Umphrey’s McGee @ Canopy Club
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, The Canopy Club is one of my absolute favorite venues. It was the first place I ever had the opportunity to see Umphrey’s McGee and every time I’ve seen them play there it’s like being at home. This Sunday(Feb. 18th) show was no different. With a sold out crowd in attendance it was easily one of the most packed shows I’ve seen at Canopy in a while. No opening band meant a solid 3 hours of UM. As I arrived the entrance line was already spilling out of the entrance way, out to the street, and around the corner. Not an unusual sight for an UM show. After a slight struggle at the entrance in securing my photo pass I was on my way into the main stage area. The floor was already beginning to pile up with people so I took a quick second to grab a beer and catch up with some friends before making the trek through the crowd and down to the photo pit. Once I was there it was easy to see that even with 30 minutes to show time the crowd was getting wild. The balcony was crammed full and the lower section of the main stage area was completely filled in shoulder to shoulder with people eagerly awaiting what was to come.
After some small talk with the front rail crew and some talking with the fellow photographers in the pit the six members of Umphrey’s McGee took to the stage. A ‘Gurgle’ intro lead into ’40′s Theme’ which was a funny reminder that I had just gotten a call from a friend pre gaming in the parking lot with a 40oz. The atmosphere right off the bat was heavy as almost everyone in the room was yelling lyrics along with the band. ‘Room to Breathe’ and ‘Ringo’ followed which added a lot to the first set in the way of improv. Most of the first set, and the entire performance was stocked full of improv that I hadn’t heard before. While some people complained after the show that they heard a lot of repeating, I hadn’t seen the band since Thanksgiving, and almost all of what I heard felt fresh and new to me.
Following ‘Ringo’ was one of my favorite songs, ‘Pay the Snucka’ which was cut short with a transition into ‘The Crooked One’ a song that I was not very familiar with, but apparently did not get finished. By this time I was extremely hot and exhausted up front and needed to take a quick break. Maneuvering back through the sold out crowd was no easy task. I stopped several times along the journey and stood in awe of how crowded the room was. Everyone feeling the same energy and responding positively by dancing and singing along. There really wasn’t a face in the entire crowd that didn’t have a smile on it. A truly beautiful thing to see!
I made my way back into the main hall just in time to hear UM come out of ‘When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What’s Still Around’ and back into ‘Pay the Snucka’ which finished the song and the first set in a powerful and crowd pleasing manner. The surge of sweat dripping bodies slowly made it’s way to the exit doors which were the only relief from the heat of the show. I took my time letting people filter out and then made my way up to the balcony where I’d stay for the second.
Set two arrived with a bang as the entire crowd sung along to ‘Divisions,’ a perfectly placed song that warmed everyone up. The lyrics to this song always give me the goosebumps, and adding a thousand plus people singing along just made it a monumental moment. Before finishing we slipped into ‘Day Nurse’ which was on several friend’s wish lists. The jam for this song cooled everyone down for a moment and got them swaying and gently grooving along. The chill and relaxed groove didn’t last for long at all though as Umphrey’s then exploded into a super heavy ‘I Want You(She’s So Heavy)’ which put the crowd energy over the top and almost blew the lid off the Canopy. A friend of mine often jokes that Umphrey’s is the best cover band out there, and after hearing ‘I Want You’ played this perfectly I’d have to agree that it really doesn’t get any better than this. ‘Hurt Bird Bath’ followed keeping the energy of the room at a maximum and ‘FF’ was the tension release that brought the room back down to a gentle sway. The crowd by this point looked like they had been on a roller coaster ride and had just walked off. Lots of love in the room with many people giving high fives, and hugs to those around them. It’s one of those moments that really sticks out from the evening, because it felt like a giant family, which in all honesty it was for this evening at the Canopy Club.
‘FF’ slowly took off into ‘Go to Hell’ which Waful’s lights became very psychedelic for, often times illuminating the backdrop with colored patterns while keeping the stage dimmed or solid red or blue. This made for a perfect zenith in the atmosphere of the room. A very zen like place with everyone extremely locked in on what they were seeing and hearing. The set came to an end with a fairly extended version of ‘Much Obliged’ that turned right back into the beginning of the set and finished off ‘Divisions.’ This set ender was high energy and definitely what united the entire crowd for one last time of the evening. Ending ‘Divisions’ and thanking the electrified crowd led to demanded screams of an encore. After a few moments Umphrey’s took to the Canopy stage once again.
For the encore they pulled out ‘Domino Theory’ which was to me a weird choice after not playing a single song from the new album. While myself and others I talked to didn’t think was the strongest choice of encore, I personally enjoyed hearing a song that I hadn’t really heard live very often. I thought the jam from ‘Domino Theory’ was enjoyable, but was saddened when this was the only song for the encore. Nothing about the encore could destroy the wonderful night I’d had though, and I know all of my friends that came along felt the same way.