Umphrey’s goes “Bowl”ing


Umphrey’s McGee : UMBowl II
Park West
Chicago, IL
April 2, 2011

Since 1998, Umphreys McGee has been getting in the grimy spots and really tweaking their music. They have amassed a legion of loyal fans, and on Saturday, April 2, they decided to see how that mass of 700 Umphreaks would call the shots if given the opportunity.  

This was was not a normal night where the six-headed monster went through their usual setlist creation and subsequent crowd-melting repertoire. Rather, on this night the crowd was the setlist.


It was quite simple – fans called the shots via cell phones and text messages.

This was the second annual UMBowl, where Umphreaks gathered in a sold out affair ready to text and make the best rock show possible. The show was held in four "quarters," or sets if you will, and each quarter had a theme.

The first quarter was entitled "Choose Your Own Adventure" and gave fans the choice of songs, letting them text a number to vote. The song with the most votes would be played next. The intensity kicked off immediately, as Jake Cinninger’s lead guitar and Kris Myer’s drums came out roaring on the always great "Jazz Odyseey," which segued into a "Jimmy Stewart" that got the entire crowd moving.

First Quarter setlist

Jazz Odyssey > Jimmy Stewart > In the Kitchen, Bonafide Lovin’ > Jimmy Stewart > Q Bert > All in Time

The second quarter was a "Stew Art" event that called for everyone to dive in their pockets, grab their phones, and text whatever was on their minds. The ones that were picked were displayed on a big screen and the band would play what appeared. The choices could have been anything, from a theme to a song, or maybe even a much desired cover. "Waful Meets Disco Ball" was definitely a crowd favorite, As the great lights and thick bass from Ryan Stasik raged on, the crowd found themselves in a video game, where it was all lights, camera, action for Jeff Waful.

Second Quarter setlist

Bring the Funk, Classical Regulate, Heavy Metal Dance Party, Waful Meets Disco Ball, Soaring Uplifting Jam, Tool Meets Umphrey’s, Moog Cocktail, Take Us to Church, Ambient Jam, I’m in a Video Game, NFL Lockout Jam

The third quarter was "Special Teams," where band members switched instruments and had special guest and former UM drummer Mike Mirro sit in. Solos, duos, trios, and quartets were all used to full effect. It gave the crowd a whole new experience, and really showcased the band’s talent. Sans a few rough spots with Kris on guitar, it sounded great. Moreover, it was fun and made for an unforgettable set. 

spady_umbowl2011_20.jpgThird Quarter setlist

Ruled by Secrecy (Joel Cummins solo, first time played, Muse cover), Untitled (Brendan Bayliss solo on keys, first time played, original), Going to California (Jake on acoustic guitar, and Brendan on mandolin, Led Zeppelin cover), Untitled (Jake and Ryan first time played, original), Heard It Through the Grapevine (Jake, Ryan Stasik, and Andy Farag, Marvin Gaye cover), Great American (Jake on drums, Ryan, Andy, and Joel), Big Bottom (Jake, Ryan, Andy, and Brendan on bass, Joel on keytar, and Kris on drums), FF (Ryan and Kris on guitar, Brendan on Bass, Jake on keys, Andy on drums, and Joel on percussion with Jake on Moog Taurus, Ryan on iPhone, Brendan and Joel on keys, Kris on drums, and Andy on percussion), Jam (with Jake on moog Taurus, Ryan on iPhone, Brendan and Joel on keys, Kris on drums, and Andy on percussion), Much Obliged (original UM lineup: Brendan, Joel, Ryan, and Mike Mirro on drums), In Violation of Yes (Jake on bass, Brendan on guitar, Joel and Ryan on keys, Andy and Mike on percussion, and Kris on drums)

The fourth quarter was comprised of attendee votes. When fans received their tickets, they were given a ballot to vote. Anything from dub versions of new songs to older favorites could be chosen, with the exception of "Bob" and "Nachos for Two."

As soon as this set kicked off with a bluegrass take on "Nothing Too Fancy," everyone knew that they were about to witness something special. As Bayliss came into "Divisions," the crowd audibly reply with joy. As Bayliss’ underrated voice sang the song to perfection, the band broke into "Glory." Numerous fans had tears in their eyes as the soaring solos began.

Fourth Quarter setlist

Nothing Too Fancy > Mrs. Robinson’s Strut, Divisions > Glory > Divisions, A Fifth of Beethoven, Blue Echo, 1348 > Jimmy Stewart > Blue Echo > 1348, Tom Sawyer (first time played, Rush cover), Another Brick in the Wall/ Thriller Mashup (Pink Floyd and Michael Jackson covers)


Click the thumbnail to view the photo gallery from UMBowl II by Brian Spady