first_imgFor fans arriving early to Milwaukee’s Summerfest last night, there were plenty of options of live music options to choose from. Mr. Blotto and Led Zeppelin 2 were some of those options as they played before Umphrey’s. However, there weren’t just options at the festival itself. Right down the road at the Miramar Theatre, UM keyboardist Joel Cummins did his own thing. Dubbed Joel Cummins Piano Hour, the keyboardist displayed an intimate side to his musicianship before UM’s throwdown. All of it made for a great day of music and fun.The piano hour was absolutely exceptional. Local band Evergreen played some nice acoustic tunes, including Neil Young’s “Helpless,” to start the music off. After that it was all Joel Cummins. It was such a unique experience to see him stripped down to a grand piano in such an intimate setting. Most notable was seeing the excitement of Joel for the piano. He began the evening playing classical music, with each piece being precluded by some background information on the composers. Joel’s excitement and passion for the music was very apparent when he talked about some of his musical heroes like Dmitry Kabalevsky, Claude Debussy, and Miles Davis. After being jokingly booed when he announced he would stop playing classical tunes and bring the UM, Joel played staples like “Cemetery Walk,” “Wizard Burial Ground,” and “Kimble.” The former two were especially interesting hearing them sans the other instruments. He ended the show with Billy Joel’s Rootbeer Rag and then a “whimsical” version of Orfeo. It cannot be understated how cool of an experience the Joel Cummins’ Piano Hour was and hopefully this will not be the last one.From piano to full band, the main show was set to begin at 10:00. So for music fans who didn’t want to see Styx, Passion Pit, Michael Franti, or Pitbull, at the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse stage was a band by the name of Umphrey’s McGee. They started at ten o’clock sharp and didn’t waste a minute until their long, single set ended when the clock struck midnight.They opened the set with “Similar Skin” before going into some jamming territory with “JaJunk.” They really stretched it out and before they could finish the song they instead went into “Wife Soup.” “Bad Friday” and “Wappy Sprayberry” were other tunes that contained quality improvisation. “The Linear” got spacey before returning to “JaJunk” to end the set. The best was saved for last as they encored with a massive “Ringo.” The song had two separate jams, one of which was reminiscent of “All Things Ninja.” It was a great way to cap the night.Now it would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rain. So to be clear, it was raining almost the entire set. And by raining, I don’t mean sprinkles; I mean absolute downpour. It was coming down cats and dogs, and I realized after about 30 seconds that the poncho I was wearing was going to do absolutely no good at keeping me dry, so off it went. If you embraced the rain like most fans did then the night really became magical. Looking out into Waful’s lights and just seeing the raindrops crashing hard to the ground was something Umphreaks who attended will not soon forget. It was a perfect one setter from Umphrey’s McGee with a little help from Mother Nature.   Setlist: Umphrey’s McGee at Summerfest, Milwaukee, WI – 6/30/16One Set: Similar Skin, JaJunk > Wife Soup, Bad Friday, Mulche’s Odyssey, Piranhas, Wappy Sprayberry > Cut the Cable, The Linear > JaJunkEncore: Ringolast_img read more