Umphreyâ€™s McGee Brings Real Rock Back to the Motor City
DETROIT, MI – Expectations were high for the return of UM to Detroit, and a sold-out crowd at the Fillmore found their dancing shoes were a necessity for the non-stop onslaught that faced them. The venue filled slowly due to a late-winter snow storm that left many motorists stranded on local roads.
Chicago-based Orchard Lounge (downtempo DJ) opened the show and was a great improvement over basic house music, but their position stage right next to Myersâ€™ drum kit left them fairly hidden. Enjoyable beats, but the party didnâ€™t start until six grown men came on stage, hands above their heads, horns held high, and welcomed the crowd.
Umphreyâ€™s came out hitting hard with Walletsworth and were obviously pretty pumped to be playing this size venue to a packed house. The first thing to notice? This sounds different. Drums went â€œTAT TAT TATâ€ like machine guns. Separation between instrumental voices seemed greater, and somehow, with the very same gear, new Sound Engineer Mitchell had expanded the range available inside that PA. Bayliss and Joelâ€™s vocals sounded crisp and clean, no distortion – theyâ€™re taking it to a completely different level. Compared to the sound from the NYE run in Chicago, itâ€™s as if someone took the cotton out of your ears and replaced your ipod earbuds with Sennheisers.
Sound Enginner Kevin Browningâ€™s recent departure back to the home office left some large shoes to fill, but luckily Chris Mitchell, sporting sleeves of tattoos and a Nuclear Engineering degree from the Navy, was all over it. In talking with Cinninger after the show, the men are completely in awe of his aural skills, and have noticed a marked difference than the usual â€œWall of Soundâ€ that Browning helped develop over his over-a-decade-long stint as â€œSound Caresserâ€ (Also his handle on Twitter).
Jajunk showed the same intensity and crispness. Each cymbal hit and percussion note were clear as day, maybe Myersâ€™ plexi drum shroud was helping here? Maybe itâ€™s just the acoustics of the venue. The harmony voices of Jajunk seemed to be just that – in complete harmony. Bayliss and Cinningerâ€™s guitars seemed to have new life, their strings eeking out a bit more electricity in the cold of Detroit. The jam progressed into a staccato-inspired organ and the crowd screamed, â€œTake us to church Joel.â€
Bayliss still has the lyrics to Wellwishers taped to his music stand, but didnâ€™t seem to glance to them during the vocal-heavy, newer material.
Set One went on to Get in the Van (maybe a tribute to the UM Fan Bus set up by MIDWESTpeeps?) followed by The Bottom Half (crowd goes wild, Baylissâ€™ mic levels missing at the beginning). The newly minted Go To Hell is becoming extremely tight as they continue to work on it. Probably some of the best heavy-metal-inspired guitar work theyâ€™re doing at the moment, and played right before the almost-country Susanah. Weâ€™re treated to a story about them playing the Berkley Front to 10 people, and then they teased â€œStart me Upâ€. Set one closed out with Rushâ€™s Instrumental YYZ again showcasing increased chops and technical prowess, as well as a spectacular drum solo by Myers, â€œThe Midwestâ€™s new Ted Nugentâ€, a tease of Tom Sawyer at the end, and weâ€™re done.
Second set opens with a 15-minute Hurt Bird Bath that was a mini-concert in its own, showcasing some inspired keyboard playing, real-time delay effects mastery on the guitars, and a Crazy Train tease in the middle. Reggae/backbeat-inspired Deeper was up next, slowing things down a bit and getting the crowdâ€™s hips swaying.
But the shocker of the night would come with a 1348, (which come to find out is a reference to the Black Plague). The build-up seemed slower than usual, but with fiercer scratches on the guitars. They sounded almost like hovering helicopters. At about the 8:30 mark, the jam erupts into Another One Bites the Dust and a dance party ensued.
Other mentionables would be the encores – Segerâ€™s Night Moves (played last summer under the stars at Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids) and a Hajimemashite to end the show. And like many nights, that wasnâ€™t really the end. A quick trip on the MIDWESTpeeps FanBus (that hit Lexinton and Columbus before Detroit) up to the Magic Stick with a Joel and Jake ride-along found Mr. Cinninger sitting in with Michiganâ€™s own Macpodz. Which wouldnâ€™t be necessarily that amazing, except for he was playing the DRUM KIT. Great end to a great night.
The Fillmore Detroit has been completely renovated thanks to an influx of investment from Live Nation, and the venue staff, environment, and look all made for an amazing atmosphere to rock.
To download the lossless file head over to The Archive.
To download the MP3’s of this show click here
Set One: Walletsworth, JaJunk, Wellwishers, Get In the Van, The Bottom Half , Go to Hell, Susanah, YYZ
Set Two: Hurt Bird Bath*, Deeper, 1348** > Roulette, 40’s Theme, Robot World > Sociable Jimmy$ > 1348
Encore: Night Moves, Hajimemashite
* with Crazy Train tease
** with Another One Bites the Dust jam
$ with Xxplosive tease