If you’re an Umphrey’s McGee fan, you know the only way to experience their music is live.  While jamming to them on your car stereo is certainly fun, the band will blow your mind and melt your face on stage.  They’ll take you on a wild ride through well-known songs, into improvisations and covers.  One of the most exciting live experiences is when they start out with a song and seamlessly move into another, so smoothly you don’t even notice, then while you’re basking in those sweet harmonies, they bring you back to reality by bursting back into the song they started with.  Joel endearingly calls these “song sandwiches” and prove to be a fan favorite.

Recently featured in Relix, Brendan Bayliss (guitar,vocals) made a comment about about Joel Cummins (keyboard, piano, vocals) making “piss” setlists, meaning they allow for piss breaks during the set.  Joel decided to defend his setlists, which most would argue barely need defending.  He reminisced some of his best sets, including plenty of “song sandwiches”.

His description of their set at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia on February 6, 2010: “Up next is a favorite set list move for me, the song sandwich (Brendan tends to prefer entire set sandwiches, which I also sometimes use).  This time was a rather unique double song sandwich with Bridgeless bookending Hangover & Wappy Sprayberry.  That little sequence is quite a variety of UM material that spans a lot of our sound, and the place went off throughout the whole sandwich that night.  Example 1, another rarely played gem pops up in a surprising spot and the set ends with more uptempo improv in Cemetery Walk II.”

Recently at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA, their encore had to be their sickest song sandwich yet.  The crowd went wild as they rocked out the familiar riffs to 1348, then segued into Eminence Front, a favorite cover of theirs.  Our friends affectionately sing along with the words “Put it in the butt! Put it in the butt!  It’s a Put On!” Just when we were ready to put a nightcap on a spectacular night, they swing back into 1348 for an incredible finisher.  I had to touch my face to make sure it was still there.

Other bands in the jam scene are quite familiar with the “song sandwich”, in particular The Grateful Dead.  More and more bands are incorporating improvisation and little surprises to make the crowd tingle all over.

Listen to archives of some sick sandwiches at:


What’s a favorite “song sandwich” of yours, whether it be Umphs or a different band? Put your comment below.