Once in a while, there’s a run of shows that’s just too good to pass up. Even if you have no idea how you’re going to pull it off, you just have to change your plans to make it happen. That’s precisely what happened to me this past weekend.
I was meant to fly to my hometown of Detroit from my new home of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, but New York beckoned. With Spafford playing Brooklyn on Saturday, Umphrey’s McGee rocking the Capitol Theatre on Sunday, and Phish opening their fall tour in Albany on Tuesday-Wednesday, it was a no-brainer for me to change my flight.
Thanks to Team UM, I was able to snag a photo pass and cover the show for you fine people. Here’s a rundown of the rock show that went down in Port Chester at this historic venue. But first, a little history lesson.
A Brief History of the Cap
The Cap opened way back in 1926 as a movie theater, selling out all 2,000 seats on its opening night. A few decades later it morphed into a concert venue, hosting legendary acts such as Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, and the good ole’ Grateful Dead. For some reason, the owners decided to change the place into a catering hall for many years.
Peter Shapiro stepped in to resurrect the Cap in 2011, and the legendary venue underwent some serious renovations. It’s been back in business for a few years now, once again drawing in big names on a regular basis.
Umphrey’s at the Cap
Umphrey’s McGee was quick to make their debut at the Cap back in 2012, playing the venue just a few weeks after it re-opened. Their gig on October 14th was their 5th in total, and it took fans a bit by surprise. The band had already announced their fall tour dates and decided to sneak in another trip to the Cap. Since I had never made it up there, I figured this was as good a time as any to catch my 116th UM show.
One great thing about this live music community that we’re all a part of is how easy it is to make friends. I was flying solo in NY, but I managed to link up with some guys who were also going to the show. We grabbed some beers and hopped on the train in Grand Central bound for Port Chester, which is about an hour away from the city. The venue is right across from the train station, making it super easy to catch a show there via public transportation.
After grabbing a drink with some other Umphreaks at a nearby beer garden, we all headed into the show. It’s definitely a beautiful theater, so be sure to get in a little early if you catch a show there just to take a look around. I popped down to the pit to snap some photos as the boys hit the ground running, opening up with a rocking rendition of “The Floor.” As far as show openers go, this one is tough to beat.
Next up was an extended “Draconian” that allowed the band to stretch their improvisational muscles. They quickly went right back into high gear as they slipped right into “Mulche’s Odyssey.” When you talk about turning it up to 11, this is the song. It never ceases to send the crowd into a frenzy, which I decided to take in from the scenic balcony.
UM continued the ebb and flow of this set by going with the rarely played “The Pequod.” It’s a beautiful tune and I was happy to catch it, as it had been several years since I’d seen it live. From there we got a newer tune “You & You Alone” from this year’s it’s not us album. That made for a nice sequence of what my wife likes to refer to as “pretty Umphrey’s.” The band definitely showcased their versatility with their Sunday Funday show at the Cap.
There wasn’t a whole lot of time to catch your breath at this show, though, as they turned right to the heavy rocking “Bridgeless” next. As this song tends to do, it was left unfinished as they instead slipped into “Hajimemashite,” my personal favorite UM tune. I could see them play Haji at every show and never get sick of it. It’s just such a damn good song.
I thought that was going to end the set, but we were in for a treat as the boys welcomed out two members of the opening band Southern Avenue to join them for a take of the Beatles’ “Come Together.” This was a bust-out for the ages, as the band hadn’t played it in over 1,200 shows.
Whenever Umphrey’s opens a second set with “The Triple Wide,” you know it’s going to be a heater. Nothing starts off a 2nd set dance party quite like this tune, and you could literally feel the building shaking on the floor.
From there we were treated to a few new tunes with “Seasons” and “What We Could Get” sandwiched by a “Plunger” for a fan’s 100th show request. Speaking of requests, Peter Shapiro himself was in attendance and he got a dedication as well with the 80s classic “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls. I first saw them play this one at their legendary Bonnaroo ’04 late night and always enjoy when it pops up.
The 2nd set then took a turn towards the darker, more evil side of UM, as we took a romp through “Resolution,” complete with a full-blown “Norwegian Wood” jam. Another classic Beatles tune, this one just fits perfectly in the middle of “Reso.”
Umph continued showing us their cover song prowess as they busted out ZZ Top’s “La Grange” for the first time in five years. This is an excellent cover and I hope it doesn’t sit on the shelf for another half a decade. To cap off a wild set, we were treated to a massive “Ocean Billy” that took many musical twists and turns over the span of 15+ minutes.
For the encore, it was full-on rawk show mode, as UM ripped through a sequence of “Kula” > “Bridgeless,” bringing the show full circle. It’s always fun when they split “Bridgeless” up and return to it at the end of the show. The rock hands were up all over the Cap, as we were sent out into the chilly October night wishing that this was a 2-night run.
All in all, this was a solid performance and a great addition to the Umphrey’s McGee fall tour. It may not have been the most responsible decision – then again when do I ever make those? – but I’m glad I changed my flight to finally be able to check this venue off my live music bucket list.
Umphrey’s McGee – The Capitol Theatre – Port Chester, NY – 10/14/2018
Set 1: The Floor, Draconian > Mulche’s Odyssey, The Pequod, You & You Alone, Bridgeless -> Hajimemashite, Come Together
Set 2: The Triple Wide, Seasons, Plunger, What We Could Get, I Ran, Resolution -> La Grange > Ocean Billy
Encore: Kula > Bridgeless