Thursday, June 28, 2007

Umphrey's McGee - Live 6.27.07 - Charlottesville, VA

The D.U.M.B Tour
Umphrey’s McGee co-headlining with The Disco Biscuits
Charlottesville Pavilion – Charlottesville, VA
June 27, 2007, 6:50PM

Whenever there is a jamband-y show at the Charlottesville Pavilion, the pedestrian mall leading up to the venue gets taken over by swarms of hippies. This amuses me to no end. You can see the look of terror on locals’ faces as they’re dining at the outdoor cafés and are suddenly engulfed in a sea of tie-dye, dreadlocks, and patchouli. It’s one of the few times and places where you witness the awkward, and hilarious, intermingling of the hippies and the squares.

Sadly, I didn’t have time to take all that in like I usually do. I was running late, and my bladder was about to explode. I rushed through the hippie promenade and got to the Pavilion just in time to hear Umphrey’s take the stage. I still hadta pee, and let me tell you, the bathrooms are such an upgrade from the porta-potties that used to be there. Also, LADIES, some really generous female fans of Umphrey’s McGee (a group called 2nd Self) came up with just about the greatest idea I’ve ever seen. They placed baskets of feminine products, hand lotion, condoms, mints, etc. next to all the sinks. How extremely sweet and much appreciated!

I grabbed my first beer and weaved through the crowd. I counted at least 4 Tool shirts on my way to the front, confirming my theory that Umphrey’s is the Tool fans jamband. I made it to the stage at the exact moment they started into the second song of the evening, a long-time favorite of mine, “Jimmy Stewart.”

Plunger > “Jimmy Stewart” > Plunger > The Fuzz > Partyin’ Peeps, Wizard Burial Ground, Thin Air, Great American > Got Your Milk (Right Here), All In Time, YYZ

The crowd was visibly sluggish from the muggy heat, but “Partyin’ Peeps” got everyone moving and getting their groove on. ♪ The beat is kickin’ in, we’ve got a second wind ♪ Brendan Bayliss’ voice has a quality that breaks into my brain and captures me, very similar to the effect of Incubus’ Brandon Boyd. This is not to diminish the impact of the other band members, since 4 out of the 6 of them are equally active and talented with the vocals. The tightness of the ensemble is impressive; everything they do is gleaming. If they were ever out of step, I didn’t notice it. They improvise and jam, but they serve up their noodles al denté. In one song, they are playing synchronized runs that conjure images of the Allman Brothers, in the next song, they sound like Iron Maiden. Their newest, “Wizard Burial Ground,” was heavy and totally bad ass. Then Joel Cummins brings this jazzy piano solo, paving the way for the percussionists to infuse yet another genre into the mix – bongos + steel drum = Caribbean. Towards the end of their set, Bayliss reenacted Chappelle’s “Tyrone Shuffle”, which seemed to go unnoticed by everyone but me. Brendan, if you read this, I saw that and I cheered! They closed out with a stellar cover of Rush’s “YYZ” (teasing “Spirit of Radio” at the end) which left me even hungrier for more. They’re playing in Norfolk, VA tonight…damn this day job! As the roadies set up for the Disco Biscuits, I found myself wishing that it wasn’t a co-bill. Bisco is alright, but they just don’t do it for me like Umphrey’s McGee.

PS: A thanks to my special friend who made this evening possible

Monday, June 25, 2007

Drive-By Truckers - Live 6.22.07 - Richmond, VA

Drive-By Truckers
Brown’s Island in Richmond, VA
June 22, 2007; 6:00 PM
Opening Act: Patty Hurst Shifter

The Drive-By Truckers kick ass. This was my first time seeing them, but it will definitely not be the last (if I can help it). Why did it take me so long? Well, stupidly, I steered clear of these guys (and gal) for awhile. I wrongfully assumed I wouldn’t get into them because of the twang and storytelling, figured it was too much country for my liking. Then a couple years back, a friend played Southern Rock Opera for me. I did a complete 180. I had to burn a copy immediately.

To get me in the mood, I jammed out to The Dirty South on my drive down the mountain to Richmond. The weather was lovely on Friday night, warm with a nice breeze. We missed most of the opening band, Patty Hurst Shifter, while in line for wristbands and beer. Luckily, the crowd was small enough that we managed to stake a spot up front, center stage. At about 8:00 pm, the Truckers came out, passing a fifth of Jack Daniels while they tuned their instruments. Patterson’s big ‘ole grin is instantly engaging and infectious. “I love you too, fucker,” he replies to a cheering fan as they launch into the first song.

Bulldozers and Dirt
Uncle Frank
After The Scene Dies (NEW – Patterson)
A Ghost To Most (NEW – Cooley)
The Living Bubba
Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife (NEW – Patterson)
Marry Me
Self Destructive Zones
Tales Facing Up
18 Wheels Of Love
Zip City
The Story Of The Road Cases
Road Cases
Shut Up And Get On The Plane
Let There Be Rock
Angels And Fuesalage
Buttholeville->State Trooper->Buttholeville

The highlight of the night for me was the second half of the set – especially “18 Wheels of Love”, a song that’s rarely played. Patterson told a hilarious story of the song’s history – how his mother went to work at a trucking company, met Chester the truck driver, and this song was Patterson’s wedding gift to them. “They were married at Dollywood – I can not make this shit up,” he said. He then told the crowd that Chester has been quite sick as of late, and he was dedicating the night’s performance to him and a speedy recovery. Keep him in your prayers. “Road Cases” was another great one, introduced with a story about the rise and fall of the Atlanta Rhythm Section. “Let There Be Rock” had the whole crowd screaming along with fists raised in the air, “Bon Scott singin’ let there be rock!!!”

It was also cool to hear some of the new material. Patterson revealed that they had just started working on the album a few weeks ago, and they’d be back in December when it was finished. Scott Baxendale, custom guitar extraordinaire, joined the stage for the encore of “Buttholeville” into “State Trooper”.

I was sad to see them go after just one set, but I have no right to complain when it’s free!