This is it my fellow umphreaks. Probably my last write-up, might do one for UMBowl. Y’all know me well enough. Let’s get to it. Reminder: this run, I’m keeping “we want patient build” in my mind as I search for the jade.
2/7 THE BLUEBIRD BLOOMINGTON
The CRV is still in the shop, and I had already reserved a rental car, just in case this would happen. Luckily Honda is still footing the bill for everything car related. Thank fuck for lemon laws. Got a toyota rav4, which wasn’t far off from the CRV, but it wasn’t the comfort trim, thats for sure. The drive to Bloomington from Cincinnati was nice! Some state highways off 74, about 2.5 hours to get there and I got to see a lot of beautiful forestry along the route and this town called Columbus, IN. It’s got a theater or something called CRUMP. Though that was hilarious because I’m a moron.
I had my wife driving separately, as I wanted Knoxville to be a solo show again. It was awesome just being alone and going to shows, I wanted it one last time on this long ass run. We arrive at the Hilton Garden Inn which is literally one alley away from the venue, door to door. The king suite there was pretty clutch and only like 300 bucks. Worth it. Had dinner at this spot called FARMBloomington. Farm to table type place. Cocktails were great, server was cool as fuck, we got burgers and they were bomb. Highly recommend.
On the walk home we stop in this vape shop, and sure enough, they got tanks. Ain’t no way the NM were showing up in Bloomington so I got one of the big ones for 120. Great deal fr. It’s on the same block between the hotey and venue. (@Professor_Shuapop doesn’t believe you can buy whole ass tanks from vape shops, literally every college town shitty “vape cbd store” has em).
Some loons and a White Russian and some edibles and we’re ready to get to the venue a bit before showtime and the line is down the block. I was amazed, thought no way the venue can hold all this. It was dicks to cheeks in there but not unsafe or anything. I really dug it, basement show type feel. Could barely see shit for the first set but the jams were fire. Eat, Syncopated, Fenced In, Front Porch, shit was soooo good. Second set we got a little closer thanks to our friend and his brother pulling us to a spot where we could actually see. This dude is fuckin cool, he said he’s a long time friend of UMs and grew up in Bloomington way back. He said he followed the dead for two weeks right out of high school, so he knew exactly where my mind was at during this journey. Rocked out with them while UMs busted out a heated fuckin Q-Bert god damn. Killer show all around. None of the jams felt rushed. Maybe they’ll rush in Knoxville so I can experience the reason of the jade. We’ll see.
Head outta there, send our wellwishes to Jay and his bro and hope to see em at the Cincinnati show. Crank out some loons in the hotey and crash for the Knoxville drive.
2/8 THE MILL AND MINE KNOXVILLE
Wake up in Bloomington, get some room service brekkie and pop an adderall for the long 5.5 hour from Bloomington to Knoxville. My “wife” Sonya heads out towards Cinci. I load my luggage into my rental and think “eh fuck it” and snag a tank for Knoxville from the vape shop.
Beautiful but long drive through southern Indiana, then to Louisville, Lexington, and then finally south to Knoxville. Hand the rental off to the valet at the embassy suites by Hilton on Gay st. Same thing here, I booked the suite. Had a perfect view of the wigsphere from the world’s fair, and it perfectly lined up with the mountain ridge in the background. One of my observations between all these Midwest/Appalachian cities is a sameness to them all (except Norfolk), but the parts that make each of them unique are really fucking cool. Like Pittsburgh’s tributaries and bridges containing their downtown on a cute little point, or Detroit’s iconic car buildings, I really loved Knoxville’s sunsphere.
I snag some comfort food from this place called Myrtle’s in their market square. I went in because they advertised comfort food, but then it’s all fucking country on the sound system. Eat my food as fast as I can and walk to the venue to grab my tix from box office. Back at the hotey, I’m ripping loons and a Russian, waiting for @Professor_Shuapop to land at his hotey so we can link up. Head outta my hotey and start walking to Josh’s hotey which is on the way to the venue nice enough. Finally find the mfer. Dude was super cool, college professor at some small college. He had never been miracled before and I’ve never miracled somebody, so got those two birds stoned at once. At the same time, got to finally meet a borter, wish he was a little more jaded though. (I need a real fucking hater, ruin my fucking time, let’s go lmao).
The Mill and Mine was pretty cool, nice wide open floor venue. Josh asks what songs I’m hoping for or predictions, I just start saying newer songs to rile him up, but he did call a fussy Dutchman and I did call a mulches. The blue echo was fire and Josh pointed out the lights being blue and I was like “ohhh yeahhhh” cuz I’m moron. At set break, I grab Josh a pair of ear buds and tour shirt, as a thanks for tagging along for this amazing Craig Run. Earlier I had said to Josh “I’m not a fan of reggae.” UMs plays Kinky Reggae and Turn and Run lmfao.
After the show, we’re deciding whether to grab another drink or call it, and unfortunately I had tank but was down to one balloon left. So we decided to call it, both had long days the next day. I headed back to the hotey and hit the tank til my last balloon popped and crashed.
