Back for their first time headlining Columbus in nearly a year, Chicago-based Umphrey’s McGee brought out die-hards and new fans last weekend and showed them what they’ve been missing for the last year. On Friday February 4th UM packed the LC Indoors for over two and a half hours of shredding guitars, funky synth and incredible improv.
Keyboard player Joel Cummins eased the anxious crowd into “Jazz Odyssey” which the band jammed out of, really picking it up during “Search 4”. The party started when they busted out “Partyin’ Peeps”. Joel and guitarists Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss sounded great on vocals and the Cinninger/Bayliss guitar duel that shortly followed was on fire.
Umphrey’s had to have something up their sleeves after the intensity of “Partyin’ Peeps”, but when they pulled out fan favorite “Nothing Too Fancy” the crowd didn’t know what they were in for. Umphrey’s carried the jam from “Nothing Too Fancy” into a 16-minute “Uncle Wally”, into “2×2”, into “Jimmy Stewart” and then back into “2×2”.
After being bombarded with glow sticks, Bayliss requested “If you’re going to throw shit at us throw your bras or your weed.” Bras and joints hit the stage and the band went into the last song of set one.
“Interstate Love Song” was a little weak (how could they follow the last 45 minutes?), but the real treat, as far as UM covers go, was coming in the second set. The song choice kept with the 90’s theme of the Lexington show the night before, where they played Nirvana’s “In Bloom” as well as Snoop and Dre’s “Nothin’ But a G Thang”.
The band came back strong after the set break with “Wappy Sprayberry”, which lasted nearly 18 minutes before they quickly switched into “Spires”. The packed pit swayed to the rhythm of a dub style “Push The Pig” into “Believe The Lie” which lasted nearly 15 minutes, peaking hard about eleven minutes in.
The band really started cranked the heat with their cover of “Girlfriend Is Better” by The Talking Heads. They flowed right into “Ocean Billy” and then rode an intense jam to segue back to “Nothing Too Fancy” from first set. Joel was on point on the synthesizer and the crowd’s energy at the end of the show was tangible.
Umphrey’s came back onstage after a few minutes of chants of “Umphrey’s!” and “We want the Umph!” The band had 2 more songs in store, starting the encore with crowd sing-along favorite “Hangover” then dropping down and going into “Ocean Billy”.
The sound could have been better in the LC, but new soundboard engineer Chris Mitchell proved a great replacement for former soundboard Kevin Browning (who now works in UM headquarters). Their lights, run by Jeff Waful, were intense and to the music; UM undoubtedly puts on one of the best light shows in the jam scene. From the set list and the band, to the sound and lights guys, everything came together for an incredible night. Friday night’s show by far topped the last time they played at the LC (Outdoors) opening for Widespread Panic to a sparse crowd. After this show, they don’t need to worry about playing to another crowd of 200 people. UM tore the night up and Columbus fans will surely be coming back for more.
Written by Meghan Bender
Set Two: Wappy Sprayberry>Spires, Push the Pig>Believe the Lie, Girlfriend is Better>Ocean Billy>Nothing too Fancy
Encore: Hangover>Ocean Billy
Opening Act: Orchard Lounge