The buzz from the excited crowd anticipating two of the jam band's scene's most up and coming bands was fresh and impulsive. These are bands that have mostly broken through by their tediousness in touring and their successful musical appearances at major festivals such as Bonnaroo and Wakarusa.
Tea Leaf Green opened the show with a terrific set. This quartet from San Francisco improves greatly every time I see them. They opened with the upbeat example of good songwriting, "One Reason." Trevor Garrod demonstrates the ability to sing with soul while playing an elegant piano. Garrod writes most of these beautiful songs for TLG. "If It Wasn't For the Money" was next. This song showed off the talents of guitarist Josh Clark. The two of these guys are the driving force of this band and they work together well while trading solos throughout their songs. Then the band played "Red Ribbons > The Garden (Part II)," which was a surprise prelude to the end of the set. "Make a Connection" and "Faced With Love" are two songs about a broken love connection that are featured on TLG's live album Rock n' Roll Band. "Faced With Love" featured Garrod on the harmonica wailing to the large in coming crowd. "Sex in the 70's" is an older song featured on Midnight on the Reservoir. Tonight, TLG included teases of Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" during the song. The one hour opening set concluded with "The Invasion," "The Garden (Part III) > Death Cake," leaving the crowd begging for more. This young band has a big future in music. They've opened for Trey Anastasio, Govt' Mule, and now Umphrey's McGee. They are building popularity, and I expect that very soon they will be headlining shows at the Electric Factory themselves.
Umphrey's McGee is a band that formed on the other side of the country in Indiana at and around the University of Notre Dame. They've built a huge mid-west following that helped spawn their fast climb to success. This spring Umphrey's put out a double disc album including many of their unreleased songs with intriguing cover art by the famous Storm Thorgerson, called "The Bottom Half." Thorgerson has designed many popular album covers, but he is most famous for making one of the greatest of all time…Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
The show opened with "Jazz Odyssey" which featured Jake Cinninger on keyboards. This song is made most famous to fans because of the band's communication on stage. During "Jazz Odyssey" and "Jimmy Stewart," which was also played in the second set, the band uses a series of visual language symbols onstage to determine the arrangement of the song. For example, in the aforementioned songs a happy face symbolizes a major key, while a sad face represents a minor one. The following song "Der Kluten Kat" a rock anthem with several parts was the bread in the "Alex's Song" sandwich tonight. They played, "Der Kluten Kat > Alex's House > Der Kluten Kat > Alex's House > Der Kluten Kat." Guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger rocked in almost heavy metal fashion while the rest of the band took turns with progressive improvisational clinics. The crowd was going wild already.
The jazzy Zappa sounding tune called "Mail Package" calmed things down a bit until the deep prog rock sounds of the synthesizer electrified the venue again with "Atmosfarag," featured on the new album. "Out of Order" was next and acted as the perfect vehicle to the awesome set closer cover of the Genesis song "Abacab." With the announcement of the Genesis tour, this was a welcomed surprise.
The second set opened mellow with "Believe the Lie" and "Hangover." But, "Hangover" went into a forty minute "Nothing Too Fancy" sandwich with "Jimmy Stewart" and "FF" in the middle. "Nothing Too Fancy" was written by Cinninger and had an intro that sounded like a Van Halen song into an electronic dance beat. Umphrey's brought up the hometown favorite drummer of the Disco Biscuits Allen Aucoin on his birthday to play during this run of songs. Lately, the two bands have been appearing and touring together very often.
After, Umphrey's kept the crowd on their toes by going into "Young Lust" by Pink Floyd. The appreciative crowd loved it, and then the guitar driven "Prowler" crept up. When "Prowler" ended the band sensed the energy of the crowd and tried some crowd participation. They said, "It's Friday night. It's really easy. I don't care how much you've had to drink. You cannot fuck this up. Left side, right side, left side break out the booty wax (crowd replies 'It's Friday night). "Thank you let's do it." The crowd continued to play along. "Act like you want some ass!" The band then thanked the crowd and went back into "Hangover." The band walked off stage, and the crowd clapped in unison for their return. Umphrey's came back on and played "Pay the Snucka" to a very happy audience.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [^top] Set One Jazz Odyssey^ > Der Bluten Kat > Alex's House > Der Bluten Kat > Alex's House > Der Bluten Kat, Mail Package, Atmosfarag > Out of Order > Abacab Set Two Believe the Lie, Hangover > Nothing Too Fancy > "Jimmy Stewart"^ > FF > Nothing Too Fancy > Young Lust > Prowler > Hangover Encore Pay the Snucka Notes Tea Leaf Green opened
^ with Jake on keys