For the second year running, the members of Umphrey’s McGee found themselves headlining a sold out show at Red Rocks. This time they did it with the help of instrumental fusion freak out TAUK and livetronica outfit Papadosio. Umphrey’s has continued to dominate the festival circuit. This year alone they’ve made stops at Summer Camp, High Sierra, Counterpoint, Hangout, and toured with Widespread Panic. They are riding high on stellar musicianship and innovative performances like their set as Godboner with Gene Ween and The Making Lemonade show. Despite its prestige, Red Rocks is not the easiest venue to sell out. Umphrey’s McGee seems to have found their formula by making it a destination event with a second show at The Boulder Theater, not to mention including a couple of beefy supporting acts to the bill.
With four sets of music on the docket the day began early with TAUK starting around 6:30 PM. TAUK has an ethereal sound brought into focus by the hard-hitting beats of Isaac Teel. This band features an instrumental fusion that blends rock with elements of funk, hip-hop, and jazz. Their set at Red Rocks lasted for about 45 minutes with lots of twists and turns. The guitar of Matt Jalbert forces your head to bob and the rest of the band maintains the musical onslaught. TAUK lacks pretention and allows the listener to engage in a musical journey with the band. They were impressive to say the least. TAUK is certainly one to watch.
The five-headed musical hydra that is Papadosio came to the famed stage next. They were given an hour to wow the audience with their blend of organic instrumentation, produced riffs, and mesmerizing vocals. This band is truly unique in their style, however their groove is immediately intoxicating. The entire band is completely dialed in with the ability to shift and move the music at full speed. They put on a dance party as Red Rocks filled to capacity for the main event.
Umphrey’s McGee emerged from the darkness and immediately went into a bone-shaking “In The Hall Of The Mountain King” which they hadn’t performed in 890 shows. Bayliss blasted out the lyrics on a sultry “Puppet String” before they brought the heat on “2nd Self.” The band was in proper form with Jake showing us all how it’s done on guitar. Rain was predicted but we only got a light misting through the middle of the set. The sinister “Go To Hell” kicked the night into full gear while the fan favorite “Mulche’s Odyssey” was pushed to epic proportions with a delicious “Higgins” center stage. The “Pay The Snucka” was a highlight of the first set, as it too bookended an enormous jam that included “Rocker Part 2” and “The Pequod.”
After a standard set break Umphrey’s returned with a funky “Ringo” ( a song which includes the lyrics, ““Midsummer’s trip on the fourth of July…”)contained a dirty tease of Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City.”
The band went into an alternative version of “Cut The Cables” before going off the deep end with an immense rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The 15-minute opus was spot on with a beautiful build up. The band transitioned back into “Ringo” to end one of the best musical interludes of the entire show. They continued with “Bad Friday” by inviting up Steve Krojniewski on percussion. UM went into a funky tease of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” during the song. They closed with a face melting “Divisions” sandwich featuring “Believe The Lie.” The two-part encore included a sick “Triple Wide” and a call back to “Puppet String” to finish the night.
Umphrey’s McGee put on a perfect show for a Red Rocks crowd. They demonstrated their entire catalog with interesting song choices and classic covers. This has become a yearly tradition for many Umphreaks. Each year they seem to make strides and 2015 was no different. They also marked this event by announcing a New Year’s run in Denver. So go ahead and book your flight now, you won’t be disappointed. Umphrey’s McGee is spitting hot fire.