Umphrey's McGee Hoses House of Blues Crowd with Bliss Jams All Night

Concert Review


It's something of a local tradition, this late-October Umphrey's McGee show at the House of Blues. Everyone who sort of bumps into one another at more grassroots jam band shows all year ends up congregating at Umph in the fall. It's a beautiful thing. 

Umphrey's delivered the goods last night, kicking off a short fall tour right here in Cleveland. 

It's always kinda cool when a band opens a show with one of their towering album openers. In this case, UM dropped Preamble > Mantis from their 2009 album. Mantis is a heavy bastard of a song, and, especially when paired with Slacker, it got everyone moving. 

The first set featured several Jimmy Stewarts — the band's term for those moments of fully improvised jamming — and had each musician rocking out like this was a backyard party. There was something almost summery and celebratory about the music. 

And, indeed, with everyone from Cleveland's jam scene in attendance, the show was pretty celebratory. Lots of high-fives, handshakes and hugs circulated throughout the show, as we all ran into longtime friends and acquaintances. 

After a visit to the Foundation Room upstairs (feat. a pretty incredible little view of East Fourth), the second set started up and got everyone in the house dancing. Bridgeless > 2nd Self and Wappy Sprayberry each oozed into major-key bliss jams. During Wappy, lighting guy Jefferson Waful lit up the back of the stage as though it were on fire, and the crowd danced atavistically. 

The transition from Wappy to Higgins cooled things down a bit and introduced some minor-key melody, but the band didn't let up for too long.

The show's final highlight came during Breathe > Bridgeless, capping off the second set by swirling in and out of a dub Floyd jam and into an extremely heavy, machine gun-style ending to the second set.

BONUS: Yahoo! is running a 24-hour replay of the live stream of last night's show. Check in sometime today.


Set 1: Preamble > Mantis > Slacker, Prowler > Mantis, Driven to Tears* > Similar Skin*, Cemetery Walk > Cemetery Walk II*

Set 2: Bridgeless -> 2nd Self, Wappy Sprayberry > Higgins, Got Your Milk (Right Here) > Breathe > Bridgeless

Encore: JaJunk 

* Jimmy Stewart

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