Umphrey’s McGee

(Originally Published on South Florida Insider)

Fillmore Regulars Umphrey’s McGee Deliver Yet Another Stellar Set To A Spellbound Miami Audience – Review of the Umphrey’s McGee Concert at the Fillmore Miami in Miami Beach, FL

Story and Photos by: Gleb Barabanov

South Florida has always had an interesting relationship with concerts. The state is home to the 3rd largest population in the country, and yet every time a huge tour is announced, odds are Florida is getting left out of the itinerary. The explanation for this is of course, logistics. It’s incredibly expensive to drive all the way down for 6 hours to play Miami only to have to drive 6 hours up the next day, so most bands either start (or end) their tours here, or end up not coming down further than Orlando. Thankfully, Umphrey’s McGee is not one of those bands. Umphrey’s seem to have a particular fondness for the Sunshine State, playing dozens of shows here in their 20-year career and dropping by at least once a year to bring their special blend of progressive jam rock to the hungry masses of Florida.

This show, like the past two that they played down here, took place at the Fillmore in Miami Beach. This venue fits the band very well, with the layout of the venue fitting the diversity of the audience members perfectly. The younger and more hardcore fans braved the crown in the pit closer to the stage, while the seating area provided a perfect place to kick back and enjoy the tunes and accompanying light show without worrying about someone knocking over your beer. And the venue itself provided a wide variety of snacks and libations, from specialty cocktails to delicious pizza.

The opening act was a group dubbed Spafford, hailing from Prescott, Arizona. Laying down a wicked set of classic jam-band styled music, the talented quartet delivered an hour long warm-up to the main event while the crowd made their way inside and settled in. The band played some killer renditions of the tunes found on their self-titled album Spafford, and the group did a stellar job getting the crowd ready for the Umph.

After Spafford finished up their set and the stage was assembled to play, the lights went dark and six shadowy figures appeared onstage, signaling the show was about to begin. Umphrey’s McGee broke into their first song, Nipple Trix as the audience cheered and began to groove out. Quite a few people even brought their kids (wearing ear protection, or course) to experience their first concert, and it was the perfect show for them to do so. Their lighting set-up was amazing, the beams splitting off into multiple colors above the band as they laid down more and more jams. During the songs that had singing, a spotlight above illuminated vocalist and guitarist Brenday Bayliss, but during the other songs with no vocals the band played with colored lighting on them while the light show went off in the background, creating an interesting silhouette effect.

The band played for over two hours, with their songs split up into two sets. After a small break after the first set, the band came back and played phenomenal renditions of Making Flippy Flappy (a Talking Heads cover), Night Nurse, and Phil’s Farm. They rounded out their time in Miami with a killer encore of Gulf Stream and Maybe Someday, with the crowd cheering for more even after the incredible all-night set.

This concert, along with a plethora of other shows, was live streamed on their website, which is a great way for an Umphrey’s McGee fan to enjoy new tunes each night as the songs are heavily improvised and are played with a different take every concert. Here’s hoping Umphrey’s continue their tradition of visiting Miami Beach and come back next year!