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      Umphrey's McGee in Athens

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      October 19, 2019

      Saturday   8:00 PM

      215 North Lumpkin Street
      Athens, Georgia 30606

      Umphrey's McGee

      The music of Umphreys McGee unfolds like an unpredictable conversation between longtime friends. Its six participantsBrendan Bayliss [guitar, vocals], Jake Cinninger [guitar, vocals], Joel Cummins [keyboards, piano, vocals], Andy Farag [percussion], Kris Myers [drums, vocals], and Ryan Stasik [bass]know just how to communicate with each other on stage and in the studio. A call of progressive guitar wizardry might elicit a response of soft acoustic balladry, or a funk groove could be answered by explosive percussion. At any moment, heavy guitars can give way to heavier blues as the boys uncover the elusive nexus between jaw-dropping instrumental virtuosity and airtight song craft. The conversation continues on their eleventh full-length album, its not us [Nothing Too Fancy Music]which wasreleased January 12, 2018.It represents the band, because it basically runs the gamut from prog rock to dance, says Brendan. Weve mastered our ADD here. The record really shows that.No matter what youre into, theres something on its not us that should speak to you, agrees Joel. This is a statement album for Umphreys McGee. The sound is as fresh as ever. The songs are strong as theyve ever been. Were always pushing forward.Its also how the band is celebrating its 20-year anniversary. Instead of retreading the catalog, they turn up with a pile of new tunes.Itd be easy to play the hits from our first five or ten years, continues Joel. Weve never been a band to rest on our laurels though. New music is key to our continued development. Were known as a strong live band, but we take so much pride in our writing. This album distinguishes us because the focus is on that writing.Appropriately, this idea gestated on a sunny May afternoon at Wrigley Field. Six months before The Cubs won their first World Series since 1908, Brendan took in a game on a rare day off.I can pinpoint the actual a-ha moment, Brendan goes on. My wife was out. My kids were at daycare. I walked to Wrigley, bought a standing room ticket, and enjoyed the game. Halfway through it, I thought to myself, If we can get into the studio by the end of the year, we can have a brand new record. Thats where it all started.Bringing things full circle, Umphreys McGee entered I.V. Labs Studio in Chicago ready (and maybe a little hungover) a week after that historic game seven. For the first time since recording Local Band Does O.K. in 2002, five of the six members roomed together in a rental condo with Brendan staying a stones throw away at home.We would wake up, bounce ideas off each other, and go to the studio together, recalls Joel. We did all of this as aunit. There was something really special about our group ethos coming together for this project. We decided to go in for a week, live, eat, and breathe Umphreys McGee. Its the most fun weve had in the studio. It really was a blast. Having that camaraderie was really cool.That camaraderie shines through in their inimitable interplay, which finds them at the pinnacle of their craft and groove as a band. That chemistry defines the approachwhich sees Umphreys McGee hone their songwriting to its sharpest point to date.I feel like were getting better and better at writing succinct, concise musical pieces, Brendan elaborates. Whenwe started out, we were trying to figure out how to fill time. We didnt have much of a catalog, so we had to extendthings and repeat parts in order to make up space. Since our catalog is so big now, we dont feel the need to makeeverything ten minutes long. Weve really trimmed the fat. Everything seems to be the right length.Its definitely the case with the first single from its not us The Silent Type. Powered by a bombastic beat, funkifiedrhythms, fiery fretwork, and a chantable refrain, this anthem introduces its not us with a bright and brilliant bang.Its super simple, explains Brendan. This character is in the wrong place at the wrong time making the wrong decisions. Everybody has to deal with temptation. Thats a part of life. This guy goes out, and he blows it after a girl offers him a cigarette. You see it all the time.Half Delayed builds from airy guitar into an iridescent refrain that serves as a reminder to stop and smell the roses. Meanwhile, the bass strut, anthemic beat production, and percussive wallop of Looks could be the love child of Nine Inch Nails and Talking Heads. Then, the metallic shredfest outro of Remind Me bleeds effortlessly into the gorgeous acoustic love song You & You Alone.We called the record its not us, because its really not about us, adds Joel. This is for the fans.Over 2,200 gigs and 5 million tracks sold later, theyve enjoyed countless milestones. 2002 saw them perform at the first-ever Bonnaroo and sell more CDs than any other act on the bill. They became the first group to launch its own single artist streaming service with, which houses recordings of every gig since 2005. The service has since grown and now lives on through, which is used by the likes of Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and more. They recorded ten tracks in one day at Abbey Road for The London Session in 2015. Notably, 2016s ZONKEY mashed-up the strangest of bedfellows into a critically acclaimed collection that unites Radiohead and Beck, The Weeknd and Fleetwood Mac, Talking Heads and Bob Marley, Metallica and Gorillaz, and more.That adventurousness extends to their legendary audience immersion experiences. From their initial bar gigs in1998 to three-nights playing to packed crowds at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in 2017, the group havesimultaneously remained intensely committed to their fans. Beyond intimate backstage encounters and ski trips with their most diehard fans, Umphreys McGee instituted the groundbreaking Headphones & Snowcones program, granting fans access to professional headphones and a soundboard-quality mix at shows. At their UMBowl, they empowered the audience to vote on the setlist in real-time and choose favorite improv themes via text message. In 2017, they stepped into another realm altogether by integrating themselves into the VR Platform Endless Riff.Most recently, Umphreys McGee dropped a 10-track surprise album, its you, which serves as a companion piece to its not us. The band's virtuosity and encyclopedic knowledge of diverse styles is front and center once again, punctuated with snarling guitar riffs and teeming with crisp acoustics. By harnessing the world-class musicianship and energy of their live performances into the precision of their studio craft, its you encapsulates a range that is rarely found in a single band. From the fresh and vibrant opening single Triangle Tear, to the ACDC inspired rhythm chiming through Attachments, to the iridescent personal tune Push & Pull, the album offers something for Umphreys McGees legion of fans and newcomers alike.It was almost like we had two of everything, said Joel. I feel like You & You Alone [from its not us] and Push & Pull [from its you] are these kind of nice, more pastoral, acoustic-based songs. We have Dark Brush [its not us] and Nether [its you] these sort of heavier, more aggressive pieces of music. Once we got to the point where we decided we were gonna do two, we felt like we wanted to break these up so that there was a balance between the two albums. Speak Up [its not us] is something thats a little bit funkier and dancier. I dont know if we really have something that goes along with that on the new one but with Hanging Chads you can tell that were having a good time being ridiculous in the studio. Its just nice that theres an element of levity there. This is 20 years into Umphrey's McGee, and not only do we have one new album of music, we have two albums of music. Were more fired up than we ever have been about the stuff that were putting out.Theres something uniquely Umphreys McGee that could never be mistaken for another band, Joel concludes. I hope it makes people think a little bit or shed a tear or two. Maybe, you smile or laugh. Life is hard. We still believe music can heal and motivate.Were here, Brendan leaves off. Were not going anywhere. Were starting to find our identity. I think if you give it a chance, youll be pleasantly surprised.

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