Umphrey’s McGee brings the heat to Des Moines
Simon Estes Amphitheater in Des Moines, Iowa was hot on Friday, July 1st, 2011. After the late afternoon heat index approached 110° F, fans slowly made their way in to the intimate outdoor venue on the edge of the Des Moines River. The mix of the crowd was quite interesting with many families with children out for the music.
Minneapolis, MN native, Heatbox, opened the night with his original beat-box acapella solo stylings. From the ground up, he builds songs one layer at a time with only his voice and a loop station. His vocal skills and range were completely impressive. But aside from some fans at the front of the stage, the entering crowd remained stagnantly appreciative from the confines of lawn chairs and blankets as the late evening sun beat down.
By the time Umphrey’s McGee took the stage, the sun was setting behind a few beautiful clouds in the west and Simon Estes Amphitheater was maybe two-thirds full. A comfortable breeze blew by as the band opened the first set with “Rocker Part 2”. From there the band worked into some other classic gems like “Tribute to the Spinal Shaft” and a nice version of “Syncopated Strangers”. The Police cover of “Walking on the Moon” was also good. Overall the first set seemed distracted, especially with the blasting of fireworks not far downriver several times for the 4th of July weekend. Singer Brendan Bayliss also dedicated a song to the fans “in here” as he pointed to the crowd. Many people lined the close-by neighboring bridges for a cheap taste of the action with tickets still available at the door.
The second set was fantastic. It was completely dark and lighting guru Jefferson Waful had lights bouncing off of any structure in site including the adjacent bridges and buildings. Even with a relatively small setup and no backdrop, Waful again did a very impressive job. Umphrey’s opened and closed the second set with “All in Time”. Mashed in between was a lot of fun including the “I Ran” cover by Flock of Seagulls. The lively crowd front and center roared along all night and got more raucous as the night progressed. The rest of the crowd panned out across the grass with plenty of room to relax and move.
Des Moines was treated to another cover for the encore as Umphrey’s McGee ended the night with Toto’s “Africa”. Something about Iowa must induced early 1980’s pop-rock nostalgia with their choice and quantity of covers on this night. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising. Even though it was heavy on covers, all in all it was a fun show on a scorching summer evening in the Midwest.
Umphrey’s McGee – Simon Estes Amphitheatre, Des Moines, IA – 7.01.11 setlist
Rocker Part 2, Water, Tribute to the Spinal Shaft -> Syncopated Strangers, Walking On the Moon > Room to Breathe
All In Time > 2nd Self, The Bottom Half, The Linear > I Ran, The Fuzz > All In Time
THANK YOU UMPHREY’S MCGEE!!!