2/9 MEGACORP PAVILION CINCINNATI
Woke up in Knoxville to a foggy rainy morning. Check the weather to see when it’ll clear up so I can hit the Sunsphere observation deck without it being lame foggy gray views. Local weather lady looks like an attractive Kathy griffin. Grab the hotel brekkie and decide fuck it, wanna see the observation deck and split. Ended up parking in the wrong garage surrounded by parked cop cars, luckily the car wasn’t fucked with. The view was gray but I could still see mountain ridge and the hotey I was viewing the sunsphere from. The inside had some factoids and memorabilia of the world’s fair. The aesthetic of everything from that time was hitting my brain chemicals in all the good ways. I’m a sucker for anything history. Sadly no wigs.
Head out of Knoxville into the mountains headed north, AND RIGHT INTO SOME FOGGY ASS LOW VIZ RAINY FUCKING WHITE KNUCKLE TRAFFIC. Why the FUCK am I dealt the shitty scary mountain drives after out-of-town runs? Luckily it wasn’t as long as the WV white-out drive. After 4 long hours and a bout of highway hypnosis (30 seconds eyes closed at a rest stop and a short walk around it cured that almost 100%), I finally arrive back at my house, exhausted as fuck and greeted by my “wife” and our four cats. Was nice to finally be home and off the road and kick my shoes off. But fuck, we still got one more show to go brothas.
I decide not to wook out and just stick with my usual cocktail. Snag an Uber to the venue with another long line. No biggie because we walk into them playing All In Time, the tune that got me into them, and my first ever “favorite tune” of theirs. Shit got me hyped. I head to the bar after waiting for All In Time to end or jam out, and who should I find but old friend from Bloomington. He comes back to the floor with me and Sonya and jams with us damn near the rest of the show. He showed us on his thigh a guest pass for after show. THE MFER WASNT BULLSHITTING. Then of course you all know about the whistle kids which had a sick jam out of it. Loved August (love all Brendan singing tunes, Jake too, I love singing the songs). WBG was fire as always. Escape Goat is a fave. The Floor always calls for a good show in my opinion. When the regulate cover came out, I first saw em do it in Cbus 08. The show started feeling like a reprise of all the shows I’ve been to all the way back to 07. Like I felt a tiny sliver of each show in this one. The mad dog conduction was so fun in person (could already see the jade slugs sliming about this after they hear it on nugs). Then the encore…I had said to Sonya on the way there “This show feels bitter sweet. Would be funny if they did bittersweet haj” and they busted out haj. AND THEN FINISHED WITH ALL IN TIME
Tears streaming down my face, the house lights come up and I’m trying to quit tweaking and lock back in. Such a wonderful fucking bookend of a show for me. Old friend and his brother come up to us and chat after the show. His brother and his bro’s girl decide they’re ready to leave, and hand us their guest passes. I was floored. Couldn’t express my appreciation. Old head tells me to chill out first, which honestly, was called for at the time, cuz I was bursting with joy. Couple deep breaths and I was locked back in. Told him i wasn’t trying to fanboy out like they’re the Beatles and I’m some Cotswold school girl. I really didn’t want to break that 4th wall that separates the band and the fans. Plus, they’re just regular dudes that golf n shit. I don’t golf. I get high and listen to Umphreys and work at my friend’s deli just so I have a reason to leave the house. Luckily we spent so much time talking after the show, that when we walked back stage, the band had already left lol.
No biggie, the night was already way more than I could’ve ever asked for. Was cool to see what a backstage looks like though! I had 4 tickets to the after party at Stanley’s pub where my buddy Jack Steiner was jamming in a supergroup/thrown together band with Joel sitting in and Mad Dog and Nick Blasky and a few other peeps. The two people I had tickets for had to back out, so I had one for Jay to join us. We arrive at Stanley’s and as we walk up to where they’re confirming tickets (sold out show), this long haired wook dude gets turned away, and I’m like “nope! Come with us homie, I got one extra that’s going to waste if ya don’t!” Dude was super appreciative and bought us a round of drinks. The jams from the band were fucking great. Some dead, some phish, some talking heads, some Bowie. All at great proficiency too. Old head was loving it and when Joel walked in, dude went to say hey to him. When he comes back to us, he says “Alrighty Greg, go say what ya gotta say man!”
I just tell him that I had just finished 11 nights of the tour so far, and that they’ve been my favorite band for 16 years, and as they always say to us “thank you for letting us do what we do” I said “thank you for doing what you do” gave him a fist bump and went back to the dance floor with my wife and the homie. Thanked him immensely for everything extra he gave me that evening and snagged an Uber back home.
This was the greatest thing I’ve ever done in my life behind meeting and marrying my “wife”. I can say that with 100% certainty. All of the magic I experienced in meeting new wonderful people, sharing that magic with those I love, and having that loving magic returned back to me in spades.
TLDR: Be like little Nicky, release the good, the bunnies and Popeyes. And you’ll get all the good come right back to ya. But if you keep spewing shit and negativity, then you’re gonna keep getting AFAF played in full 0 improvisation as an entire tour (I’m fine with this, let the toxic commentary begin my friends )