To close out their Winter Tour, Umphrey’s McGee wrapped things up at The Palace Theatre on February 21 alongside TAUK, a great pairing of bands both rising and established. For the first time, Umphrey’s was brought to the Palace and out of the doldrums of Upstate Concert Hall, and finally, Jefferson Waful’s lights could properly shine and the band could show they could fill a theatre in Albany-proper.
Opening up was the instrumental funk of TAUK, who only a year ago were playing Parish Public House to 100 or so fans. The growth of this band over the past year was remarkable and now a tour with Umphrey’s has only solidified their ascendance among the jam world. To cap the set, TAUKwas joined by Joel Cummins, Ryan Stasik and Andy Farag during “Mindshift”. TAUKis incredibly talented and worth seeing in any capacity.
Umphrey’s dove in deep for their tour closer and resurfaced only briefly for air in what was an entire rocker of a show. After an introductory “Dump City” the relatively light “Piranhas” and heavier “Educated Guess” off Similar Skin mixed the set up early, as well a shredding “Atmosfarag”. A 14 minute “Plunger” was a clear highlight of the first set, dropping into an exploratory jam that segued into “Andy’s Last Beer”. The fluidity exhibited by Umphrey’s is one of their musical trademarks amid what some may perceive as musical chaos and overly complicated compositions; what they are missing is the core of this prog-rock jam band and soaring peaks and valleys of songs and jams that few bands can come close to replicating.
“Wappy Sprayberry” with TAUK’s Alric Carter (keys) and Isaac Teel (drums) sitting in was a chance for these incredibly talented musicians to shine under a brighter spotlight. A clean segue into “Pay the Snucka” with a shredding ending capped a superior first set.
An abbreviated “All in Time” opened up the second set, seguing into the lyrically and musically powerful “Hajimashite” which launched into a great expanse of a jam, one not seen too often in “Haji”. The jam that ensued worked off of Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and dipped into the funk of “Day Nurse” accented by Joel Cummins’ airy synth framework.
“Phil’s Farm” took some huge swings and had a great pay off, with a bonus of the drummer from local band moe., Vinny Amico, sitting in on drums. Working back into August and into the closing of “All in Time” made for a filling second set sandwich and capped off a monster set from start to finish. A big “Bad Friday” encore was the icing on Umphrey’s first ever performance at the historic Palace Theatre, a perfect venue for them for the foreseeable future.
Set 1: Dump City, Piranhas, Educated Guess, Atmosfarag > Plunger > Andy’s Last Beer, The Weight Around, Wappy Sprayberry* > Pay the Snucka
Set 2: All in Time > Hajimashite > Day Nurse, Ringo, Phil’s Farm^, August > All in Time
Encore: Bad Friday
* with Isaac Teel and Alric Carter of TAUK
^ with Vinny Amico of moe.
After the show was over, fans flooded Pearl Street looking for their late night fix and a sold out crowd found just that at The Hollow. With Mister F performing, friends stopped by for a few songs, including Joel Cummins’ sitting in next to Scott Hannay on “Answer the Dog”, and an extended “Vocoder” jam featuring Alric Carter and Isaac Teel of TAUK as well as Justin Henricks of Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan.
Umphreys McGee gallery by Jim Gilbert
TAUK gallery by Jim Gilbert