Umphrey’s McGee Reignites Jam Band Obsession at Palace Theatre


Any night I get to spend at a concert is a gift. One that I actually spent a portion of the last week reflecting on. And while I worked to refocus on the craft of photography and deleted a hand full of mobile apps, threw out excess clothing, and meditated on what got me on the concert photography train originally, I played music. While I ran errands and tried to live the healthy lifestyle and ignore burger king down the road, I played music. And while I went about the rest of my weekend tasks, from the mundane to the “thrilling” trip to Target, there was music. Music like photography has always given me the chance to break free and sit in my own version of euphoria while watching masters of their craft perform. And also share in that admiration and enjoyment with mere strangers while all senses are flooded for a few hours. Umphrey’s McGee and their opener, Sinkane, were the perfect music for the weekend and poetically the minimal use of spoken work for either band was all the more fitting for my mindset. 

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I can’t dance. Yes I can get a few cocktails down and turn out some Sinatra inspired simple moves or get a couple drinks further on mimic some half decent “moves” I once saw on MTV. But otherwise don’t bet on me to get you out of a dance off in this lifetime. Sinkane unfortunately for all around me almost got me to defy my better judgement and want to dance. They’re a grooving jam band the likes of which you would expect to pair up with Umphrey’s McGee but their very own sound. It brought me back to the days of the 10k Lakes Festival(RIP) and for one more band on my list of “never heard them before”, also one I am happy I got to here.

I am a big fan of bands who do their job when they are opening. Not to say I don’t appreciate a good opener. Many openers are the reason I go to shows. But you don’t want the opener to steal the show, drag the energy down, or create emotional chaos for fans in attendance. It can make the wait for the main act feel like time is dragging and ruin the evening. Sinkane doesn’t break any of those rules and as I made my way to join fans and listen I was able to relax and take in the fresh yet familiar grooving songs. I didn’t catch the setlist for these guys but if you’re needing some quick recommendations for getting into the vibe of Sinkane I would listen to Telephone, How We Be, and Runnin’.

Following my trip down memory lane lead by Sinkane I made my way back to the pit area where I was no longer the long photographer. Though there was now a newcomer taking selfies while the band played. But we’ll move on from that!. How do I explain this adequately. It was Halloween weekend for most of the world this weekend and costumes were everywhere during this show. The stage was no exception. The band came on stage and appropriately, were all dressed as some variation of Prince. The band even went as far as to address this directly when they took a break midway through their set and hilariously went through intros such as “…and back here on the drums we have…. Oh, PRINCE!… and back here also on drums woah it’s PRINCE!”. The crowd loved it and I had to applaud the tip of the hat to Minnesota let alone the casual humor of introducing everyone as Prince.

As their opener Umphrey’s played Go Crazy and the dance party began. Gnomes, super heroes, a couple in perfect Bob’s Burger attire with their equally impressive Rick and Morty dressed friends, and every other fantasy character imaginable joined as the words “dearly beloved we are gathered here today…” lead into the classic synth notes we all know and love. In classic Umphrey’s McGee style the song transitioned from one jam session to another. I found myself lost in the music and unable to readily differentiate the songs I had seen on the night’s setlist. But it’s Umphrey’s do you really care? No, not while the band is taking turns blowing your mind with the ease with which they play and entertain. I almost had to chuckle because watching these guys play I had a narration in my head running where they were essentially saying “Oh, you think this is impressive? watch as I do it without hesitation or any observable trace of concern you mortals!”. 

I have to say of the songs played that night my favorites, minus Prince covers, would include Bridgeless and Bad Friday. Both are your classic guitar solo shredding and head bouncing induced type songs but they’re so damn good. You could tell me you aren’t a jam band person and I would say listen to these two songs and you should be surprised. Watching the guys play as I made my way around the Palace Theater almost had me forgetting, this was night 2 of their shows in St.Paul. Could have fooled me! The place was almost filled and the band was enjoying themselves the entire way.

For a genre of music I once was shamelessly obsessed with I realized this weekend I have been out of touch for far too long. There is a little something to be enjoy for all music fans. Whether you love guitar solos, grooving relaxed vibes, nostalgic jams, or just a good show to kick off your weekend or night out this is one to fit the bill. The night began and ended with Prince tributes, Go Crazy and Little Red Corvette, and I enjoyed the entire way through. I miss jam band shows, I think it may be time to rekindle my old obsessions as winter takes hold.