Article and Photos by: Michael Flores
Miami Beach, FL – On an eventful, music-filled weekend in South Florida, Umphrey’s McGee took the stage at The Fillmore as part of their massive summer tour across the US. This marks my second Umphrey’s McGee show, the first of which I attended almost exactly one year ago, but I know some dedicated fans that have seen Umphrey’s McGee over twenty times, and they’d tell you that each show is a completely different experience. Who needs a setlist when it feels like the entire band can improv music so effortlessly?
With support from Magic City Hippies (formerly known as the Robby Hunter Band), a local indie funk band from Miami, the night kicked off to a great start. The band made their debut back in 2015, but prior to that it was just the solo performance of lead singer Robby Hunter. The band now consists of lead vocals Robby Hunter, drummer Pat Howard, guitar player John Coughlin, and brothers Ferny (keyboard) and Guillermo Belisario (bass). Their music was very relatable, given that they are a local band and reference spots around Miami in their lyrics. The voice changer Hunter uses adds a great value to their unique R&B/electronic/funk sound. They are currently now touring in support of their first newly released LP, Modern Animal.
The headliner, Umphrey’s McGee, an Indiana formed American Rock band, is a band that you grow to truly appreciate by seeing their performance live. They thrive on making each show a memorable experience, from each band member’s raw musical talents, to their amazing light displays courtesy of Lighting Designer, Jefferson Waful. The band consists of Brendan Baylis (Guitar, Vocals), Jake Cinninger (Guitar, Vocals), Joel Cummins (Keyboard, Piano, Vocals), Andy Farag (Percussion), Kris Myers (Drums, Vocals), and Ryan Stasik (Bass). It is hard to categorize their genre of music since it is a blend of multiple genres: everything from rock, jazz, funk rock, metal, reggae, and electronic. This sextet definitely knows how to musically communicate on stage as they do their solos and riffs, seamlessly transitioning through sounds and genres as their fans just eat it up.
With over 2,300+ live shows, 12 studio albums, and 20 years together as a band, Umphrey’s McGee has attracted one of the most dedicated followings from around the world. So much so, that Umphrey’s McGee fans can already recognize each other in the crowds from sharing such an experience together.
I was glad to have experienced Umphrey’s McGee with Jefferson Waful’s lighting for a second time, as this is Jefferson’s last year of touring. The way he combines the lights to flow with the beats of the music is simply on another level.
The show was split with two sets and was only getting better as the night progressed. The crowd was dancing to the amazing beats of the music, many of the fans having traveled around the country to follow the tour. At the end of their second set, everyone cheered for an encore which was granted by performing “Triple Wide” with a Stairway to Heaven ending. Overall it was a fun, unique, and unforgettable experience for all in attendance. Paired with the great acoustics of the Fillmore, Umphrey’s McGee put on yet another amazing live experience.