursday night in Charlotte was downright freezing. Familiar faces from the previous night dotted the long line outside the Fillmore, and the venue took the somewhat unprecedented step of opening up their Express Line – a premium service that under normal circumstances would cost patrons an additional $5.00 – to speed along access to the shivering throngs gathered outside.

Papadosio again played as support, this time to an almost capacity crowd as the Fillmore was nearly full well before the end of their opening set.

Umphrey’s’ first set opened with the unfamiliar “Drink My Drank.” Played for the first time since its debut during the recent new years run, this song, at its heart, is a hard rocking tune that the band seemed to have fun with and one that will likely develop into an incubator for serious jamming in the near future.

UM3

The evening really got going with “The Crooked One,” which had even the relatively calm top tier of the four-leveled venue jumping, and made it clear that the majority in attendance were true Umphrey’s fans, not merely locals coming to check out one of the biggest bands in the jam scene today.

Other highlights of set one included guitarist Brendan Bayliss playing slide during “Mullet (Over)” with his Budweiser longneck between sips, a fun cover of Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise,” and an epic “Two by Two” to close the set.

“Hurt Bird Bath” opened set two, carrying with it all the energy and intensity from set one, and from there the band didn’t let up at all. A string of popular favorites followed, including “Hangover” and “Nemo,” but the highlight of the show was undoubtedly the rarely-played Warren G / Nate Dogg tune, “Regulate,” which brought the loudest crowd response of the evening. The fun and funky “40’s Theme” finished out the set, and after a short break the show closed with the very danceable electronica instrumental “The Triple Wide.”

Celebrating their 15th anniversary with this tour, it can be said that the band has really hit their stride. One might expect that shows in these mid-size venues will soon be a thing of nostalgia.

 

1/23/2013
Ziggy’s Music Hall
Winston-Salem, NC

Set 1: Phil’s Farm > The Bottom Half, Red Tape[1], Loose Ends > Space Funk Booty, 2nd Self, Preamble > Mantis Ghetts > Mantis > Turn & Dub > Phil’s Farm

Set 2: Divisions > Breathe (dub)> Mantis, Push the Pig, Thin Air, Resolution[2] > Pipeline > Divisions

Encore: Pay the Snucka[3]

[1] with Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) teases
[2] with Norwegian Wood (The Beatles) jam
[3] with The Rain Song (Led Zeppelin) jam

 

1/24/2013
Fillmore Charlotte
Charlotte, NC

Set 1: Drink My Drank > The Crooked One > Out Of Order, Got Your Milk (Right Here)[1] > Mullet (Over), Two Tickets to Paradise, Search 4 > 2×2

Set 2: Hurt Bird Bath, Deeper[2] > Rocker Part 2, Hangover, Nemo, Regulate, 40′s Theme

Encore: The Triple Wide

[1] with Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy) jam
[2] with Xxplosive (Dr. Dre) tease

 

Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Brad Kuntz