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Monday, March 25

Umphrey's McGee - The Wilma Theater -Missoula, MT - 3/9/2013

Umphrey's returned to the Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula this past March 9th for a powerfully intact showing. As they begin their 15th year anniversary tour they are showing that after years of playing together, getting to know each other better than their own families and becoming a more of a singular unit, they have a reached a definitive high point in their storied career.
Starting off the show to a nearly sold-out crowd they jumped into the intricately beautiful and likewise powerful “1348”, the song which showcases each members of the bands strengths was executed with needle like precision and got the floor moving from zero to one-hundred in a matter of moments.
The improv heavy jam vehicle slowly morphed into a a two punch of “Wife's Soup” and “Room to Breath”, giving the dancing fans a moment to reflect on the amazingly quick start to the show.
Bayliss took lead guitar for much of this portion of the show, showcasing his ability to shred and tear it up just as viciously as his guitar counterpart Jake Cinninger. “Through the Cracks” was another spectacle of speed and velocity that soon gave way to “Puppet String”, the most unpredictable song of the first set, with “Jimmy Stewart” like jamming smashed in the middle as the vocals also took on a very improvisational taste. It was a musical meal fit for kings, and the band was carrying the stage underneath the breathtaking lights of Jefferson Waful, as they all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Last years show in Missoula was all about Stasik and his stage antics and ability to anchor the band with his fret jumping bass lines, tonight is was a group effort, from Myers and Farag on percussion, to Cummins' on keys it was truly a full band affair. The “Jimmy Stewart” treat was met with a sandwich that included “Intentions Clear”, Bayliss' singing right on mark into “White Pickle” before landing again back where this jam started with a closing out of “Puppet String”. It was a classic way to tear up and light on the fire the entire first set.

The second set came with much anticipation from the crowd, who at this point was ready for hi-octane playing, and wasn't ready to rest on their laurels. Either was Umphrey's. Again to open a set in mad-dash fashion they jammed “Mulche's Odyssey”, a song that builds with heavy rhythm sections being complimented by the segmented and growing guitar riffs, it was drawn out, jammed and mirrored the opening energy that “1348” brought. “Slacker” was next which while a short interlude compared to the other jams at hand it contained some interesting “Dump City” teases that kept it very live and real. The short “Slacker” segued into “Sweetness” and quickly back into “Slacker”, it was another very tight sandwich, showing how tight the band was playing. Little did we know.
The next song, while not the bust out of the night was a full on treat of all kinds. “Jessica”, the Allman Brother's classic was tackled by the sextet with near-perfection. It was a ten minute take on the instrumental classic that they took no risks on, but rather executed with razor sharp accuracy. This is when the show got fun, as they jammed out and funky “FF”, with it's hip-hop beats it had old school written all over it, and then a first time bust out, as they gave props to Biggie Smalls and debuted “Big Poppa”. It was not their best material but it was fun and lasted only 4 minutes letting them close out the show with a HUGE twenty minute jam, rock, metal, drum heavy “All In Time”. The encore consisted of another great cover, this time Led Zeppelin's “Fool In The Rain” which got huge cheers from an already satisfied crowd. With their heads spinning as the gauntlet of great music was overwhelming intense, they delved back into “1348”, closing the show where they started, with high energy and with a crowd full of happily danced out fans.
Umphrey's 15th anniversary tour, from all one can tell is off to a raucous start. With great lightning fast playing, some of the best lighting in the business by Waful, and diverse yet extremely challenging set lists, Umphrey's third year in Missoula was by far their best yet.
Set 1: 1348 > Wife Soup, Room to Breathe, Kabump -> Through the Cracks, Puppet String[1] > Intentions Clear > White Pickle > Puppet String
Set 2: Mulche's Odyssey, Slacker[2] > Sweetness > Slacker, Jessica, FF > Big Poppa[3], All In Time
Encore: Fool In The Rain > 1348
[1] "Jimmy Stewart" with lyrics
[2] with Dump City teases
[3] debut, The Notorious B.I.G.; instrumental, with Brendan on keys

Support: The Bright Light Social Hour

Words: Samuel Martin
Photos: Kevin Kenly

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