Monday, February 14, 2011

Jamband Spotlight: Umphrey’s McGee

Words by Greg Molitor (ReMIND Photography)

Fresh off kicking out two slammin’ performances in Detroit and Denver attended by myself and J-man, respectfully, Umphrey’s McGee is the perfect choice for this week’s Jamband Spotlight. The band, whose popularity has been rising steadily since its formation in 1997, has positioned itself as a fresh alternative in the jam-rock scene by taking on a relentless tour schedule year after year and providing a level of technical intensity more consistently than similar acts. Umphrey’s McGee takes its craft seriously...professional players to the highest degree, its members display a wealth of musical talent every show but also exude a silly yet confident playfulness that makes the standard Umphrey’s McGee show a special experience. Much akin to its youthful predecessor, Phish, Umphrey’s McGee is at its best when its throwing a party for its fans. For many of us live music fans, sometimes said party is all we are looking for.

I’ve selected two shows for this week’s Spotlight that feature the progressive aggressiveness Umphrey’s McGee brings to the table on the regular. These rockin’ performances are what loyal Umphrey’s fans live to see, providing a solid barometer for those who are unfamiliar with the band’s vast catalog of material. The first show was performed on April 21st, 2007, at The Vic Theater in Chicago. Labeled by many Umfreaks as one of the best shows they have heard or attended, this performance at The Vic has reached epic status throughout many circles of Umphrey’s fans. The audience recording provided is nearly flawless which thoroughly enhances the listening of any recorded show.

Umphrey's McGee Live at The Vic Theatre on April 21, 2007. <--- Direct Archive Link

The second featured show was performed at The House of Blues - Boston on January 21st, 2011. This more recent show was picked in order to highlight the band’s progression from 2007 to 2011. The improvisation is fantastic by all members, especially from keyboardist Joel Cummins. 2011 has been a year of growth for Cummins as his keyboard playing has become more focused and in-the-moment than it has been in previous years. There is also plenty of variety in the HOB show’s setlist. From old classics (“All in Time”, “Front Porch”, “Get in the Van”) to newer tunes and song mashups (“Conduit”, “Come Closer”), a vast range of Umphrey’s abilities can be heard with regards to both jamming and songwriting abilities. Enjoy this week’s selections, and until next week, have a good one!

Umphreys McGee Live at House Of Blues on January 27, 2011. <--- Direct Archive Link


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