Live: Jam Cruise Preparty with Umphrey's McGee at Revolution, January 8

Jam Cruise Preparty
With Umphrey's McGee
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale

After a highly energized but somewhat choppy performance on night one, Umphrey's McGee was settled in and grooving deeply on the second night of Jam Cruise Prepartying at Revolution. Where on the previous night the band often veered abruptly from section to section, night two McGee was fluid, jazzy and patient, allowing their improvisation to take its natural course.

The crowd also seemed to be settled in and more relaxed. The show was sold out again, yet the room seemed more spacious, somehow, than it did on Saturday night. This observation was shared among several in attendance. Perhaps the spirits were less dense, having been through a full night of musical therapy already, and being only one sleep--or sleepless night--away from shove off.

Umphrey's stop on a dime, note-perfect precision was impressive as always, but the real delight here was the overall fluidity of the music the whole show through. If they only would have tapped into such a deep groove for a portion of the show, it would have been sufficient reason for doubters to tip their hats. This show though was strong enough to send the previously uninitiated -- including this writer -- seeking a recording, both for future personal enjoyment and to enlighten others.

The band proved themselves to be unafriad of no-man's land, where structure and direction dissolved into pregnant space, forcing them to work with the texture of the room, together, in order to build something new. Guitarist Brenden Bayliss was especially impressive both in the spacious and peak moments. In true Jedi fashion, he would disappear into the fabric of the music, of the space, and then emerge, guiding the energy into maximum tension before merging with the whole once more as it would liberate itself and enter its next phase.

Both sets were great, but set two was particularly magnificent. From the set-opening sequence -- which featured the Talking Heads cover "Girlfriend is Better" -- through to the close, the band was wonderfully at play in the vibratory world. The view from the balcony of the crowd on the floor moving as one provided a visual to go along with the intangible experience that so many seemed to have shared, and that Umphrey's McGee catalyzed. Quite simply, on night two Umphrey's revealed to this writer their ability to open doors that I was not sure they had the keys to.

Critic's Notebook

The Patio: Was a far mellower scene than it was the first night, as the louder than loud beast that is America's Backyard was not in operation. Strangers talked with strangers and became strange friends, as it ought to be.

Audience Quote 1: "Watch out. About half these folks think they're already on the cruise boat. You know how that works." -- Jah Mark

Audience Quote 2: "There are so many music industry people and musicians here tonight. They are definitely bringing it." -- Destiny

By the Way: As always, it will be interesting to see if this show sounds half as good on tape as it did live.

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Travis Newbill