Umphrey’s McGee, North Mississippi Allstars,
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band &Â The Twin Cats
Super Bowl Village
February 4, 2012
In 1970, Indianapolis mayor, Bill Hudnut decided that multiculturalism, and primarily sporting events, would be the way to revitalize his beloved Midwestern city. Over thirty years and, an NBA, NFL and a professional baseball team later, it has become apparent that the man knew what he was doing.
With all of this activity, the natural course has ensued and has included a vast overhaul of the city and its metro area. There are hotels for every budget and eateries for every penchant. There is the Lawn at White River, an exceptional venue to catch a show at in the warmer months, and of course, there is the hosting venue of Super Bowl XLVI and home of the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium
With ten days of Super Bowl XLVI festivities, the city of Indianapolis combined all of its preexisting attractions. Furthermore, it,Â in coordination with the NFL, also built the Super Bowl Village, a sensory explosive environment for all ages and most likings.
Within this temporarily erected community that stood tall across the city blocks of downtown Indy, locals and tourists alike took part in everything from interactive football based activities to live music from some of the country’s best, that thankfully left the often discounted jam souls fully satiated.
Though anyone with musical depth beyond that of the shallow end of a pothole puddle is still scratching their head about this, human gridlock had been created as a result of the LMFAO concert that headlined Friday night’s Village music festivities; drawing in an estimated 50,000 pre and post-pubescent fans.
Chalking that up to the “each/own” category, those with a taste for flavors that last for more than 15 minutes were not deterred from setting out for Saturday’s festivities that included sets from Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Twin Cats, O.A.R., North Mississippi Allstars and Umphrey’s McGee.
Overnight, the temperatures dropped to the low 30s and a drizzly mixture of nastiness made for a grey and chilly wintry mix for Saturday. The giant street warmers in the village every couple of blocks warmed chilled hands and noses as folks made their way to the Verizon Stage for The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band.
The band kicked off the afternoon at 2:00 PM with “My Soul I Keep,” the Reverend driving his 1934 wood bodied National Trojan Resonator with the utmost of precision and quickness as he was met by his wife, Breezy Peyton, on washboard. It was clear that Peyton and his Big Band had come to The Circle City to deliver their brand of heated Delta blues like a swarm crocs sliding down the downtown streets; sub-zero temperatures be damned.
The Reverend was quick to switch to his 1930 steel bodied National guitar for “Mama’s Fried Potatoes” while drummer Aaron “Cuz” Persinger held the rhythm down and Breezy’s thimble adorned riffs ripped across her washboard put the finishing touches on the number, causing everyone to get on their toes.
Reverend Peyton’s banter is one to be noted. His gruff manner demands that you listen to him as he growls out hilarious commentary. “Worn Out Shoes,” he has described, is their “Ike and Tina tune” because it “starts out nice and gets rough.” On this brisk afternoon, before a crowd that was split with folks that were familiar with the bearded lumberjack looking fella and those who were clueless as to who in the hell he was, Peyton proved every word as the chilly weather did nothing to dampen the mood of those in attendance.
The Official Blue Monkey Sideshow, an act similar to that of Jim Rose’s Circus Sideshow (circa 1990s era Lollapaloozas), joined the band on stage and had the crowd mesmerized as a performer walked across hot coals while another hung a bowling ball from his earlobes, swinging it back and forth. It was enough to draw Umphrey’s McGee’s Brendan Bayliss out from the woodwork to witness the freakish circus-like shenanigans.
Following the freakshow, The Reverend brought out a 3 string cigar box guitar for a crowd favorite, “Easy Come Easy Go” that found Breezy’s background vocals matching the harmony of the box with flawless parallelism.
The set ended with a high voltage number, “Two Bottles of Wine,” that for whatever reason prompted Breezy to step to the front of the stage and give her version of a salute to an attending security guard: a snarl and pelvic thrust.
As Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band exited the stage, music from The Twin Cats performing down the street on the Pepsi Stage filled the streets. The big screen behind where Rev. Peyton had been playing moments before lit up with the sights from the band that was creating the sound, summoning Rev. Peyton attendees to give up their spaces on the rail — that was primarily being held down by Umphrey’s McGee fans –Â to walk down and check out the five piece super jazz funk band.
Unlike the main stage, the Pepsi Stage was not blocked off by an ever changing maze of metal barricades. Therefore, moving and shaking freely was possible. This was definitely a good thing considering that the jazzy funk of The Twin Cats is as highly danceable as it is.
