Wed, March 12, 2014
Ace of Spades
Thu, March 13, 2014
House of Blues
Fri, March 14, 2014
San Diego, California
Sat, March 15, 2014
Los Angeles, California
Belly Up Aspen
Tue, March 18, 2014
Podcast #151 - Take What You Need
Podcast #149 - Seagull Guitar
Brendan Bayliss - Guitar, vocals
Jake Cinninger - Guitar, vocals
Joel Cummins - Keyboard, piano, vocals
Andy Farag - Percussion
Kris Myers - Drums, vocals
Ryan Stasik - Bass, no vocals
Vincent Iwinski - Manager
Kevin Browning - Manager, Creative & Business Development
Bobby Haight - Tour Manager
Chris Mitchell - Front of House Engineer
Bob Ston - Monitor Engineer
Robbie Williams - Stage Manager
Jefferson Waful - Lighting Designer
Andrew Queen - Guitar Tech
Rachel Lowen - Merchandising and Brand Development
Fans who have followed Umphrey’s McGee for any period of time know that there are only two guarantees: you never know what you are going to get, and Umphrey’s always delivers.
Umphrey’s McGee has been relentlessly innovative in both music AND fan relations for 16 years and counting. Whereas the band’s stellar reputation is based on marathon concerts that mix original, technically demanding tunes with complex epics and playful covers (ranging from Toto to Metallica), it has chosen the same kind of attention to melody, songcraft, and musicianship. This is the care that make artists stand apart. Umphrey’s chemistry, however, is something all its own, built upon a relentless live schedule of 100-plus shows a year, a solid base of musical training, and friendships that go back to when they walked in the shadows of the Golden Dome at the University of Notre Dame.
“The thing we realized pretty quickly is that music is secondary to our relationships,” guitarist and vocalist Brendan Bayliss points out. “If our relationships aren’t strong, it heavily affects the music. Some bands don’t speak to one another, they aren’t friends, and I just don’t know how that works.” While competition was admittedly slim when they formed at Notre Dame in 1997, the band immediately became a campus favorite. When Umphrey’s moved to Chicago, it brought its Fighting Irish bonafides with them, so its initial hometown Windy City shows were packed to the gills with South Bend alumni and friends. The underground network of tapers helped spread the word about the band, and the ND connection also served the guys on the road. “The first time we went out west it was crazy,” Bayliss recalls. “It didn’t matter what town it was -- we knew somebody. I didn’t realize the reach of Notre Dame until after I graduated. I didn’t appreciate Notre Dame when I was there. Back then, I wouldn’t be caught dead in Notre Dame gear, but now I’m swimming in it and I wear it with pride.”
These days, the band plays for crowds from all over the United States and beyond. Incorporating a sophisticated mix of cutting-edge technology -- including a state of the art light show -- with meticulous attention to sonic detail, the band and crew intends to drop jaws and melt faces at each and every concert. Monthly podcasts, an extremely active presence on Facebook and Twitter, and digital “Easter Egg” hunts have led to a strong following even outside of the US, leading to successful international tours of Europe, Australia, and Japan, where fans screamed out song titles -- in English.
When it comes to experiencing Umphrey’s McGee to the fullest, the live concert experience is unparalleled. Special fan interactive events like the Stew Art series have redefined live music as we know it -- with fans texting to choose the direction of the band’s set -- while the four-quarter UMBowls (each quarter has a different interactive theme) have quickly become landmark events not to be missed. As Umphrey’s McGee continues to evolve and the band-to-fan relationship is constantly reinvented, the band stays ahead of the curve as they create events that no other band can offer, unique to an organization that is not afraid of anything except stagnation.
“Our live show is malleable and every night is its own thing, where you never know where things are going to go,” keyboardist Joel Cummins explains. “People aren’t used to us playing three-and-a-half to four-minute songs back to back, so an Umphrey’s album is a completely different experience than our live show, which is certainly something we were trying to do.”
Another initiative unique to Umphrey’s McGee is the “Headphones & Snowcones” program, where fans are given the unique opportunity to experience UM’s pristine sound up close and personal. Attendees can have the soundboard mix piped wirelessly to their ears via high-end personal monitor systems and headphones. It’s an entirely new way to experience live music and another innovation from a band that is constantly finding new ways to put fans first.
To date, Umphrey’s has sold over 3.3 million tracks online as every live show since 2006 is available via their live music portal UMLive.net. With a catalogue of seven studio albums and counting, and a series of yearly best-of compilations entitled Hall of Fame, Umphrey’s McGee continues to create new music through a writing process that never halts. The last studio release Death By Stereo (2011, ATO Records) was produced by sonic wizards Manny Sanchez (Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy) and Kevin Browning, whose deep knowledge of analog and digital gear has helped the band craft its sound for years. With the band members also assisting with production, ‘DBS’ was recorded at Sanchez’s The IV Lab Studios in Chicago (with the exception of the raw Rolling Stones-y “Wellwishers,” which was done at guitarist and singer Jake Cinninger’s home-studio in Michigan).
One of the perks of playing in Umphrey’s McGee is that the band members are allowed to be fans themselves, thrilled at the opportunities to share the stage with heroes like Huey Lewis, bassist Phil Lesh, guitarist Stanley Jordan, John Oates, and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, to name a few. Umphrey’s has even backed Lewis, gospel legend Mavis Staples, and Sinead O’Connor for a classic version of “I’ll Take You There.”
The next release slated for Spring 2014 will offer fans an array of original music, some tracks familiar to fans who have heard them in the live arena, while others are unreleased and never heard before. This eighth studio offering from a band that never rests will once again prove that Umphrey’s McGee is here to stay.