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Monday, 26 August 2013 17:05

Concert review and photos: Umphrey's McGee and STS9 take a jam-packed jam fest to a new level at the Chesterfield Amphitheater, Thursday, August 22

Concert review and photos: Umphrey's McGee and STS9 take a jam-packed jam fest to a new level at the Chesterfield Amphitheater, Thursday, August 22 Mike Gualdoni
Written by Mike Gualdoni
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Checkpoints and stealth officers had a heavy presence on the streets in and around Chesterfield, Mo. on Thursday night.

You couldn't go three blocks without seeing a Dodge Charger lit up like a Christmas tree chasing down a poor soul or a shadowy silhouette of one hiding deep in a dark parking lot. The weird ones were out in full force this evening, and the law was everywhere, intent on keeping the peace of this quiet community.

The beautiful Chesterfield Amphitheater can be a wonderful place to bring the family for an enjoyable evening of music and company. The venue is surrounded by scenic nature walks that allow exploration of calmly babbling brooks, peaceful forests and a moderately sized lake that catches the sunset just right to provide a serene backdrop for concert-goers.

It's a great place for the city to come together to enjoy the sound of music while dads throw back the brews and moms double fist Sutter Home. But one imagines those very same parents would be keeping their kids inside and locking their doors as Umphrey's McGee hit the 'burbs.

In its three year history, the Amphitheater has seen the likes of orchestra performances, rock 'n' roll cover bands and Erin Bode -- all relatively tame and family friendly shows. However, this concert would be a different kind of family friendly show. Hordes of tie-dye wearing Dead heads and their youthful counterparts flooded the hill with ear to ear grins, many of them with pupils the size of quarters, out for nothing more than a good time with good people listening to good music.

The STS9 and Umphrey's McGee ticket was one of the biggest show to date at the venue, which could only be handled and run by the professional folks at the Pageant. Heightened security and red shirts stuck out against the colorful crowd, but the people paid no mind as the orange hues painted the evening sky and STS9 took the stage.

To many music fans, jam bands such as Sound Tribe and Umphrey's can be rather confusing. The sound is great, but after about 15 minutes, the repetition becomes a bit much for the casual listener. He or she begins to question the appeal of the genre and might quickly return to listening to Foreigner or Erin Bode. However, the secret to this sound is to lose yourself in it, to allow it to take you on a journey for just a little while. There are different means of taking this journey, from the total sobriety route to the Jerry Garcia route. Either way, the scene is a great place to share vibes with likeminded individuals, all enjoying journeys of their own.

As Sound Tribe took the stage and the light show showered the crowd, the once scattered masses were united with a boisterous cheer as they all began to push towards the stage to bob and weave to the music. The psychedelic electronic rock rolled off the curvature of the stage's roofing and projected out into the masses still warming up to the night as they awaited their desired level of intoxication. The air was dead still and the steaming humidity was palpable, but that didn't stop the good times. STS9 played far past dusk, and thousands of people kept on dancing.

With the sun now asleep and the night fallen upon the scene, Umphrey's took the stage and the crowd was once again ignited with energy. Any candy that was nibbled on at the beginning was now pulsating in full force, and those on the liquid diet were slipping and slurring to the groove. The intense lightshow blasted and blended bright colors into astonishing patterns in a display that one person described as "mind melting."

Girls wielding glowing hula hoops and poi spheres emanated feminine energy as they shook their hips to the beat, providing a mesmerizing lightshow of their own that peppered the hillside like fireflies in a field. A young couple who became one with each other and everyone else in a continuous moment of love and serenity excitedly shared that feeling with anyone who came by. It was a party that the suburban community had never seen the likes of before.

The show eventually came to an end and the sudden silence and darkness that overtook the venue shocked the crowd back into a semiconscious state. People slowly filed out with their respective drivers to face the brigades of police and mundane reality that awaited them, but that didn't seem to bother anyone. The afterglow of the night would keep them warm.

All photos by Mike Gualdoni.

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