Umphrey’s McGee concluded their 2016 Winter West Coast Tour at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The tour has been highlighted by a variety of bust-outs, debuts and collaborations and this night would prove to be no different. The crowd began filtering in more than 2 hours before Umphrey’s McGee was ready to start, and those that did were greeted with a fiery opening set from Prog-rock all-stars TAUK. By the time Umphrey’s took the stage the crowd was already at near capacity and was raring to go.
The evening got off to a great start with a “Le Blitz” > “Educated Guess” opener and proved to be a dynamic start that would be reflective of the set that would follow. “Crooked One”, once heavy in the rotation but is now played more sparingly, was crisp and energetic and gave way to a groovy “Example 1”. The highlight of the first set followed “Attachments” when Arthur Barrow of Frank Zappa fame took the reins on Ryan Stasik’s bass for a jazzy, instrumental trio of “Soul Food I” > “Treacherous Cretins” > “Glory”. The Zappa original “Treacherous Cretins” was a debut for Umphrey’s, though it was executed as if it’s been in the repertoire since 2000. The first set concluded with “Piranahs” into the crowd favorite “Wizard Burial Ground”, which met it’s usually lofty expectations.
The second set kicked off with an original classic “40’s Theme”, as the late crowd trailed in from set-break they were welcomed with a heavy mid-song groove reminiscent of “Booth Love”. An unfinished “Puppet String” was segued into the Mark Ronson original “Daffodils”, originally debuted during this year’s New Years run and had only been played one other time prior, featuring drummer Kris Myers on falsetto vocals. Brendan resumed vocals duty with “Wappy Sprayberry”, which was met with a raucous response from the audience and was complete with Kris Myers and Andy Farag getting the spotlight for a “Drums” section and then succinctly dropped into “Bottom Half”. The set closing “Hindsight” followed “Hurt Bird Bath” and was well played but the crowd responded in a manner indicating they were wanting more. When Umphrey’s returned, they delivered on the crowd’s desire with a 3-song encore. Brendan Bayliss took center stage for a fun, and quirky, take on R. Kelly’s “Ignition” as a little treat to all the ladies in the audience. The show closed out with “Upward” that transitioned into the resumption of “Puppet String”.
As the crowd filtered out through the arching lobby of the Wiltern, making one last pit-stop or picking up some swag at the merchandise table, the crowd’s energy was still appreciable and the affirmative commentary of the show echoed throughout. Outside the venue the hotdog vendors were slinging their customary bacon-wrapped dogs as everyone headed their separated ways, only to meet again next time.
Set 1: Le Blitz > Educated Guess, The Crooked One > Example 1, Attachments, Soul Food I > Treacherous Cretins > Glory, Piranhas > Wizard Burial Ground
Set 2: 40's Theme, Puppet String > Daffodils, Wappy Sprayberry > The Bottom Half, Hurt Bird Bath, Hindsight
Encore: Ignition, Upward > Puppet String
 With Arthur Barrow replacing Ryan on bass
 Debut, Frank Zappa; with Arthur Barrow replacing Ryan on bass