Umphrey’s McGee played First Avenue in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a three night stint, much to the delight of a barrage of fans that were given the choice of a of a three night pass or single night tickets. I have to admit that was pretty cool. If you like a band, getting the choice to purchase a special pass to attend multiple shows would be ideal. Neither of us had ever heard of this band, but we knew of their popularity and figured that it would be worth it to see them. Seeing such a band at First Avenue is really fun, in our opinion, so we thought, why not? We had no idea what kind of music they played or anything, which is interesting. Just go in to watch a show.
Neither of us are fans of jam bands. They have a style much like Phish, The Grateful Dead, and the like, which made me feel the urge to tear for the door upon hearing the first song. Although we don’t care for them, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. They are actually a very good band, just not our cup of tea. If you are into jam bands, I would highly recommend them. It’s amazing that they haven’t achieved higher mainstream success, at least one or two mainstream songs, because they deserve more acclaim.
The shows all consisted of two sets, one a bit more low key than the other. The first show began with a cover of “Controversy” by Prince, as Prince covers have now become the norm in Minneapolis by artists, especially those taking the stage at First Avenue. This is not a bad thing, as far as I am concerned. They also covered a number of other great artists over the three nights, creating versions that are very uniquely their own. Some artists consisted of Smashing Pumpkins (“Cherub Rock”), Led Zepplin (“Dancing Days”), The Police (“Walking on the Moon”) and many more. They were a nice addition to those who weren’t entirely familiar with their music.
Again, if you are into the jam music, these guys are fantastic. They deserve much more commendation than they have received. Seeing them at First Avenue was great. Although this is not my style of music, I do find it at least a bit more enjoyable in a more intimate environment such as a small club, versus a larger venue. So if you want to find a band to add to your collection of Phish records, get ahold of these guys. They know what they’re doing.