Umphrey’s McGee Lights Up Pittsburgh’s Stage AE
Concert season has officially moved indoors, and this past Friday, Stage AE in Pittsburgh provided the perfect venue to keep concertgoers warm and toasty.
In fact, the crowd that sought refuge from the cold by filling the Steel City’s premier North Shore concert hall were treated to one smoking hot show.
Cutting-edge jam band Umphrey’s McGee returned to the venue nearly a year to the date from their last stop at Stage AE. The Chicago-based progressive rock sextet has been touring since the late ’90s, and the already stellar musicianship for which their reputation has been established over the years apparently becomes even more and more fine-tuned the more they perform.
Umphrey’s McGee as a band has the same personnel slots as classic six-man jam bands like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers Band – two guitars, bass, keyboards, drums and percussion. Although Umphrey’s masters the improvisational jam that fans of the genre love, they are much more of a progressive rock outfit, effortlessly playing intricate songs with searing guitars and quickly changing time signatures, tempos, beats and rhythms. In a way, Umphrey’s McGee is to the jam band scene as bands like Rush or Yes are to classic rock ‘n’ roll or as Tool is to heavy metal.
Their math-rock madness, attention to detail and musical drive toward precision are not only displayed through their playing, but also with their show as a whole – including one of the most spectacular light shows in the business, as well as a live sound mix that is second to none.
Umphrey’s McGee creates new and unique setlists every night, making each show special for fans who try to catch multiple shows during any given leg of a tour.
Their high-energy sets are often laced with a few cover songs played to perfection. The band will also designate a part in an original song each show for a “Jimmy Stewart” – a completely improvised portion of the program often with lyrics invented right on the spot. Some of the band’s songs actually spawn from recordings of their “Jimmy Stewarts” (dubbed after a performance hall that bears the actor’s name where many years ago they performed one of their favorite improv sessions.)
The “Stewart” for the Pittsburgh show came with their song “The Triple Wide,” and the show also included mind-bending versions of “Pay the Snuka,” Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust,” Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.”
For more information about Umphrey’s McGee, visit www.umphreys.com.