PICS: Umphrey’s McGee at the Observatory North Park

'Local band does OK': Beloved jam band Umphrey's McGee brought the prog-rock through the Observatory North Park on March 19.

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UM currently consists of guitarist/vocalist Brendan Bayliss, bassist Ryan Stasik, keyboardist Joel Cummins, percussionist Andy Farag, guitarist Jake Cinninger, and drummer Kris Myers.
As they usually do, the band tore through two sets (and an encore) during the show.
Known to throw in a few covers, Umphrey’s pulled out Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” and Sturgill Simpson’s “Call to Arms” on March 19.
While they’re routinely classified as part of the jam-band scene with Phish and the Grateful Dead (or Dead and Company now), they’re much more influenced by harder progressive rock than those other artists.
Influences range from the Police, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, early Genesis, and Iron Maiden.
Their music runs the gamut when it comes to style, combining elements from rock, metal, jazz, funk, blues, electro, bluegrass and folk.
But back to the beginning: Umphrey’s McGee was formed in 1997 by Bayliss, Stasik, Cummins and original drummer Mike Mirro while they attended the University of Notre Dame.
According to Cummins, “the name originated from a distant relative of Brendan’s who shares a similar namesake. We’ve altered the name slightly.” We’re guessing there might’ve been an “H” on that relative’s first name!
When they started out, they played both originals and covers by Guns N’ Roses, Phish, moe. and the Grateful Dead. After only eight months together, the band released “Greatest Hits Vol. III” in 1998. Soon thereafter, they released their first live album, “Songs for Older Women.”
2002 saw the release of their first properly recorded album titled “Local Band Does OK.” After playing Bonnaroo later that summer and performing in front of more than 100,000 people, the band nearly broke up. Mirro announced he was quitting to attend medical school (On a rather sad note: Mirro passed away on Jan. 30, 2014. He was only 36).
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Luckily for us though, the band soldiered on after Mirro’s departure and Farag reviewed hundreds of audition tapes -- eventually settled on Kick the Cat drummer Kris Myers.
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Since “Local Band Does OK,” the group has released eight more studio albums, with the latest being 2016’s “Zonkey.”
They’re also released 10 (!!!) live albums since 1999’s “Songs for Older Women” – with “Hall of Fame Class of 2015” being their latest – as well as nine DVDs of live performances since 2002.
The group’s March 19 first set is as follows: “Bad Friday,” “Walletsworth,” “Mantis Ghetts” into “Mantis” into “Example 1 (Mantis reprise),” “Draconian,” and Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.”
Their second set included: “JaJunk” into “OG Cut the Cable,” “Dump City,” Sturgill Simpson’s “Call to Arms,” “Slacker,” “Miami Virtue” into “Eat,” and “1348.” Their encore consisted of “Hajimemashite (JaJunk reprise).”
Until next time, safe travels Umphrey's McGee -- thanks for the great show!
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