Umphrey’s in the Holy City


Umphrey’s McGee
The Music Farm
Charleston, South Carolina
November 16, 2008

Umphrey’s McGee’s most recent stop in the Holy City was nothing less than a raucous Sunday evening party that drew an enthusiastic crowd from near and far.  The nearly sold out show didn’t quite fill the Music Farm to capacity, leaving just enough room for dancing and facilitating interactive circulation among the energetic crowd.

um1.jpgIn an atmosphere similar to that of a frat house basement, one wouldn’t necessarily expect to encounter such technically advanced and precise musicianship.  While UM is certainly a band with their own distinctive sound, the musical diversity within their repertoire is generally confined to 80’s style shredding guitar solos, long and progressive spacey jams, solid rock and roll, all peppered with dance-conductive electronic beats.  This Charleston show treated fans to a number of well-performed classic Umphrey’s songs as well as a couple rare treats.

The band opened strong with an extended hard-hitting “2×2” that ignited an all-out frenzy among the crowd.  Each subsequent song throughout the first set seemed to propel the energy to a higher level.

The “All In Time” sandwich was the definite highlight of the first set – if not the entire show.  It was punctuated with a crowd-pleasing “Robot Jam” into a short cover of Traffic’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” which gave the crowd a chance to load their bearings before the segue way back into “All In Time” to close out an intense first set.


um2.jpgThe second set, although enjoyable, was not quite as impressive as the first – with a few exceptions.  The band didn’t seem as tight as they had in the first set, and their sound began to seem borderline redundant. 

This isn’t to say the set didn’t have its moments, however – there were still many dropped jaws throughout the crowd throughout the entire evening.  “Atmosfarag” and “Hurt Bird Bath” were unquestionably the high points of the second set, and the “I Ran” encore was a very befitting way to end the show.

While UM’s sound is an unquestionably distinct flavor that may not necessarily appeal to the masses, especially the more jam-oriented crowds, there is no denying their overall talent and impressive musicianship.  It’s a band with extensive technical skill that certainly deserves proper recognition. 

Fans and critics alike often say that an Umphrey’s performance is hit or miss, and it’s no doubt that both would agree that their stop in Charleston could be classified as a hit – an all around good show. 

Set 1: 2×2, Partyin’ Peeps, JaJunk, All In Time > Can’t Find My Way Home > All In Time

Set 2: Believe the Lie, Atmosfarag > Much Obliged -> 2nd Self, Search 4, Hurt Bird Bath

Encore: I Ran

Click the thumbnail for more shots from Umphrey’s in Charleston