The set opened with a long and hypnotic serving of “Bonefish Groove.” The strong rhythmic groove of Cameron Reel’s bass and drum work of Adam Catron drove the funk to the foreground while the guitar work of Catron’s front man brother, Seth, coupled with the play of keyboardist of Nick Gerlach and saxophonist Phil Geyer laid in the soul.
The set churned on with “Face and Chimera” and ever so surely, the crowd increased and hula-hoopers eventually took over the Astroturf that had been placed down throughout the Village as part of the events’ efforts to turn the scene into a miniature summer-like festival of sorts.
The Umphreaks who were still riding the rail on the opposite end of the event unfortunately missedÂ Kris Myers (drummer, Umphrey’s McGee) sitting in with The Cats for “Jan Jan.” Both the song and the guest had the crowd cheering and beaming, with the Twin Cats sporting the cheesiest grins of the night as they played the heavily percussive tune.
With a few hours to kill between the much anticipated Umphrey’s McGee set, many took the opportunity to take in a bit of the Village. The city had set up a zip line and there was also the opportunity to indulge in the NFL experience or just wander into local bars and celebrate the eve of the Super Bowl.
As the sun set, the drizzly mixture of rain and ice abated and folks crammed in as tightly as they could to see improvisational progressive rock beast, also known as Umphrey’s McGee.
Ryan Stasik (bass) jaunted on stage sporting a Troy Polamalu jersey, representing his birthplace and home of six time Super Bowl champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Keyboardist/vocalist Joel Cummins daringly sauntered up to the microphone, posing the rhetorical “how’s everybody doing?”. In reply, he received a maddening shriek from the devotedly frozen multitude that had waited all day for the set from the Chicago based jam sultans.
Kris Myers (drums/vocals) and Andy Farag (percussion) kicked off the set with “Conduit,” and the pace was set with the layering of Jake Cinninger’s intricate opening guitar riff that transitioned into the amazing vocals and guitar framework from Brendan Bayliss.
The groovy tune melded into “In the Kitchen.” Beginning with a smooth jazzy introductory movement, the construction of the number was mesmerizing — building into a crescendo, cresting and then quietly sinking into a mesmerizing take on “Glory” before transitioning back into its former and closing.
The set continued with two tracks (“Domino Theory” and “Booth Love”) from the ensemble’s most recent studio effort, Death By Stereo. The latter, though spread equally amongst all parts, centered in the relationship between Cinninger and lighting director, Jefferson Walful. The melding of Cinninger’s recent ability to not overplay a tune coupled with the light show of Walful elevated the mood of the crowd to an all new place. Rather than simply supplying the thrashing facemelting sentiments for which UM is so classically known, this number effectively demonstrated the band’s efficiency for creating a mellow vibe and their ability to provide plenty of room for one to go to headspace, should he choose to do so.
After rocketing into “Push the Pig” and even older favorite, “Miss Tinkles Overture,” the quintet pushed the envelope even further with a crowd pleasing rendition of The Whoâ€™s “Baba Oâ€™Riley,” filling the streets with a sensational lyrical extravaganza; an echoing “teenage wasteland” cry being howled to the moon over Indianapolis.
After the set closed with Ryan Stasik owning his bass in “Puppet String,” the Pepsi Stage once again lit up with the band who was playing opposite. This time, it was the North Mississippi Allstars. So the crowd made the trek once again.
The sound of southern blues rock of the North Mississippi Allstars filled the streets and grabbed the attention of the attendees and once again had everyone migrating towards the smaller second stage. The trio, Luther Dickinson (guitar/vocals) brother Cody Dickinson (drums) and Chris Chew tore up the small stage. After spending 2011 as a duo, it is especially nice to see Big Chris Chew back in the slot that so many had become so used to him filling for so many years. (Luther Dickinson explains Chew’s absence here)
The trio made their way through portions of their catalogue, but the set was unfortunately extremely short. However, the short set did not stop the ensemble from extensively jamming at times, with Luther wielding a few weapons from his vast cache, including his cigar box guitar. From “Shake ’em Down” to “Lordy Lord,” Â the Allstars did what they do: bring a piece of their region to every stop and leave just a smidgeÂ of their soul when they depart.
The eve of the Super Bowl was one that the jam scene in the area will hold close to their hearts for the foreseeable future. Showcasing local and regional talents, the smaller crowd of Saturday was relished by all. As the lights were cut off at the stages, the bar lights blasted and the festivities simply moved into the warm and dry indoor venues. Even though the day had been long, there was no way that the crowd was ready to hang it up quite yet. Are we ever?
Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from the shows by Amber Jennings…