Monday night’s $200 per head, VIP Umphrey’s McGee show at Denver’s latest porn-shop-turned-music-venue, was a great success brought together from years of work, sweat and dance moves.
To be a fan of the band is to be a fan of the folk lore that is Umphrey’s Mcgee. You may think you know about your favorite jam band from Chicago with the great light show and bass lines, but knowing that just scratches the surface.
Through the band’s popularity and use of social media, Umphrey’s McGee has put on its third “fan produced” show. These shows — billed as a “Bill GrahUM” Monday — are a nod to legendary concert promoter “Bill Graham” and first launched as kind of dare to fans to see if they could book the band themselves and be the famed concert promoter for a day.
So the story goes: Umphrey’s McGee fans pooled their money together after super fan Nick “Moe” Morales answered the call and created a Kickstarter campaign to book his favorite band for $250,000. Two-hundred-fifty fans put up $1000. And the result was a huge success and the first of these “Bill GrahUM” Monday shows was in Chicago in 2011.
On the eve before New Year’s Eve, the same concept was brought to the newly renovated 1Up-Colfax in Denver. The venue/bar/arcade opened up to live music on Dec. 20.
1UP may reclaim Colfax the title of housing the best small venue in town. It will certainly be the top choice acts with that 250-300 draw. With sloping floors that lead you right to the stage and the ability
to provide a great stage lighting show, 1UP is far more inviting than similar clubs around town with towering stages and bad sound.
After all, for $200 you had better feel close to the music. Umphrey’s Mcgee fans were packed tight but sill comfortable enough to move around and make it to the room length bar with zero lines. If you get too heated up on the dance floor you can still get a view of the stage from the main bar and play some Ms. Pac Man to take a break from the music.
Umphrey’s McGee squeezed this show between the band’s 28th, 29th and 31st shows across the street at the Fillmore Auditorium. The event was sold as a great “who? what? where? when?” teaser on the band’s social media.
Here is the info, per the Umphrey’s McGee website.
When: December 30th, 8:00 pm through early on December 31st
Where: Mystery venue to be revealed
What: An incredibly intimate rock show
How many: 350 tickets
How much: $200.00 Who: You! (18 and over)
Includes: Four hours of open bar (beer, wine & booze) Setlist voted on by all ticket holders, Exclusive die case pin commemorating the event, MP3 download of the show UM + Oskar Blues beer koozie
On top off all that, Umphrey’s McGee kicked in $15.00 per every ticket sold to assist with the flood relief efforts in Colorado.
Monday night’s fan-voted set list included covers of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets,” Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” and Michael Jackson’s “”The Girl Is Mine.” And with a more than two hour sound check earlier on Monday, the band must have been squeezing in as much time as possible to practice the fan favorites.
Front man Brendan Bayliss and bassist Ryan Stasik led the way with precision, playing for both sets and kicking off the second set with a well over 15 minute version of“Nothing Too Fancy.” This was followed by followed by “FF,” “Blue Echo” and “QBert.”
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.
Dylan Langille is a Fort Collins-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his photos here.