Thursday night in Tuscaloosa was one that won't be forgotten any time soon, as jam veterans Widespread Panic and Umphrey's McGee joined forces for one of the better rock shows one could ask for. With Panic slated for two sets and Umphrey's getting a full 75-minute opening spot, the stage was set for a rowdy occasion at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre. This would be the first of a two-night Umphrey's/Panic run, and the music couldn't start soon enough.
Umphrey's took the stage promptly at 6:30 PM, opening up with "Similar Skin," the title track from the band's 2014 studio release. "Wappy Sprayberry" opened things up for some extensive jamming, before ultimately moving into a newer tune "Speak Up." Ryan Stasik then busted into the all-too-familiar opening notes of "Puppet String," one which always draws a strong reaction from the UM faithful. It was then time for Jake Cinninger (guitar) to take the lead on "Glory," one of the most peaceful, beautiful songs in the band's extensive catalog. "Educated Guess" provided another heavy-hitting rocker from Similar Skin, and "Women, Wine, and Song" made for one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the night.
Umphrey's McGee at Avondale Brewery - July 7th 2016
Next up was "Bad Friday," which quickly turned this occasion into Alabama's biggest dance party. Many of us felt like that might have been the end of the set, and thankfully, this was a false assumption. This band tackles cover tunes as well as any band in history, and David Bowie's "Let's Dance" was no exception. Cinninger handles Bowie's vocals with fine form, and you would be challenged to find a better rendition of this classic tune. A seamless segue back into "Puppet String" would bring this scorching opening set to a close.
After about 30-minutes of turnover, the lights went down, and Widespread Panic took the stage, much to the delight of the lively Alabama crowd. The Panic faithful was paying extra attention on this night, as the band had not repeated a song in its first six shows of the tour. Would they continue this trend and make it seven shows? It sure seemed that way as the set kicked off with Vic Chesnutt's "Le'ts Get Down To Business", "Travelin' Light," and "Little Kin." The trend continued with Bloodkin's "Henry Parsons Died," which always seems to light a fire in the set. Another nod to the late Chesnutt came with "Sleeping Man," before "Up All Night" brought about the first repeat of the tour.
While this was an entertaining and impressive streak, so much more was now on the table, and no complaints were issued on this night. The first taste of Street Dogs came in the form of "Cease Fire" > "Jamais Vu," a pairing that has become pretty consistent in the last few years. The party shifted into high gear as Jimmy Herring hit the first licks of The Guess Who's "No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature." Panic is known for their unique spin on countless covers, but this one is up there with the best of them. John Bell thanked and assured the crowd that they'd be right back, and that was it for the first set.
Set two kicked off in explosive fashion with a cover of The Talking Heads' "Papa Legba." Next up was "Happy," which JoJo Hermann ultimately took straight into "Greta," one of the bigger highlights of the night. Is there a better sing-a-long in the Panic catalog? I guess that's up to the individual, but "Greta" just never gets old. The segues continued and this time it was into a scorching take on "Solid Rock," which was proceeded by "Tall Boy." It's safe to say that JoJo brought his a-game to Tuscaloosa, and thankfully there was much more where that came from.
I'm not sure if there is a more quintessential Panic tune than "Surprise Valley," and the boys proved that yet again. That song defines the sound of the band for me, and I'd honestly be fine with hearing it at every show. A brief take on "Drums" came next, which moved swiftly back into "Surprise Valley." The darker, bluesy "Me and The Devil Blues" and "Holden Oversoul" would follow, before "Porch Song" closed out the second set in epic fashion. After a brief exit, the band returned to the stage and gave another nod to Bloodkin with "End of the Show." Everyone knew this would lead into another rocker, and JoJo took the lead on this one with "Blackout Blues." This one always seems appropriate at the end of a set or in the encore, and just like that, this massive occasion in Tuscaloosa had come to an end.
This was only my second opportunity to catch a show at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, and I can't say enough about this venue. In my opinion, this is the premiere outdoor venue in the state of Alabama. While Oak Mountain and The Wharf have plenty to offer, there truly is not a bad seat in the house in Tuscaloosa, and the overall design maintains an intimate element that can't be argued. Being able to catch Umphrey's and Panic on the same night was really special, and the fact that we get to do it all over again tonight is extremely convenient. One can only wonder what type of collaborations we can expect in Alpharetta tonight, and fortunately we only have to wait a matter of hours to find out.
