Umphrey’s McGee Made a Metal Sandwich at The Wilma (Review)

Umphrey’s McGee, a band from humble Midwest beginnings, has risen to become one of the Jam scenes most iconic bands in their celebrated 20th year.  Luckily for Missoula, they absolutely love playing here and consistently put on amazing shows at The Wilma. First performing at the venue as an opening act for Leftover Salmon in 2003, they have returned eight times since as headliners performing notably special shows that seem to get better every year.

The Russ Liquid Test started the night off with their unique brand of psychedelic electro-funk.  A three piece band of guitar, drums and trumpet/synthesizer, this project serves as a side piece for Russ Liquid’s DJ/Producer persona.  The opening set was laden with bass heavy sequencing and made one feel as though they had stumbled on a set at Burning Man rather than a show at The Wilma.  It was a great way to start things off.

Umphrey’s McGee took the stage and stuck to their celebrated older material.  Bass player Ryan Stasik was donning an Iron Maiden t-shirt which gave fans a clue into this particular flavor of Umph they were about to experience.  The set was essentially sandwiched between two of their “epic metal” tunes, that being the “Miss Tinkles Overture” and the fabled “Wizard Burial Ground.”  The jams in this first set took on a dark metallic quality.

The second set also stuck to older material but took a more jovial tone.  The musicianship in this portion of the show seemed almost acrobatic, leaping from genre to genre effortlessly.  It was quite dizzying. After the classic “Der Bluten Kat,” guitarist Jake Cinninger thanked the crowd and expressed serious personal love for Missoula, saying “I need to get a time share out here.”  Obviously this comment was very well received by the audience. Also worth noting, is within the expansive “DBK” they managed to squeeze in the debut of “So Far Away” a Dire Straits tune sung by Jake.

Ending the second set with a great “Utopian Fur,” containing a “Back in Black” (AC/DC) breakdown, they quickly returned for an encore with a rendition of new tune, “Remind Me”, off the recently released album Its Not Us.  This wound up a great show for a great crowd.  Luckily attendees won’t have to wait long for another dose of great music as this summer is shaping up to be one for the books over at the newly built Kettlehouse Amphitheater (see events).  Smiles were abound as fans exited the theater, as well as talk of who was going to The Motet at The Top Hat the night after.

-Written by Brandt McDonough

Listen to Umphrey’s McGee live at The Wilma 3/14/18 below: