April 22, 2011
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Scott Witty
There are some infamous jam bands, like Phish and the Grateful Dead, whose music seems to plod along forever when the musicians on stage decided to become spontaneous with the songs. For that reason alone, I was dreading my first experience with Umphrey's McGee despite reassurance from the photographer to the contrary. He told me they were a progressive rock jam band that on a moment's whim could whip out an exciting version the Allman Brothers' classic "Jessica," or lay down hard rockin' tunes like Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher." To my utter delight, he was absolutely right.
It does absolutely no good for a fan of Umphrey's McGee to research the set lists for this band. They change nightly. In fact, during the group's four-day run from Tulsa down to Houston, with stops in Dallas and Austin, the House of Blues show in Big D was the only city where the band didn't duplicate any songs in their set during the stretch. And for good measure, they even threw in a couple of cover tunes by Radiohead ("All I Need") and Steely Dan ("Peg").
The show opened with "Red Tape" from the Mantis album, and ended three hours later with another cut from the CD, "40's Theme." In between, four cuts from the albums Local Band Does O.K. ("Andy's Last Beer" and "Ringo") and The Bottom Half (title track and "Bright Lights") populated the set. Sandwiched in-between were "Alex's House," "Wappy Sprawberry" and "Walletsworth" among others that were treated to this band's infamous extended versions of the tunes.
Make no mistake about it. This packed house of McGee fans went home sweaty, drained and very happy. The genres of music Umphrey's's incorporates into their songs are varied and vast. You heard everything, from rock to reggae, metal and funk, soul to classic rock. Oh yeah, the band can sing as well. Unlike the other better known jam bands on the road today, this band sports without a doubt, the best musicians. It was a long night, but in the end, a smile crossed my face instead of a disgruntled moan. With that said, can't wait to experience this jam again.