An Evening With Umphrey's McGee

Umphrey's McGee

After 18-plus years of performing more than 100 concerts annually, releasing eight studio albums and
selling more than 3.5 million tracks online, Umphrey’s McGee might be forgiven if they chose to rest on
their laurels. But then that wouldn’t be consistent with the work ethic demonstrated by the band, which
consistently attempts to raise the bar, setting and achieving new goals since forming on the Notre Dame
campus in South Bend, IN, in 1997. After releasing their eighth studio album, Similar Skin, the first for
their own indie label, Nothing Too Fancy (N2F) Music (distributed by RED), the group continue to push
the envelope and test the limits. Their brand-new studio album, The London Session, was a dream come
true for the members having been recorded at the legendary Studio Two at historic Abbey Road. The
stealth recording session yielded 10 tracks in a single day, proving once again, the prolific UM waits for
no one.

The original Umphrey’s McGee played a mix of originals and cover songs, waiting just eight months to
release their debut album, the cheekily titled Greatest Hits Volume III. Their initial “proper” recording,
Local Band Does OK, came out in 2002, followed shortly afterward by an appearance at the first-ever
Bonnaroo in Tennessee, selling more albums than any other band on the bill. The 2007 double album,
Live at the Murat, earned a four-star review in Rolling Stone and a Jammy for Best Live Album.

Despite attempts at categorizing UM, the band has devoted its craft to making their devoted followers feel as if they are part of something larger, through such technology-fueled innovations as fan-curated sets, theimmersive high-end audio offering, “Headphones & Snowcones,” where the pristine sound of the live soundboard mix is piped wirelessly through high-end personal monitor systems and headphones, as well as making every live show since 2005 available via their live music portal UM were also the first group to launch its own single-artist streaming service.
2014’s Similar Skin saw Umphrey’s McGee aim to strut their rock and progressive roots, with
touchstones ranging from the Police and U2 (“The Linear”), the Beatles (“No Diablo”), Nirvana (“Loose
Ends”) and Led Zeppelin (“Hindsight”) to Metallica, Soundgarden and Pantera (“Puppet String”) and
even the symphonic rock of Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Yes or Genesis (the closing nine-minute live
staple, “Bridgeless,” finally committed to record). “Every night, we have the opportunity to play whatever and however long we want,” says singer/guitarist Brendan Bayliss. Going into the studio, the challenge was to be as concise as possible, to trim all the fat we could.”

Recorded at IV Labs in Chicago between tour dates, Similar Skin was produced by Umphrey’s McGee
themselves as “a coherent vision,” featuring plenty of dynamics and contrast, with many of the songs
coming from their live repertoire. Thematically, Bayliss was inspired by his own fatherhood, tackling
such issues as living in the moment (“The Linear”), his own mortality (“Cut the Cable,” “Hourglass”),
having children (“No Diablo”), the things that bring us together (“Similar Skin”), the question of whether
there is a God (the Ryan Stasik slap-bass-driven “Puppet String”), sleep-walking (“Educated Guesses”),
the art of storytelling and, according to Brendan, “unresolved psychological issues from the past” (“Loose Ends”).

Finding themselves in London for three shows at the Brooklyn Bowl in June 2014, the idea of
recording at Abbey Road was first proposed by Umphrey’s producer Manny Sanchez, a notion, as
Bayliss recently told Rolling Stone that seemed as likely as “being asked to give a sermon at the

“It wasn’t a goal,” he explains, “because it never seemed like a possibility.” But never to be bound by
what seems possible, UM secured a coveted day at the world’s most famous recording studio and dove in headfirst.
The first songs Umphrey’s McGee recorded that day were altered acoustic arrangements of “Cut the
Cable” and “No Diablo,” from Similar Skin. “Something we could go in and get quickly,” according to

“Bad Friday,” a song the band debuted live in Denver the previous New Year’s Eve and “Comma Later,”
a song described by Rolling Stone as “smooth R&B menace with Jeff Beck-styled lead guitar” – was
another recent original, recalling the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s Wired album was also recorded at
Abbey Road under its cathedral-high ceiling.

“It makes one note just fold over and over again, coming back around,” marveled guitarist/ vocalist Jake
Cinninger, who ventured into the original microphone closet, where he discovered all the Neumann and
Telefunken mics The Beatles used still in pristine condition. “You can hear the echo in the room. The
notes keep singing operatically.”

“Glory,” “Eat” and “Out of Order” were three set-list regulars that had never been recorded for a studio
release. With time still left on the clock, the band decided to cut The Beatles’ “(I Want You) She’s So
Heavy,” for their own entertainment, but ultimately ending up including on the album.
Twelve hours after first setting foot in Abbey Road Studios, just before midnight, Umphrey’s McGee left
the historic room with their own new album, The London Session, what Rolling Stone dubs “a historical
primer, an evolution story inside 51 minutes.”

“You’re looking at 17 years of change,” says Bayliss. “We managed to capture a good representation of
our spectrum.”

Umphrey’s McGee are more than just a rock band – through nearly two decades, they have proven to be
on the cutting-edge of both music and technology, super-serving their fans through a community that
stretches from the campus of Notre Dame to the hallowed halls of Abbey Road.

General Admission: $32.50 | $2.50 increase day of show


Tickets are also available at Iroquois Amphitheater box office or by calling 877-987-6487

To RSVP to the official Facebook event click here.

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