Umphrey’s McGee returns to the Tabernacle for NYE 2012

photo 2While many bands opted to spend the last few days of 2012 close to home, Umphrey’s McGee migrated to their royal embassy in the south, The Tabernacle, for a sold-out 4-night run. The church-building-turned-music-hall became a temple of rock, where they offered up a bubbling cauldron of prog stew. The halls were teeming with a mess of Stasik ‘staches, derogatory Umphrey’s shirts, and that guy who fell into the bathroom stall and broke it, all ready to get down to a Hotlanta Hootenanny.

The four days proved to be a dazzling mix of fan favorites, rarities, debuts and Jimmy Stewarts that had everyone up to get down. All but one of the shows kicked off with a new set opener, one of which (“Leave Me Las Vegas”) is a theme that has popped up in a couple of jams lately (most recently at this years Bear Creek Music Festival as a heavy highlight in “Resolution”).

Some of the newer tunes made an appearance including the first full debut of “Cut the Cable”, a song that has a captivating groovability and frayed edges, woven with well-constructed vocal patches. It seems to grab the attention of fans new and oldUmphrey's McGee (like Joel!) the way “Crucial Taunt” has been doing since Summer Camp this year.

Additionally, the band introduced a few new covers that showcased their unquestionable range from Nine Inch Nails to Wang Chung. UM has garnered tremendous expectations from fans when it comes to the covers in their repertoire and these new ones kept the bar up high.  Their cover of NIN’s “Wish” was pure explosive perfection with an eye-spasming presentation by their lighting designer Jeff Waful (stunningly silhouetted below). Along with “Kashmir”, came a first time “Hey, Hey What Can I Do” to round out a meticulously executed Zeppelin salute. Bass player Ryan Stasik dedicated “Dance Hall Days” to his beautiful wife, who received plenty of cheers along with a subdued grumble from a few female Umphrey’s fans.

But the people didn’t just come for covers and new stuff.

Umphrey's McGeeUmphrey’s laid down a fire bed of fury with some out-of-this-world versions of set staples. “Bright Lights, Big City” had the kind of energy that only comes when guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger get their hands back on their electrics after a six song acoustic binge (which was a true treat). “Ringo” had everything from a heavily sped- up take on the common chromatic go-to in the first jam to a ghastly, spectral Eminem tease in the second. Another highlight from the weekend was the crowd participation during “Hangover” in pulling off the “break out the booty wax/it’s Saturday night” chant. This was started a couple of times by Brendan this year, but this time the crowd beat him to it with floor-shaking enthusiasm. “Triple Wide” had a fulfilling, built-in dance party complete with Mad Dog’s Filthy Little Secret and Jeff Coffin lending their helping hands all the way through the countdown (also shown below).

Throughout the run their regulars set off a barnburner as hot as a habañero eye drop and their bust outs fell right in line, keeping the crowd rowdy. “Roulette” and “Water” (both only played a couple of times this year) got called into action and a monstrous “Kula” was brought out of the ashes of 2010. “Kabump” was Umphrey's McGeesandwiched inside of “Nemo” and definitely got everyone moving their feet. “White Pickle” and “Night Nurse” made appearances in the setlists for some spunky get-downs and “Gulf Stream” brought everyone closer with its friendly lyrics. And to round it all out, a quite rare and beautifully performed “Rocker Pt. 1” had everyone a little misty-eyed, played for the first time in 444 shows.

If those four days are any indication of what’s to come in 2013, people are going to need extra underwear to replace more than just the bras that end up on stage. Umphrey’s McGee will be back at it on Jan. 16 in Buffalo, NY where they begin their spring tour, which is announced through March. Two sold out Aspen shows at the beginning of that month will get things brewing for their west coast fix. Tour dates can be found at umphreys.com and all four nights of the 2012 New Years run are available for download at umlive.net.

[Photo Credit: Natalie Raulin]

[Video Credit: Kevin Arpin]

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