• Umphrey's McGee: Riviera, 2/22

    Posted 02/25/2014 by cal

    Sadly, this is going to turn into one of those meta-review-type situations that I sometimes frown upon. The fact that I keep getting into these mental quandaries with Umphrey's suggests that either they're one of my favorite bands, or that I should quit going to see them altogether, but neither of these is actually the case. Argh. My apologies if you've heard or read some of these points before.

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  • Umphrey's McGee: Orpheum, 2/16/13

    Posted 02/18/2013 by cal

    After 26 Umphrey’s McGee shows, I feel like I should be much better than I am at recognizing songs by name.  At The Orpheum on Saturday they played plenty of heavy-hitters that I’ve seen live many times--in fact most of the songs they played I recognized--but the only ones I could name with any certainty were the covers.  True, the repertoire is absurdly huge, but I realize it’s at least subconsciously intentional on my part; I only have room in my brain for so much useless information, and the Bands Whose Entire Repertoires I Have Memorized section is pretty full.  Once I start an obsession like that, it never really ends; to commit to a Phish-like devotion to learning to recognize a similarly vast array of tunes would be detrimental to my ability to get anything practical done for months.  At this point I’m more likely to recognize a UM song I don’t like than one I do, which is dumb.  Also, I rarely listen to UM recordings; the pursuit strikes me as more academic than spiritual, not that I wouldn’t enjoy it but there are much higher priorities.  There’s obviously something about Umphrey’s songs that limits how deeply I can connect with them.  Which makes it all the more impressive on their part that I keep coming back.

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  • The You-Phoria Guide To Festivals, 2011

    Posted 03/09/2011 by cal

    Now that festivals are big business again, even the hippies have gone hipster, and every year is a PR race to announce the most diverse and crowd-pleasing lineup.  The sense of community is all but gone now from the major three-day parties, and the pioneering spirit that created Bonnaroo is nowhere to be found.  This is already causing a decline in festival attendance and the cancellation of several formerly big names (10,000 Lakes and Rothbury spring to mind).  Still, for the music lover with eclectic tastes, there is an incredible bounty to be had.  Events succeed because with the demise of making records as a career, more and more bands are learning that they must be able to draw crowds playing live if they ever want to quit their day jobs.  Thus, while the big festivals may be on the verge of going dormant again, we concert-goers win by packing as much music as possible into the bulk ticket price.  But which ones are worth the hassle that IS festival life?  Just in case you’re still mulling things over for this year, here’s a handy guide.

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  • Summerfest 2010 Roundup

    Posted 07/09/2010 by cal

    The Big Gig is a messy, crowded hodgepodge of good and bad music, but this year’s experience has shown that it isn’t just the biggest; it’s also potentially one of the best, as long as you can ignore the elitist cynics who bitch about drunk people and music below their nose level.  No other festival will give you Thievery Corporation, STS9, Umphrey’s McGee, Yes and Rush in the span of a week, and despite the lack of free-wristband lawn seats at the Marcus Amphitheater, you could’ve seen all of these artists and oodles more for under 20 bucks a day.  It got exhausting at times, what with the getting up early on weekdays, but this year may have been my favorite overall Summerfest ever.


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  • The You-Phoria Guide to Summerfest 2010

    Posted 06/21/2010 by cal

    Despite the general lameness of Summerfest’s big headliners (with one or two exceptions per year), the smaller stages in 2010 are looking hotter than any year in recent memory, especially considering the wealth of local talent spread all over the grounds.  When in doubt, sit at the Cascio Interstate Music Groove Stage (CIMGS) and marvel at all the amazing Milwaukee music you never realized was here.  There’s something worth fifteen bucks every single day this year, and usually multiple quality acts (and don’t forget, you can get in for eight bucks on weekdays between noon and four!).


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  • Favorite Moments of Wakarusa 2010

    Posted 06/20/2010 by youphoric

    Rivalling even Rothbury 2008, our first trip to Wakarusa this year was everything we had hoped for, and much more. I've tried to pull together some hazy memories and recordings I could find of some of our favorite sets and happenings at this wonderful festival. Read on!

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  • UMBowl 2010

    Posted 04/28/2010 by cal

    A truncated version of this review will appear on JamBase at some point.  Here I present a detailed review of the inaugural event, which deserves to be recognized as a milestone in Umphrey's McGee's ongoing quest to make its audience an integral part of the creative process of its live shows.

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  • The Best Shows I Saw In 2009

    Posted 04/14/2010 by cal

    I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a better year of live music than 2009. 2001 and 2003 were pretty much neck and neck before, but they were both missing one key ingredient: a revitalized Phish. I wish I could’ve squeezed Radiohead in there somehow, but aside from that, it was as if all my favorite live acts conspired to keep my mind blown for most of the year. And since most (if not all) of them will be touring again in the coming months, ’09 may not even hold the crown for long…but we’ll see. My rule for this list, as always, is only one show per artist; otherwise, there might have only been three bands on it.

    (note: links in the headings are to my original reviews of these shows, where possible)

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  • Umphrey's McGee, The Hue reviews @ JamBase

    Posted 10/23/2009 by cal

    Better late than never, right? Umphrey's McGee recently unveiled a new event called the "Stew Art Series" (S2), a set of 100% improvised music with themes determined by the audience. I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural event, held at (WHY???) the Eagles Ballroom. Read all about the experiment here.

    Also, I happened across a cool instrumental prog (wince) band out of Chicago called The Hue, and somehow I got JamBase to put up my review of the band's debut album, Beyond Words, which can be found here.

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  • The You-Phoria Guide to the 2009 Concert Season

    Posted 03/06/2009 by cal

    The musical prospects of 2009 are quite honestly frightening. To begin with, barring my death, this will be the first time I’ll see Phish and U2 both in the same year; that alone virtually guarantees a landmark end to the aughts. But there’s a lot to get excited about, so I thought I’d run up a quick list (note: “quick” is a relative term) of potentials to shake us out of the winter doldrums if this 50-degree weather hasn't done it already.

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  • Youphoric 2007 Roundup

    Posted 02/01/2008 by youphoric

    Continue reading to check out some of youphoric's best (and worst) musical moments of 2007....

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  • The Best Shows Of 2006

    Posted 03/21/2007 by cal

    Yep, 2007 is well underway. I really don't give a damn. It's still worth it to me to sum up last year in live music, even if it isn't worth it to anybody else to read the summation.

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