@AndyShore From the bottom of my heart, I want to sincerely thank Umphrey’s McGee. Not just for one of the single best Umphrey’s shows I’ve ever seen. Not even just for the last ten years of Umphrey’s shows I’ve seen (2/2/02 was my first – I had to use a fake ID to get into an 18+ show). Thank you, because every single time I see an Umphrey’s show, whether it’s in Chicago, Los Angeles or anywhere else, I feel at home. I’m always seeing a band I love, surrounded by people I love. My friend told his girlfriend, who was seeing the band for her first time, that it would be a lot like the Rush scene in I Love You, Man. It so was, and I am not at all ashamed of that fact. I had a great time.
Amazingly, it doesn’t even end there. When I look back, Umphrey’s McGee made me a smarter music fan. Their complex brand of progressive rock and improvisation forced me to be more aware of every layer of sound, time and key changes and what it meant to control a crowd’s energy with the ebb and flow of music. I paid attention in my music theory class in college, because I wanted to understand more of what was going down onstage (I would have probably learned even more had my teacher not issued an open note test and doing homework as a class policies).
The show Saturday night was a perfect example of all of this. Two expertly constructed sets and one of the best Umphrey’s McGee encores I’ve ever seen. My single favorite Umphrey’s song to see live in “All in Time” and an absolutely ridiculous “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the Chicago Mass Choir (CMC). The opening line from the choir triggered a deafening roar from the crowd and shook the Aragon Ballroom. Sigh…I’m getting ahead of myself.
“Bridgeless” early on in set one was one of the songs my friends and I excitedly discussed wanting to hear (see…I Love You, Man). The “Take Me Home” tease in the middle of “Bright Lights, Big City” put the first Cheshire grin on my face. I was left hands on head, knowing that being back home playing in front of their hometown crowd meant as much to the band as it meant to me to be there. The “Hajimemashite” with Allie Kral (Cornmeal) would have been enough (Dayenu) to end the first set. Then they played “40s Theme.” Amen.
Speaking of amen…set two brought the first appearance of the CMC. Not before a “Miami Virtue” that included the Miami Vice pastel pink and blue lights to remind you that Waful is as smart and witty as he is talented. I had guessed “Booth Love” would include the CMC. Instead, they took their places for the only version of “Bullhead City” I’ll ever want to listen to again. “Glory” was already the single most beautiful and uplifting piece of music Umphrey’s McGee has to offer…and then they sandwiched it with “Amazing Grace” sung by the CMC.
Watch the videos. See why I am so thankful that his band has been a part of my life for the last decade. Follow as Umphrey’s McGee continues to push forward. It can be seen in their recent demonstration at the Apple Store and their recognition for their use of technology on CNN.com. I anxiously await to see where this band will go next.
I had a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Health, happiness, family and friends. I’m far too shy to write this unabashedly about those things in a public forum. Instead, I will offer these thoughts on one of my favorite bands around…and hope all my friends and family know that my feelings are even greater for them.