This past Saturday regional powerhouse Umphrey’s McGee came back to Indy for their annual hometown throw down. They took the stage at the Lawn at White River State Park. Local jazz/electronica after locals Cosby Sweater opened in support. The night began as any would in preparation for an Umphrey’s show: cookouts across town, local bars organizing party buses, talks of after parties and – of course – what would the weather be like. With impending rain clouds on the horizon, both bands jumped to social media to inform fans that the show was going to start early, prompting most to cut their pre-show festivities short.
The night started with Cosby Sweater starting almost an hour early, but still managing to bring the heat as usual. Unfortunately a lot of fans still arrived as if they didn’t know about the weather and the venue wasn’t as full as it could have been. As people continued to file in, doing little dance grooves as they swerved in between lawn chairs, many headed straight to the beer tent knowing a cold, albeit slightly overpriced, beer was more then necessary to begin the night. The sky continued to get dark and ominous; we knew it was coming, we also knew the show must go on.
As Umphrey’s took the stage everybody pushed forward, crowding the stage and locking most people into their designated dance spots. A new addition to the lawn – a barrier that surrounded what would now be considered the pit – was a perpetual annoyance. It divided the crowd into two sections with the only way into the pit through a bottleneck entrance. Security was unobtrusive, at least no more than usual and the venue staff was helpful once the rain came.
And oh did it come; somewhere in between “Puppet String” (a new track from the new album) and “Tribute” the rain started slow, then it grew and grew. Eventually the band stopped and asked everybody to exit the venue because the show had been postponed. People flocked to the streets looking for the closest place to get shelter from the rain. Many headed under bridges that lined the canal, and the underground parking garage filled quickly as people walked around discussing their individual Umphrey’s experience and looking for trouble to get into.
After about 45 min we got the word that the show would go on. With security temporarily disabled, fans rushed into the venue with full force toward the stage. The real fans headed to the beer tent, then to the stage.
Umphrey’s came back out in full force and brought a heater of a show. The rain continued for another hour but that did not stop the wild dance moves and sick bass lines. “Miss Tinkles Overture” started things off then delved deep into “Booth Love” followed by a cover of the song “Kinky Reggae”. Saxophonist Nick Gerlach of Cosby Sweater sat in to crush it on a great version of “40’s Theme” then “Linear,” the first song of their new album, Similar Skin.
Then things got serious, Conduit>Yoga Pants>Conduit>Snucka 1 & 2> Hurt Bird Bath. After the show many fans were saying the Hurt Bird Bath was one of the best they’ve seen this tour, and I can say they are right.
After the show ended, everybody was more than satisfied with what they had. The weather made the whole experience that much more special and nobody was disappointed. Fans filed into the streets of downtown, many headed to the bars, to their cars or to their homes. Our 30-person, neon green school bus took us to our favorite local bar where we got to check out even more live music. An Umphrey’s McGee hometown throw down is never a show to miss, and despite the rain they did not fail us.
Thanks guys, and good luck on your tour.
On the heals of their most recent album release, Similar Skin, Regional prog-rock powerhouse Umphrey’s McGee return to their home state on July 26th for their annual show at The Farm Bureau Lawn at White River State Park. Backed by friends of the band, who also happen to be Indy-based musicians, Cosby Sweater will bring their own version of electronic-jazz fusion as the evening’s opener.
Umhpreys’ most recent album has reinvigorated love for the band from fans new and old alike. Bringing together many well-known songs that previously never had a home, Similar Skin is more of a studio up-date on band favorites than it is a shiny, new package of Umph originals.
The new album release has allowed Umphrey’s to continue to re-define the relationship a band can have with their fans: by selling out the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre for their first time; by providing exclusively intimate VIP treatment for fans; by offering Similar Skin packages that include the CD, pressed vinyl, merchandise and other goodies; and by putting on an album release party, the band continues to enhance their unique relationship with fans. Instead of just going out and playing, the band now has more purpose then ever- for themselves and for their fans. This is evident as there is a push to support the tour, the new merch and of course the album itself. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to the new Similar Skin album, check it out HERE, listen to the songs and download the album- the best way to get ready for the show.
For local fans this show is sure to be one to remember; something some of us haven’t seen since the Live At The Murat recordings. Cosby Sweater is guaranteed to bring the heat, getting the party started early. We can be almost certain that Joel Cummings, keyboardist for Umphrey’s, will sit in with Cosby Sweater as they have toured along side the band on multiple occasions. The addition of Joel – regardless of how old he may be – lends a well-placed sound to the Cosby Sweater line-up. Cosby Sweater continues to release new music, most notably a crowd hit remix of the song “Cocaine Blues” as well as their most recent release of their Party Dad EP which you can listen to, or purchase, HERE.
To recap: Cosby Sweater will be supporting Umphrey’s McGee at the Farm Bureau Lawn at White River State Park on Saturday July 26th. Tickets are still available and can be purchased here. The show is set to begin at 7PM, this is a standing event but the venue does offer lawn chairs for rent on a first come-first serve basis. If you plan on attending be sure to purchase your tickets soon as these events tend to sell out and you do not want to be stuck on the wrong side of the fence.
The circus came to town in the form of “Peter Frampton’s Guitar Circus” at The Lawn at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis. It was a beautiful night on the lawn, which made a perfect backdrop for the guitar showcase that took place for those in attendance. If Peter Frampton and his many tricks weren’t enough, he brought legendary blues guitarist Robert Cray to open up the festivities. It was a special night that featured new takes on classic hits and some insane covers as well.
Frampton started the show with a psychedelic video intro that played on a huge lcd screen which served as a backdrop for the stage. We saw frogs hopping to and fro, cats jumping back and forth, men with amazing facial hair with fire coming from the tip of their top hats cut in and out of the screen while “Being for the benefit of Mr. Kite” by the Beatles played through the speakers. Peter walked out with the rest of his band and began the show with a crunchy jam that was in your face. This gave me an idea about how memorable evening was going to be. The intro segued into “Magic Moon” and the screen cut into a mythical slide show of astrology signs and tarot cards.
After Peter heard about the 20th woman shout out to him that they loved him in between songs, he encouraged everyone to continue going ape shit, and proclaimed that the geezers rule. He then followed that with his hit “Show me the way”. Anyone who has ever felt heartache cannot help but connect to “Wind of Change” and with the screen behind him showing many never before seen photos of the early days in his career, it was hard not to have a barrage of memories going through your head while he sang those touching lyrics.
Steve Cropper walking on stage was a special surprise. The man who was in the original Blues Brothers Band, and is also a legendary producer who was highly respected by John Lennon and countless other greats. Before busting into the hit “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MG’s, Steve joked about how he never would’ve imagined when the song was created that it would one day be in an adult diapers commercial.
Towards the end of his set, Peter showcased the instrument that truly set him apart from the rest of the classic rock guitarist, the talkbox. He played an epic version of Soundgarden’s “Blackhole Sun” by matching the lyrics coming from his talkbox to those classic guitar riffs. He closed the set with “Do you feel like we do” which had everyone feeling what the man was talking about. After a short break, Peter and the boys came back on stage and broke into a super sick blues jam which lead into “While my guitar gently weeps”. The majority of the households in America have the record “Frampton Comes Alive” making it as American as apple pie. Peter played those songs with this same passion he had when he recorded it over 35 years ago, and him being in Indianapolis was a shining example for the younger generation who were in the crowd to follow your dreams and always do the things you love.
Words by Tyler Muir