For a band that excels in the live music setting, Umphrey’s McGee have not really released a whole lot of live material in the past, at least not when compared to a lot of their jamband counterparts. Outside of Live at the Murat and a few Hall of Fame releases, most of their official projects have come out of the studio lately. Now with the band working to spotlight their standalone streaming platform on the UMLive App released less than a year ago, the demand for live performances has become greater than ever before.
To feed that demand the band has dug deep into their archive and yanked out a nugget for fans to feast upon. This performance from the fall of 2004 at San Francisco’s famed Great American Music Hall showcases the group as they were breaking out of the clubs and into larger, more appropriate venues. Relative newcomers Jake Cinninger (guitar/vocals) and Kris Myers (drums/vocals) had firmly entrenched themselves into the UM fold that by that year, and the band’s music was reaching a wider audience thanks to their enigmatic and supercharged performances. This newly unearthed gem is the perfect example of why their popularity has skyrocketed since then.
The first set of this show is classic Umph. From fist-pumping versions of “Syncopated Strangers” and “Plunger”, to beautiful transitions like the ones heard throughout “Mail Package>Divisions>Glory>Divisions”, and the debut of the aptly named “Great American”, the band’s signature flair for aggressive progressive rock was on full display. Throw in a set-ending cover of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” and fans really couldn’t ask for much more.
But oh how so much more was in store that evening. Not only did the band throw down splendid renditions of “2nd Self”, “Nemo”, “Mulches Odyssey”, “Hurt Bird Bath” and more during the second set but they also turned the audience upside down midway through by welcoming none other than California legend and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh to the stage for takes on “Robot World” and the Dead classic “Franklin’s Tower”.
Thanks to this re-mastered Kevin Browning matrix recording you can hear the crowd go absolutely nuts when Phil sauntered onto the stage, and you can almost feel the smiles coming off the band members’ faces as they jammed with one of their heroes. While Lesh handled lead on vocals and bass, Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss took turns on ripping guitar solos effectively leaving the entire house with melted faces and lasting memories.
If you are looking to obtain a classic Umphrey’s live show, you won’t find many better shows than this. The band was slaying their live performances during this pivotal year; all the while laying the groundwork for a big and bright future. Fans who are bold enough to be using the UMLive App will be thrilled to have another vintage live show added to the growing list of streaming options, while the rest have either the choice of purchasing the download from umlive.net or obtaining physical copies in CD format.