Article and Photos by: Linda Carlson
Cincinnati, OH – Umphrey’s McGee’s strong Midwest following was evident during their two-night stint (January 12 & 13, 2018) at Cincinnati’s prestigious Taft Theatre to near-capacity crowds. Formed in 1997 in Notre Dame, Indiana, the band has garnered a loyal following through years of committed touring, starting in local college venues and expanding from there. The band consists of guitarists/vocalists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, keyboardist/vocalist Joel Cummins, percussionist Andy Farag, drummer/vocalist Kris Myers and bassist Ryan Stasik.
The band is releasing its 11th album (It’s Not Us) this month, which explains the expansive repertoire of music that allowed two full sets (nearing three hours) for both Cincinnati performances.
The band’s style is a jam band mix of largely instrumental pieces that pull from electronic jazzy soul with strong elements of progressive rock and funk. The accompanying light show, particularly during the second set, was nothing short of spectacular.
Umphrey’s McGee fans are not a disjointed group of people who bought tickets to a show, listened to the music and then went home. This was … a community of fans, many of whom attended the show both nights. Throughout the evening, people mingled with their neighbors, one row to the next, smiling and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Their mutual appreciation of the band and its music forged a bond between them. It was quite amazing to experience. The concert continued past midnight and the audience stayed with them to the end.
North Carolina’s Big Something opened the evening with an energetic yet soulful set that complemented Umphrey’s McGee style. Big Something is also comprised of six performers (vocalist Nick MacDaniels, keyboardist Josh Kagel, bassist Doug Marshall, lead guitarist Jesse Hensley, saxophonist Casey Cranford and drummer Ben Vinogard). Cranford was also invited to perform with Umphrey’s McGee during their second set.
Check out Umphrey’s McGee expanding tour schedule at www.umphreys.com/tour. If you attend one of their shows, be prepared to make new friends during a full evening of music.