The music of Umphrey’s McGee unfolds like an unpredictable conversation between longtime friends. Its six participants—Brendan Bayliss [guitar, vocals], Jake Cinninger [guitar, vocals], Joel Cummins [keyboards, piano, vocals], Andy Farag [percussion], Kris Myers [drums, vocals], and Ryan Stasik [bass]—know just how to communicate with each other on stage and in the studio. A call of progressive guitar wizardry might elicit a response of soft acoustic balladry, or a funk groove could be answered by explosive percussion. At any moment, heavy guitars can give way to heavier blues as the boys uncover the elusive nexus between jaw-dropping instrumental virtuosity and airtight song craft.
Over 2,200 gigs and 5 million tracks sold later, they’ve enjoyed countless milestones. 2002 saw them perform at the first-ever Bonnaroo and sell more CDs than any other act on the bill. They became the “first group to launch its own single artist streaming service” with UMLive.net, which houses recordings of every gig since 2005. The service has since grown and now lives on through Nugs.net, which is used by the likes of Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and more. They recorded ten tracks in one day at Abbey Road for The London Session in 2015. Notably, 2016’s ZONKEY mashed-up the strangest of bedfellows into a critically acclaimed collection that unites Radiohead and Beck, The Weeknd and Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads and Bob Marley, Metallica and Gorillaz, and more.
That adventurousness extends to their legendary audience immersion experiences. From their initial bar gigs in 1998 to three-nights playing to packed crowds at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2017, the group have simultaneously remained intensely committed to their fans. Beyond intimate backstage encounters and ski trips with their most diehard fans, Umphrey’s McGee instituted the groundbreaking “Headphones & Snowcones” program, granting fans access to professional headphones and a soundboard-quality mix at shows. At their UMBowl, they empowered the audience to vote on the setlist in real-time and choose favorite improv themes via text message. In 2017, they stepped into another realm altogether by integrating themselves into the VR Platform Endless Riff.
Most recently, Umphrey’s McGee dropped a 10-track surprise album, it’s you, which serves as a companion piece to it’s not us. The band’s virtuosity and encyclopedic knowledge of diverse styles is front and center once again, punctuated with snarling guitar riffs and teeming with crisp acoustics. By harnessing the world-class musicianship and energy of their live performances into the precision of their studio craft, it’s you encapsulates a range that is rarely found in a single band. From the fresh and vibrant opening single “Triangle Tear”, to the ACDCinspired rhythm chiming through “Attachments”, to the iridescent personal tune “Push & Pull,” the album offers something for Umphrey’s McGee’s legion of fans and newcomers alike.
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