901 Wharf St SW
Washington, DC, 20024
Doors 5:30 PM / Show 7:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
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.
The conversation continues on their eleventh full-length album, it’s not us [Nothing Too Fancy Music]—which was released January 12, 2018.
“It represents the band, because it basically runs the gamut from prog rock to dance,” says Brendan. “We’ve mastered our ADD here. The record really shows that.”
“No matter what you’re into, there’s something on it’s not us that should speak to you,” agrees Joel. “This is a statement album for Umphrey’s McGee. The sound is as fresh as ever. The songs are strong as they’ve ever been. We’re always pushing forward.”
It’s also how the band is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Instead of retreading the catalog, they turn up with a pile of new tunes.
“It’d be easy to play the hits from our first five or ten years,” continues Joel. “We’ve never been a band to rest on our laurels though. New music is key to our continued development. We’re known as a strong live band, but we take so much pride in our writing. This album distinguishes us because the focus is on that writing.”
Appropriately, this idea gestated on a sunny May afternoon at Wrigley Field. Six months before The Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, Brendan took in a game on a rare day off.
“I can pinpoint the actual a-ha moment,” Brendan goes on. “My wife was out. My kids were at daycare. I walked to Wrigley, bought a standing room ticket, and enjoyed the game. Halfway through it, I thought to myself, ‘If we can get into the studio by the end of the year, we can have a brand new record.’ That’s where it all started.”
Bringing things full circle, Umphrey’s McGee entered I.V. Labs Studio in Chicago ready (and maybe a little hungover) a week after that historic game seven. For the first time since recording Local Band Does O.K. in 2002, five of the six members roomed together in a rental condo with Brendan staying a stone’s throw away at home.
“We would wake up, bounce ideas off each other, and go to the studio together,” recalls Joel. “We did all of this as a unit. There was something really special about our group ethos coming together for this project. We decided to go in for a week, live, eat, and breathe Umphrey’s McGee. It’s the most fun we’ve had in the studio. It really was a blast. Having that camaraderie was really cool.”
That camaraderie shines through in their inimitable interplay, which finds them at the pinnacle of their craft and groove as a band. That chemistry defines the approach—which sees Umphrey’s McGee hone their songwriting to its sharpest point to date.
“I feel like we’re getting better and better at writing succinct, concise musical pieces,” Brendan elaborates. “When we started out, we were trying to figure out how to fill time. We didn’t have much of a catalog, so we had to extend things and repeat parts in order to make up space. Since our catalog is so big now, we don’t feel the need to make everything ten minutes long. We’ve really trimmed the fat. Everything seems to be the right length.”