Umphrey's McGee | Fabulous Fox Theater | St. Louis | 8/15/14 | Review

Article Contributed by Tara Gracer | Published on Friday, August 22, 2014

Debuting yet another classical rock ‘n roll hotspot, The Fabulous Fox Theatre, in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, Umphrey’s McGee swayed the crowd to dance the night away on Friday, August 15th. Opening with a spacey introduction song, Lucid State, first played at the 2014 Red Rocks show in Morrison, Colorado, quickly developed into an energy filled Andy’s Last Beer with tasty Jake Cinninger solos. The band thanked the St. Louis crowd for attending the newly debuted venue while slowly seguing into Words (Last played 2014-03-18, show gap 53), an emotional up tempo-ed song with a fast Jake solo. There was a sudden fast change in pace to Tribute the Spinal Shaft where Andy Farag demonstrated his many talents with various cowbell and tambourine sounds behind his loaded percussion set. Tribute’s salsa zesty beat was halted and then gradually eased into Kris Myer’s drum introduction for Similar Skin, a new song off the new album dropped on June 10th. The song did not incorporate any lengthy jam, just a high-pitched Jake solo just like the guitar solo on the album. After the peaceful ending to Similar Skin, Blue Echo was first introduced by Jake’s staccato guitar strokes and later by Joel Cummin’s synths on the keyboards. Prominent bass riffs generated by Ryan Stasik later mixed with the dubby tunes of Joel on the keys to create an upbeat spooky jam for the crowd to dance to. The Blue Echo continued to increase in energy and pace until the abrupt climax, which transitioned directly into FF, a reggae sway tune that was jammed into a jazzy dropkick by Kris. FF was then dampened down into Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (a Radiohead cover), which is sung by the wooing voice of Kris Myers and backup vocals by Joel Cummins. The soft, tender mood created by the cover took a complete 360-degree turn, surprising the crowd, with a heavy Mulche’s Odyssey to close the first set. The fast pace metal song left the crowd wanting more “Joel and the Have Mercies”.

The second set opener was an enormous crowd pleaser and rushed everyone to immediately get back into his or her seats. The quadruple mash-up consisted of three covers: Seventh Nation Army by the White Stripes, Money by Pink Floyd (yes it had the coin and cash register sounds), and the swings of How Many More Times? By Led Zeppelin, and one Umphrey’s McGee original, Phil’s Farm, which included no lyrics (Phil’s 7 Nation Money Farm, Last Played: 2009-02-19, Show Gap 627). A few shout outs were given and the rock show continued into Resolution, which contained one medium-paced, smooth Jake jam that accelerated into a Joel organ lead while Ryan held a strong bouncy baseline. As Jake crossed the stage to join Joel, The Message (a Grandmaster Flash and Furious Five cover) was a second time played for the band (Last Played: 2014-02-01 The Fillmore Detroit, MI). The 80s song had the crowd screaming “YEAH!” and moving to the pop bounce created by Jake on the keys. The Message merged into another song off of the new album, Educated Guess. Due to the absence of live strings, which are on the studio version, Jake filled in with a few equal riffs during their part towards the end of the song. The no-jam heavy ending to Educated Guess came to a complete stop, allowing the crowd to absorb the new material and for Brendan Bayliss to say a few words. The most intriguing part of the show came with a double sandwich with extra UMPH in the middle: In the Kitchen into Syncopated Strangers into Nemo back into Syncopated Strangers and ending with In the Kitchen. The first In the Kitchen was a mixture of Brendan and Jake solos with a strong bassline created by Ryan with Joel jumping on to the grand piano.  The first Syncopated Strangers layer was a straight run through the first half the song with a slowdown to Joel on the synths and Ryan holding out a repetitive bass riff, which was used to develop into a full blown jam. The Nemo was used as the Syncopated second jam while the third was an out-of-space, out-of-mind kind of instrumental. The second half to In the Kitchen wrapped up quite nicely. The set was closed with a solid dancey Triple Wide with another same note, high-pitched repetitive Jake solo and even a little bit of bongo action by Andy Farag.

Umphrey’s McGee is notorious for playing an encore that leaves you wanting more. However, this Believe the Lie had no jam or intense soloing by any member of the band. Instead, it was a simple straight through, generic run of the song. Perhaps they were trying to convince us to all attend the Kansas City, Missouri show at the Crossroads the following night, I know I had to.