Umphrey's McGee

Wrapped Around Chicago: New Years at the Riv

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Umphrey's McGee's second video, a two-DVD set, chronicles the band's 2004-2005 New Year's Eve show at the Riviera theater in Chicago. The concert, with a running time of just over three hours, gives a good sense of the group's appeal. This is a tight jam band that clearly boasts such influences as the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band, and Frank Zappa, but has developed its own style. Those influences tend to be heard in isolated sections (for example, guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jack Cinninger occasionally play duet leads that recall the early Allmans) or in formal terms. Like Zappa, Umphrey's McGee is interested in complex, often quickly played musical segments and abrupt changes of time signature, and their lyrics can have some of Zappa's abstraction and irony, though they rarely display his satiric edge. The influence of the Dead is heard in the extended song structures and a willingness to go off in directions not necessarily implied by a song's initial form. The group makes a statement by coming out on-stage and immediately going into the 19-minute "Divisions"; if there were any doubt how adventurous they are willing to be, it is dispelled somewhere during that first song. But like such later jam bands as Phish, Umphrey's McGee also has a sense of stagecraft and a good sense of humor. There aren't any trampolines, à la Phish, but at one point a couple of trapezes drop down, and soon they're being occupied by acrobats. And then there's "mini-Kiss," a group of dwarfs decked out in Kiss makeup, who fill the stage during the heavy metal parody "(Rock) Nopener." (A second version of the song, "[Lounge] Nopener," finds drummer Kris Myers coming out from behind his kit and donning a fedora to channel Frank Sinatra in a swing rendition complete with a four-man horn section that stays on-stage for most of the second set.) Needless to say, a good time is had by all, especially when a countdown leads to confetti, balloons, and the obligatory playing of "Auld Lang Syne." (In addition to the concert, there is an additional 45 minutes of bonus features, including a couple of extra musical performances, some clay animation, a dressing-room rehearsal of "Bad Is Bad" with Huey Lewis preparatory to an appearance at the Jammy Awards, and some truly foolish backstage shenanigans.)

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
feat: Huey Lewis
6:40
26
27
28
29
blue highlight denotes track pick