CONCERT REVIEW: Umphrey's McGee Blows Minds @ LA's Wiltern

Written by Jessica Klausing

 Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey's McGee photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee entranced the Los Angeles’ Wiltern theater for two, high energy-packed sets.

Amidst the hypnotic psychedelic light show and LED visuals, Umphrey’s McGee seamlessly weaves progressive rock, jazz, disco, funk, metal, and electronic genres into a cohesive dance mix. Each band member has a keen musical ear and an uncanny talent to communicate with each other on stage.

If you’re not familiar with these technically adept musicians then you might be a bit overwhelmed. At any given minute, the band may take a blues ballad and feverishly drive it into a tripped out psychedelic groove. Their classic hits are consistently being re-worked into a whole new sound.

The die-hard UM fans or “Umphreaks” will proudly express how each show is a completely different mind-blowing experience. Umphrey’s is known for their extended complex instrumental jams and abruptly switching songs mid way only to be re-visited later on in the set.  

 Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

Organ Freeman photo by Paul Citone.

The opener, Organ Freeman heated up the night with some organ centered instrumental jams. Rob Humphreys (drums), Trevor Steer (organ, key bass), and Erik Carlson (guitar) manage to intricate a funky aesthetic into their peppy soulful grooves. The trio had everyone up and swaying to the beat.

Umphrey’s came out next and launched right into the rock heavy hitter, “Dark Brush,” followed by the funkier “Bad Friday.” The first set comprised mostly of progressive rock melodies with Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals) and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals) alternating vocals between hard shredding electric riffs and bluesy stripped down rhythms.

 Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

Jefferson Waful (Umphrey's McGee Lighting Designer). Photo by Paul Citone.

After a twenty minute intermission, Umphrey’s returned with a more electronic trance fused second set, forcing everyone back up on their feet for “Wappy Sprayberry.” “The Floor” followed with Kris Myers (drums, vocals) and Andy Farag (percussion) flawlessly interweaving powerful percussions within the dreamy arrangements.

Without warning, Ryan Stasik (bass) rips us back in to the rock n’ roll endeavor “JaJunk.” Before closing out the set, Umphrey’s treated fans to a transcendental rendition of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” The performance left many excited whispers exchanged throughout the venue.

 From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

From left to right: Ryan Stasik (bass), Brendan Bayliss (guitar, vocals), and Jake Cinninger (guitar, vocals). Photo by Paul Citone.

Umphrey’s McGee continues to astound with their precise technically crafted musicianship, their vast variety in sound over their discography and their ability to create sophisticated and fun-loving tracks to just dance to and enjoy. If you’re looking for a band that challenges the multi genre scope, Umphrey’s McGee is well worth the listen!

SETLIST

Set I:

Dark Brush

Bad Friday

Bridgeless

Example 1

Rocker Part 2

Draconian

Bridgeless

 Set II:

Wappy Sprayberry

The Floor

Booth Love

JaJunk

Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads cover)

Maybe Someday

ENCORE:

Haji

The Silent Type