Umphreys McGee - Wilma Theatre 3.4.17
photographer, author by Lindsey Hove
Our hotel, which is conveniently located across the street from the Wilma Theater for us beer-loving patrons, was almost completely sold out of rooms by the time we had arrived from Bozeman. The full parking lot was already buzzing with people of all ages and inside the hotel lobby was just the same; packed with excited, beer-in-hand concert goers, itching for the upcoming two-night run (my kind of people). The opener that night, Polecat, was a mix of rock, bluegrass, electric fiddle, and classic 'boot stompin' melodies that I had never heard before. Turns out the missing word lived up to their hype!
The Wilma doors opened at 7pm and the music was set to start at 8pm, giving the concert goers time to mingle and pick up their will-call tickets outside before the show. Stepping inside the doors of The Wilma Theater (which had a newly overhauled facelift in the past two years or so) was a mess of people congregating in the spots they had chosen to dance or the spots on the balcony that they had chosen to sit. I grabbed my camera bag, press pass, and a PBR and made my way down to the front row where partitions had been set up for a photographer pit, four feet right in front of the stage, right in front of the very front row of the crowd. Polecat had just finished warming up the eclectic crowd of attendees and soon Umphrey's was set to take stage. The energy in the room was undeniable. Suddenly, the yellow and blue flood lights fell to the stage. The gigantic uproar from the packed full theater as the band members took to the stage was absolutely ground shaking. The bass from the floor subs was shaking my beer almost off the step that I had placed it on (don't worry, I saved it).
I put down the now empty PBR can and started taking photos. Lots of photos. The two other photographers in the photo pit followed suit. We traded vantage points back and forth, exchanging head nods and air guitars to each other while snapping five feet away from these iconic musicians. Intermission was approaching and I was only allowed to photograph the first part of the show. I figured I should snap a couple more shots and head to where I had spotted my friends two levels up to join in the fun up there. I was about to exit the pit when Umphrey's started playing their first cover of the night; Kielbasa by Tenacious-D. The crowd went absolutely wild (and so did I, for that matter, it's Tenacious-D)! When Umphrey's covers a song, they really know how to make it huge and make it into their own. The chanting of the spot-on lyrics from the crowd behind me and the speakers blasting straight into my face was like listening to one of my favorite bands on a surround sound system. I loved every second of it. Wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder, there was not a single person not moving in the entire auditorium. Easily one of the most memorable show moments for me.
So what can I really sum up about the Umphrey's McGee show? Something about the grandeur, energy, and theatrics that goes into each and every individual show, night after night, enticing all the dedicated fans to religiously follows this band all over the world? A combination of brilliant lights, fantastic music, happy environment, and amazing friends? Well, I think for this one, you will just have to experience the 'Umph Love' for yourself.