If you're heading to Tuscaloosa to see Widespread Panic and Umphrey's McGee on Thursday night, make sure to save a little extra energy for the after party with Backup Planet at Druid City Music Hall. This is a band we have been following closely for the past year, and you don't want to miss this late night set. New Orleans funk group Gravy will kick off the after party at 11:00 PM, immediately following the conclusion of Panic's show at Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre. Plan accordingly, head directly to Druid City, and don't miss a note. Advance tickets can be purchased for just $5 by clicking here.
We're giving away a pair of tickets to the show, so here is your chance to win today. Share this article directly from our Facebook page, and tag a friend who you would like to take to the show in the comments. Make sure your Facebook settings are designated to PUBLIC, so we can see your share on our end. We will announce a winner at 3:00 PM CST on Thursday afternoon.
Backup Planet is a progressive funk-rock band based out of Nashville, Tennessee. To see Backup Planet perform live is to simultaneously travel back in time and forward into the future. Their truly unique sound emanates from a place that seems familiar, yet unchartered.
Elements of jazz, funk, roots, blues, electronic, and progressive rock all emerge during the course of their shows. Their sound draws from so much you’ve heard before—‘70s rock and funk, high-energy improv, a touch of pop, and a sliver of metal. But the members of Backup Planet mix and match those elements—with just a hint of modern tech to burnish a sturdy nucleus of retro-minded organ and guitar—in ways that never fail to astonish. With a fantastic repertoire of original songs, they’re able to build fluid sets interspersed with extended improvisation.
Incorporating some degree of uncertainty into live performances is innate to the improvisational, or ‘jam band,’ music scene. Audiences can sense when a group takes major risks onstage; the elements of surprise and unpredictability foster a level of joy unparalleled in other types of musical performances. Masters of this process, Ben Cooper, Gavin Donati, Blake Gallant, and Chris Potocik, are doing all of the above while their rapidly growing fan base nods in approval and shouts for more.
Live electronic duo Modern Measure is set to return to both Chattanooga, Tennessee and Tuscaloosa, Alabama this weekend. Friday night's show is scheduled for 9:00 PM at JJ's Bohemia in Chattanooga, while Saturday night's show leads them to familiar territory in Tuscaloosa at Green Bar at 10:30 PM. The duo has deep roots in Northern Alabama, which always creates a special buzz amongst themselves and their fans alike.
Drummer Kyle Holly reiterated the groups excitement when we spoke with him this morning. "Tuscaloosa was one of the first places I ever saw a concert. We're going to bring it all out for this one," Holly explained. Modern Measure's Charlie Thornton followed up with the simple, but specific message of "Roll Tide."
Listen to Modern Measure's latest edit/remix "Fast Panda (HS X SDNR Edit)" here:
Official Bio: Modern Measure-
Modern Measure is a hybrid electronic project like none other. Infusing live organic instrumentation with artfully crafted music production is what sets Modern Measure apart. Modern Measure was formed in the musical hotbed of Atlanta, GA in 2013. Coming off of sold out performances at Terminal West in ATL, to touring nationally all across the United States, Modern Measure stays true to art and music. Kyle Holly (Live Drums/Music Production) and Charlie Thornton (Bass Guitar, Alto Saxophone, Music Production) keep the party up at all times. Taking inspiration from around the world, along with Electronica, Hip Hop, Rap, Funk, and Rock influences, it all blends meticulously.
In just a short time, Modern Measure has shared the stage with friends and renowned artists such as STS9, Big Gigantic, The Disco Biscuits, ZOOGMA, Manic Focus, The Floozies, The New Deal, and Turbo Suit. With the help of Modern Measure’s label, 1320Records, Modern Measure continues to push the bar releasing original material, alongside remixes from very respected artists that continually inspire the band.
Modern Measure has performed at music festivals across the country such as Camp Bisco, Suwannee Hulaween, North Coast Music Festival, Summer Camp Music Festival, Summer Set Music Festival, Counterpoint Music Festival, and Euphoria Music Festival just to name a few. Get familiar, get comfortable, and lock yourselves in. Modern Measure is a name you will continue to see in music for years to come.