Demystifying the mystery of Umphrey’s McGee
Umphrey’s McGee’s music is a cluster-fuck of genres, which can confuse even the most eclectic of musical palates. But, they also have the most loyal fan following of any band we’ve seen, so they must be doing something right. Something that we’re here to figure out right here, right now.
If you don’t know the band that sold out Red Rocks last weekend, then honestly, we aren’t surprised. But since Umphrey’s McGee has played together for 16 years, sold 3.3 million online tracks and performs over a 100 times annually, you could feel kind of bad about it.
Umphrey’s McGee is a jam-band, and by “jam,” we mean they resist categorization like a toddler resists vegetables. They mash up everything from new age to electronica, funk to progressive, rock to tribal, and so on. This is a band who gives zero fucks when it comes to societal definition of music. “We’re definitely not associated with a three-minute verse-chorus-verse song structure,” says singer-songwriter-guitarist Brendan Bayliss in the group’s online bio.
This sextuplet not only rocks out in whatever which way they feel like, but they have a cult following who prove conformity isn’t the only thing that sells concert tickets. Umphrey’s McGee has been named one of the most ‘fan-friendly’ bands of all time, not only because they like to give away their music for free, but also because they host meet and greets, BBQs, and private shows for their most committed fans. Needless to say when their fan base finally stepped up to help them sell out Red Rocks for the first time ever, the band didn’t hold back.
We talked to an ultimate Umphrey’s fan, Eric Seward, whose attendance at Red Rocks on Saturday night marked his 22nd time seeing Umphrey’s McGee live. What else have you done 22 time this year other than poop? We weren’t kidding about the cult-like fan following.
“This was my fourth time seeing Umph’s at Red Rocks and I am never disappointed. They have the best lighting tech in the business and their song choice tonight was hands down one of the best. They also debuted a song from their new album tonight called Educated Guess, but personally hearing them perform Wappy Sprayberry was the best thing in the world,” Eric told us.
Eric says that even though it was his 22nd time seeing Umphrey’s McGee, each show is better than the last and it’s pretty damn hard to argue with that kind of experience backing it up.
Although song names like Wappy Sprayberry kind of freak us out, we had to agree with Eric, and the thousands of other Umphreys’s fans, that this band definitely knows how to put on a show. The spiraling tunnels of light, mixed with the fog and marijuana mists created the perfect hazy atmosphere for Brendan Bayliss to belt out his killer vocals. When Bayliss wasn’t busting out blissful notes, we enjoyed drum solos by the talented Kris Myers, and badass guitar riffs from Jake Cinninger. Those boys sure know handle an instrument.
At a few points the band tried their luck performing electronic music, ostensibly to keep up with all the cool kids you know and help the free-flowing molly kick in. But we thought they sounded best when they stuck to what they are known for; jamming out sans computers.
Overall, Umphrey’s McGee put on a show with a little something for everyone, and as they said many times during the set, it was absolutely a night to remember. We were only left with one question. Do you guys think Umphrey’s could see the thousands of little orange stickers, which said “UmphLove”, which were plastered on their fans, from stage? Someone find out for us please, because we don’t usually rep the color orange without a damn good cause.