words and photos by joe zorzi…
I’ve never been a fan of jam bands. But on my way to Bonnaroo, crowded into an RV meant to hold seven people with thirteen, my friend threw on an album by the band Umphrey’s McGee. It sounded pretty cool, I got a good vibe from it. It wasn’t anywhere in the realm of jam bands i knew. But it wasn’t until I saw their 2am set at Bonnaroo that I really fell in love. Their show is something I’ve never seen before. And for anyone that thinks you can’t dance to rock music, these guys will prove you wrong.
G. Love went on before Umphrey’s and was well received by the crowd. His band was only a three piece but they had such a full sound. It was great music to jam to on a hot summer day. He even covered the Beastie Boys as a tribute to MCA.
Umphrey’s McGee took the stage around 8pm. The sun still hadn’t set yet which took away from their opening light show, but also added a nice feel to their set. Let me just explain why the light show matters for me. Most bands, I wouldn’t really mind. But Umphrey’s light show is epic as hell. It’s so in your face and non-stop that it’s hard to look away from the stage. Not to mention the incredible musicians that are up there.
These guys really do something that most bands aren’t capable of. Have you ever thought it was possible to do a cover of Metallica’s “Sad But True” intertwined with “Clint Eastwood” by the Gorillaz? Well, they did it. And it was awesome.
Their musicianship truly is on a different level than other artists. They flawlessly shift from genre to genre throughout their entire set. They’ll go from riffing on a metal jam directly into a chilled out reggae segment.
The crowd had such great vibes. People of all ages were just happy to be there witnessing great musicians tackle their craft. Out of all the shows I’ve been to they probably have one of the friendliest crowds I’ve ever seen (especially in New Jersey). Not to mention, everyone is dancing or hula hooping the entire time.
Overall, Umphrey’s killed it. I had to head out a bit earlier than I wanted to catch the train, but what I saw was exactly what was expected … a great rock and roll show.