UMPHREY'S MCGEE: CLIMBING TO THE TOP

Umphrey's McGee :: 05.06 - 05.08 :: Great American Music Hall :: San Francisco, CA

It seems as though in the blink of an eye Umphrey's McGee has grown from an unknown side stage act to one of the fiercest musical forces on the globe. Their growth has never been more apparent then during their three-night run at San Francisco's most beloved Great American Music Hall - screaming lights, intricate guitars, and an energy so thick you could cut the fat off of it. Whether you attended one night or all three, the band left little doubt in anyone's head that they were the real deal.

Ryan Stasik (left) :: Aron Magner (Conspirator) with Umphrey's McGee (right) :: GAMH :: SF
Umphrey's success has been growing rapidly over the past few years, from their break out set at the inaugural Bonnaroo festival to the release of their latest studio album Anchor Drops, to a nice feature in Rolling Stone the buzz is busting. The most enticing aspect of the band is the fact that the music continues to develop as the fan base grows. Never committing to one style or pace, the band lashes out at its crowds like a hyperactive child caught in the middle of a candy rage. They have embodied a signature sound that keeps you on your toes. The complex time changes and layers in their jams are as beautifully unique as they are lethal, making one thing certain: Umphrey's McGee is not for the squeamish.

Jake Cinninger (left) :: Brendan Bayliss (right) :: Umphrey's McGee :: GAMH :: SF
Friday night was the only event to feature an opening band, and those duties were handed to Conspirator featuring Aron Magner and Mark Brownstein from The Disco Biscuits alongside DJ Omen. A deep blend of trance and groove space, Conspirator took the Great American on a musical, mental ride that resembled the soundtrack of the film Baraka. It was the first time that many had seen this band play, and there is now quite a buzz building for their late night set at this summer's High Sierra Music Festival. Aron Magner reappeared at the end of Umphrey's first set, lending his skills on keytar to an on point rendition of A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran."

Umphrey's McGee :: GAMH :: San Francisco
The art of the cover song is certainly something that the Umph boys understand, religiously delivering handcrafted takes on some of the most appropriate and hilarious songs that span from Metallica's "...And Justice For All" to Toto's "Africa." In addition to "I Ran," the crowd was treated to the Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper," Van Halen's "Running with the Devil," and one of the most spectacular renditions of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" imaginable.

Umphrey's McGee :: GAMH :: San Francisco
With six full sets to unleash over the span of three days, UM appeared right at home from the first notes on Friday to the last bit of distortion ringing through Sunday night. The light show was all over the place, bellowing out greens and blues. At several points throughout the weekend, it appeared as if the Great American had been submerged under water. Sunday night marked the light engineer's 22nd birthday. Not a bad gig to be on the road heading up the lights for one of music's strongest new entities. The material played spanned the band's entire catalog, offering up newly-arranged material from Local Band Does OK as well as hefty portions from their latest, Anchor Drops.

Joel Cummins (left) :: Umphrey's McGee :: GAMH :: San Francisco
It was a bit of sweet relief that for the most part, they strayed away from the "in your face" metal, although there was a hearty portion of that displayed throughout Saturday night's show. For many, Sunday was the show that really got it done. The room was about half full, and the energy was busting at the seams. It's a shame that Umphrey's doesn't get out to the West more often because the kids here in San Francisco eat it up with a spoon. From drenched shirts to a sticky dance floor, and from sore muscles to dilated pupils, Umphrey's McGee delivered the goods.

Words by: Matt Layton
Images by: Dave Vann
JamBase | California
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http://www.umphreys.com

[Published on: 5/27/05]

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