Umphrey’s McGee – Fox Theater – Oakland, CA – 3/8/2014
Review By: Trevor Bexon
Daylight Savings Time in March is a common time for Umphrey’s McGee to be in the Northern California area. If you’re a fan of the band on the west coast, you can mark out this time to plan on seeing these guys somewhere in your backyard.
The first time UM played the Fox Theater in 2012 it was a big deal because it signified their growth on the west coast and it was the biggest venue they had played on this side of the country. The venue and band are a perfect fit for many reasons: venue size, light rigging possibilities, friendly staff, beautiful colors and statues throughout the venue all play a roll in the special feeling within the room. After attending UM at the Fox the past three years, I believe this year was the largest attendance yet.
The opening intro was the “Jaws Theme”, which is always a sign of good times ahead. I really enjoy how UM uses intros to their shows; it allows the band to take the stage with force in a different and powerful way, especially on the west coast where the crowds are laid back and not as ferocious as other parts of the country. The crowd this year was high energy and fully into it from the opening notes until everyone stepped outside onto the streets after the show.
Set one: In The Kitchen > Mullet (Over), There’s No Crying In Mexico > Spires, Glory > Wife Soup, Nothing Too Fancy> In Bloom, Wappy Sprayberry > In The Kitchen.
The meat of the first set was “Nothing Too Fancy” through “In the Kitchen” to end the set. The energy was high at the beginning but the roof was blown off with the last 4 songs, bringing us to setbreak and craving for the lights to go down for the second set. A lot of talk during setbreak offered surprise at such a powerful first set.
The first set provided a dance party atmosphere, while the second set provided more of a musical journey with beautiful flow. One of the things I really enjoy about UM is they can provide a set or a show with amazing flow. It allows you to go on a journey through the music; the ups and downs and emotions within the music carry you away for a few hours and deeply immerses you into the UM experience. As with any musical experience, you must focus, and I find this to be even more true with UM compared to other bands.
Set two: Wizard Burial Ground, Bad Friday, Mulche’s Odyssey, Tango Mike > Higgins, Life During Exodus, Partyin’ Peeps – Encore: Bridgeless > Regulate > Bridgeless.
The “Wizard Burial Ground” set the tone for the second set. “Bad Friday” was cool to hear and they are starting to extend it a bit which is a nice treatment. “Life During Exodus” mashup was really something to hear, I love their mashups and this one brought the energy. The encore was not only “Bridgeless” but also a sandwich with “Regulate” thrown in there. It was cool to hear Andy Farag doing his rap with the tune at the front of the stage.
One of the thoughts I had during the show was how the band has grown in developing a rock and roll sound and production that fills theaters in an impressive manner. Having seen UM in smaller venues, most only a couple hundred people, it was great to see them dominate the big Fox Theater in such masterful fashion.
Next time Daylight Savings Time rolls around be sure to “spring forward” to the west coast and check out UM at the Fox, it will properly jump start your live music year ahead.