Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring soundboard recordings from Goose’s Red Rocks debut, John Mayer’s Rise for the River Benefit, Billy Strings, Gov’t Mule and more.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring soundboard recordings from Dead & Company, Umphrey’s McGee, and more artists currently on tour.
Umphrey’s McGee wrapped a weekend in the Midwest with a doubleheader featuring their 10th and 11th performances (excluding two VIP sets) at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI on Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. Featuring a wealth of old-school rarities, new songs and fan-requested favorites, this most recent Detroit run is required listening. Major highlights across the two nights were the 400th performance of “Phil’s Farm”, a bust of the Radiohead song “Meeting in the Aisle”, “Words” and an impromptu 10-minute take on the SRV classic “Lenny”, as well as a wide variety of jams and impressive segues, made more impressive by a new breath of creativity from lighting director Ben Factor.
Having performed at The Fillmore over the last ten years, it is their first time bringing a two-night run more than two consecutive years. Umphrey’s McGee, or guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, keyboardist Joel Cummins, drummer Kris Myers, percussionist Andy Farag and bassist Ryan Stasik skipped the venue in 2016 and 2018 before playing two nights in 2017, 2019 and now 2020.
On Friday night they began with a solid 20 minutes dedicated to two originals, “Maybe Someday” and “Whistle Kids” from their recent release it’s not us and the counterpart, it’s you. “Whistle Kids” was stretched out longer than the two and featured a light stepping blues-funk outro riff before the jam slowed into something more ambient. That low-intensity vibe segued neatly into a Radiohead cover of “Meeting in the Aisle” for the first time in 322 shows and 18th overall.
The second biggest surprise of the set was fan favorite “Words”, appearing on 2006’s Safety in Numbers. After the song, Bayliss admitted that the song was requested for the Detroit show the previous year and made good on his promise to play it, on his terms of course.
The old-school song selection continued with a standalone “Mail Package” to split the set. The 2011 Death By Stereo cut “Miami Virtue” featured some of the sets’ most fun improvisation and shouldn’t be skipped. The final 15 minutes of the first set was a fiery “1348” > “The Fuzz” > “1348” segment. “The Fuzz” is another first set bust-out. An old-school favorite, “The Fuzz” was criminally underplayed for several years but has seen a resurgence since late 2018.
The second set was heavy in the middle of the band’s catalog, opening with “North Route”. A soft and ethereal piano intro from Joel Cummins leads the instrumental, but it finishes as an off-kilter and loaded rock ‘n roll anthem. On Friday, they segued that heavy rock into the dance party that is “Bad Friday”. Both songs are relatively recent and share that they were debuted as the first song after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2016 and 2013, respectively.
After a lengthy jam and a quick reprise, the band rested briefly before introducing another heavy rock and under-played favorite, “Go To Hell”. A 25 minute “Mantis” > “Hajimemashite” > “Mantis” segment was off to an incredible start in the first 10 minutes, but somewhere in the transition between the jam and “Haji”, Stasik’s pedalboard was bombed by an airborne tallboy of Budweiser. The music never stopped, which is a credit to the band’s ability to handle the biggest surprises on the fly, inspiring an ad-libbed first verse of “Haji” by Bayliss.
The intense expression of gratitude that is “Little Gift” from 2014’s Similar Skin followed with an explosive improv section led by Cinninger. The band transitioned into a 13-minute standalone “Hurt Bird Bath” to finish the set.
When Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage, Stasik took the
mic and addressed the win of a shiny new tuner and the fact that instead of playing
what they had planned (which was an unnamed cover) they were going to play
“some Michigan shit”. Mid-sentence, Cinninger jumped on the mic to stop a
second beer from being hurled at the stage. The band moved into a quick and
standard take on the Bob Seger classic “Hollywood Nights” and called it a
On Saturday, spirits were high and positive among the crowd and the band despite some sticky pedals and melted faces. Umphrey’s McGee’s sense of humor was on display immediately, beginning the show with “You Got the Wrong Guy” and taking it into the uptempo rock and roll anthem “Mulche’s Odyssey”. Appearing on 2004’s Anchor Drops, the band moved into the much slower and relaxing vibe of the titular track.
From “breathe easy” to “Make It Right”, they moved on from the thrown beer and into a 14-minute “Kabump” party. An off-beat and jazzy improv section kept the crowd moving and bumping around their neighbors. The second jam in the track will put this track on many favorites lists this year as well as the next track, “Sociable Jimmy”. Cummins and Stasik took turns keeping the improv weird and funky, drawing it out into a psychedelic peak with frenetic fretwork from Cinninger before falling back into the song’s ending.
A stark contrast to the dance frenzy of the last 25 minutes, the band carved out a soft landing for a bust out of “The Pequod” at the request of long-time fan Erik Johnson for his 100th show. After a brief and beautiful respite, the band used the last nine minutes of the set for an upbeat “Day Nurse”. There’s a hot Michael Jackson tease of “Workin’ Day or Night” which could have tricked some fans into thinking a “Night Nurse” was also on her way.
The second set of the night got off to a great start with a 15-minute standalone “Phil’s Farm”. One of the band’s oldest tracks and appearing on their debut album Greatest Hits Vol III, the Detroit “Phil’s” marked the 400th time the band played the song since they debuted it at their very first show 22 years earlier. It is the 10th song in the Umphrey’s McGee catalog to break the 400 mark with “Jajunk”, “Push the Pig” and “Ringo” all less than ten performances away as well.
They followed one of their oldest songs with their newest release, “Suxity”. A reworking of a track called “Fresh Start” from 2007’s The Bottom Half, the song bounces between angsty 90s grunge and uptempo funk. A major uplifting jam bridged the song and a ten-minute take on “Lenny” – which was a total audible and not on the working setlist.
For the next 45 minutes and for the second half of the set, the band only played three songs. Leading with the extended and psychedelic discombobulation into of a standalone “Believe the Lie” and into “Jajunk”, the band was firing on all cylinders. For the final song of the set, “August”, Bayliss shone throughout, taking multiple leads and letting the melody soar.
For the encore, Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage for the second performance of “Bullshit Anthem” since debuting at the most recent New Year’s Eve run in Denver. A funk-laden cover by Oakland, CA native Xavier Dphrepaulezz, aka Fantastic Negrito, the song featured Myers on lead vocals. They ended the show with the conclusion of “Jajunk”.