Umphrey’s and STS9 Light up Maymont

by | Sep 6, 2013 | ART

For any live music fan, the most exciting part of the summer is the chance to see your favorite bands live and outside, especially when the venue is as beautiful as Maymont Park and the bands are as awesome as STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee.

For any live music fan, the most exciting part of the summer is the chance to see your favorite bands live and outside, especially when the venue is as beautiful as Maymont Park and the bands are as awesome as STS9 and Umphrey’s McGee.

Having never been to Maymont before, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but I went in hoping for the best and came out with a new favorite outdoor concert venue. My first impression of Maymont was anything but spectacular as the security at the entrance felt a bit too rigid; the staff was polite and courteous enough, but the bag searches (which might make sense considering the nature of both of the bands usual fan base) seemed excessive.

Security inside was a bit absurd as well, as I saw several people hassled by police for nothing more than enthusiastic (albeit possibly intoxicated) dancing to the DJ before the show started. Luckily all of that seemed to disappear once the bands came on.

Anyone who enjoys spacy, synth-driven, jam rock backed with afro-cuban drum fills, but has yet to experience Sound Tribe Sector 9 (often abbreviated as Tribe or STS9) is missing out on one of the most intricately creative bands of the genre. Plus, as a bass player, it’s always rad to see a band fronted by a bassist.

Having seen Sound Tribe live before I knew how much fun they were to hear in person and I made sure to find a good spot at the front of the crowd (which was surprisingly easy despite how many people were at the show). The biggest thing I noticed about STS9’s set was how in synch they were as a band. Close to a dozen studio and live albums and many years of touring together has brought a definite maturity to their sound.

The only thing that disappointed me about their set was that they started playing while the sun was still up and their light show (which is always incredibly impressive) didn’t have the added benefit of darkness for most of their set; but the music sounded so good that it didn’t really matter and I got my fill of multi-color flood lights and sporadic flashing laser beams once Umphrey’s started playing.

The coolest thing about seeing Umphrey’s McGee live is hearing songs that I’ve heard a hundred times, played in a completely different way. This style allows the fans the comfort of being able to dance and sing along to familiar material, while still presenting them with something wholly unique to that particular performance.

One trend that I noticed was that Umphrey’s whole set sounded slightly heavier than normal. Typically the band balances their performances fairly evenly between their funkier dance-driven material and their more progressive rock sound, but this show definitely felt more metal than usual (which wasn’t altogether surprising given my interview with Umphrey’s keyboardist Joel Cummins in which he said that the upcoming album would be “more in that heavier rock vein”).

Undoubtedly my favorite part of the whole show was Umphrey’s encore, which combined ‘Come as You Are’ by Nirvana with ‘Kids’ by MGMT. I had heard recorded versions of this mash-up but had never gotten to hear it live.
Overall, the whole show was incredibly fun and only made me more excited for Umphrey’s new album.

Brad Kutner

Brad Kutner

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