By Benji Feldheim
Lincoln Hall warmed up by Quarter III. Even the beleaguered door guys who kept too many people from going outside to smoke showed a few smirks. It was clear by the end of thisquarter that there might be reasons why certain songs haven’t been played in about a decade. But the votes came in and the band put what they had into these songs regardless. This was also the set where they were could simply play their music like Umphrey’s McGee, especially during “All Things Ninja” and a good chunk of “Der Bluten Kat.”
The dub “Wife Soup” didn’t stray too far from the original song. Cinninger took advantage of the format to add warbling echoes through the first half the song, along with the downbeat rhythm. During the middle, Stasik’s rumbling bass lines paved a path for a scratching and punchy call and response between Bayliss and Cinninger. The full build at the end, led by ringing chords by Cummins on the B3, dissolved to the warm vocal harmony at the end.
“We hope you recognize it, and we understand if you don’t,” Bayliss said before they began “Muff II: The Revenge.”
A lot of faces read that people couldn’t quite figure out what the band was playing when they began the shitkicker tune. With a straight eight-note driven drum line, percussive guitars, Cinninger making his electric sound like a pedal steel and jumpy organ, “Muff II” was a fun three and a half minutes of foot stomp.
“Ninja” is one of a handful of songs that’s built on a wide range from the band’s bag of tricks: snaky prog syncopation, bright melody-driven crescendos and dirty funk. Dance and funk developed into a returning theme for parts of the next two sets. During “Ninja,” Stasik ran through droning tones while holding down a pattern, which possibly was either a nod to Claypool or it had a pinch of “Tommy the Cat.” Toward the end, Cinninger and Myers got into a swing duo, with Cinninger playing what sounded like a walking bass line along with chords, just before Myers soloed right up to the ending.
“Disco Red Room” really could be called “Power Ballad Red Room” once past the wahwah Blacksploitation film beginning.
“Here’s another one where it’s been a long, long, long time since we played it,” Cummins said before the next song. “Maybe 10 years.”
“Muffburger Sandwich” started with a simple mix of straight beat funk, slightly metal riffs, harmonics trickery and warbling keys. The middle leaned on the metal side until a slap bass and guitar blend that led into the chant-ready chorus, full of falsettos. While it felt like both “Muff” and “Muff II” were both over rather quickly, the band put a ton of energy into each tune.
The funk version of “Der Bluten Kat” started at low-volume with the guitar riff only, and then drums bass and keys joined the strutting feel. Restraint and focus on keeping the early written sections of the songs to the beat held until hitting the end of the first ‘act’ of the song. Crackling sixteenth notes by Myers got the next third of the song going at a swifter and straight ahead progression, into a near-Latin and dancehall version of their nod to Mozart’s Symphony number 40 in G minor.
Delayed guitars wails, synth rumble and straight funk came next to build “Girlfriend Is Better.” Talking Heads covers, though rare, have often been a strong suit of the band. And this was no different. The band put their own twists on the various robot sounds from the original, along with Myers and Bayliss making an odd composite of Byrne’s tweaked vocals.
In barely a blink, the band went right back into “DBK” at high speed. Shortly in, the band went to a dance beat with Myers using the e-drums over Bayliss teasing “Girlfriend,” which then led to going back into that song’s music, but then only to return to the “DBK” theme a few bars before cutting out again to a soft jazzy section. That last bit reads like a run-on sentence doesn’t it? But if you ask me, that’s what it was like at the show. It was a great flexing of the Umphrey’s ADD abilities.
The band then seemed to play around with a bouncing funk and a few key changes, before jumping back into the final fast and heavy act of “DBK.” The engine was firing on all cylinders and a reserve turbo with each musician going mad right up to the end.
But before closing it out, they dropped right back down to the funk style they started with for the very last bit of the song.
Set List: Wife Soup&, Muff II: The Revenge, All Things Ninja, Red Room Disco*, Muffburger Sandwich, Der Bluten Kat&& > Girlfriend Is Better** > Der Bluten Kat%
& “dub” version
&& “funk” version
* first time played, original
** first time played, Talking Heads
% with Girlfriend Is Better teases
Photos by Joel Berk