An Evening With Umphreys McGee

Umphreys McGee

Death By Stereo’s concise melodic approach and accessible songwriting is everything fans had hoped for, but not what anyone expected. Death By Stereo is disarmingly straightforward. Sure, you can dance to it, but the clever arrangements, meticulously crafted chordal interplay, and virtuoso instrumentation put Umphrey's McGee in a category all their own. “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. 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/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.”

These days, the band plays for crowds from all over the US and beyond, and incorporates a sophisticated mix of cutting-edge technology, including a stellar light show. Its Stew Art concerts redefine 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. Umphrey’s tight-knit relationship with its rabid fanbase includes the band making recordings available of every live show since 2006, monthly podcasts, an extremely active presence on Facebook and Twitter, and digital “Easter Egg” hunts. This has led to a strong following throughout the U.S. and to successful international tours of Europe, Australia and Japan, where fans screamed out song titles even though they couldn’t speak a lick of English. One of the perks of Umphrey’s McGee is that it allows the band members to be fans themselves, having shared the stage with heroes like Huey Lewis, guitarist Stanley Jordan, John Oates, and jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman, to name a few.

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