Sound Tribe Sector 9 and Umphrey's McGee continued their tour of the midwest last night at Moonlite Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio. Moonlite Gardens is actually part of Coney Island Amusement Park, so you can imagine the looks on all of the parents' faces when the Umphreaks and Sound Tribe tour rats descended upon their quiet day with the kids at the amusement park. The parking lot was actually a hilarious scene; there were two or three security guards who weren't even old enough to drink riding around on their bikes enforcing the no drinking, no loitering, and no fun in the lot rules. The funny thing about kicking everyone out of the parking lot was that it kind of backfired and the amusement park itself became the shakedown street (though some 8th graders probably had the time of their lives eating goo-balls and riding roller coasters).
STS9 took the stage on time and played a pretty decent set. One of the first things I noticed is how little the stage was. I really had no idea how they were going to fit Umphrey's and all of their equipment up there. While I thought Sound Tribe started out really well it seemed to get a little monotonous after a while. That and it was hot! They might as well have changed the name of the venue to the Moonlite Sweat Gardens, because it was at least 100 degrees in the pit (despite the fact that the venue was outdoors). We also had the unfortunate luck of getting stuck next to the two dirtiest, smelliest, loudest, most obnoxious tour rats in the whole place for a few songs.
Personally, I think that STS9 always puts on a better show once it's dark out and their lights are in full force. To an extent, it felt like they were just getting warmed up when the set ended. That is definitely the main problem with the two-headliner tour: the risk that you end up leaving without getting your fill from either band (fortunately, I still have 3 shows left to get my fill, plus a late night). Last night definitely got me psyched for STS9's late night show at the House of Blues in Chicago on Saturday, even if it didn't melt my face completely off.
STS9 Set 1 (8:05 - 9:35): Aimlessly, Blu Mood, Be Nice, Empires, New Soma, Oh Little Brain, F. Word, From Now On, Rent w/ start-stop intro, Peoples
It seemed like the Umphrey's crew was having a tough time making enough space for all six members of the band plus instruments and gear on such a small stage ("fat guy, little coat" problems). To be clear: the UM crew did a great job (as they always do) with what they had to work with, but this stage was so tiny that I was surprised that Jake didn't wack Stasik in the head a couple of times with his guitar neck because they were crammed that close together in order to fit on the stage.
Umphrey's finally took the stage around 10:35 and I really hoped that there wasn't a midnight curfew, because I wasn't sure if an hour and a half would be enough. The band took the stage and launched into "Utopian Fir" like it was their second set already and they had been warming up for an hour. The highlight for me was definitely the end of the set with "Hurt Bird Bath" and "40's Theme". The great thing about the show was that I really enjoyed every song they played even though none of them are particular favorites of mine ("Bright Lights" and "Search 4" especially). Unfortunately, it was already midnight at the end of "40's Theme" and there simply wasn't any time left for an encore without breaking the curfew.
Although it would have been nice if Umphrey's topped off their rager of a set with an encore, I wasn't that upset about it. I noticed when I got back that neither group has been playing encores on this tour, which I think is kind of interesting. The encore is obviously so standard that you can't help but feel let down when there isn't one played, but I don't think that's necessarily a good thing. Either way, considering that the curfew was midnight last night, I was happier that Umphrey's played an hour and a half straight rather than an hour and 10 minutes, a 5 minute break, and then a 15 minute encore.
Overall I'd give the performance a B+/A-: even though it was only an hour and a half there was not a wasted minute the whole show. Jake Cinninger is a fucking animal. I couldn't write this review without saying that somewhere. I've got videos of most of the show although the audio quality on my camera leaves much to be desired.
UM Set 2 (10:35-12:00): Utopian Fir > Out of Order, Bright Lights, Big City > Search 4, Hurt Bird Bath, 40s Theme
Out of Order
Bright Lights, Big City
Hurt Bird Bath
40's Theme (intro)
40's Theme (outro)
I have a day off today and will be rejoining the tour tomorrow in Columbus before hitting Indianapolis on Friday and Chicago on Saturday. If anyone has any good Columbus or Indianapolis recommendations (lodging, food, fun, etc), please let me know!