Music News

Umphrey's McGee

Add the goofy name to a tag like "jam band," and you've got a band that's stigmatized right out of the gate. True, Umphrey's McGee might not be for everyone. In terms of bands that traffic in long-form compositions — and Umphrey's McGee (playing with Galactic and the Wailers at Red Rocks) is certainly one — there are prog bands and there are jam bands, the former being characterized by linear compositions with rigid structures, the latter for its loose, well, jamming. Umphrey's McGee splits the difference between those categories nicely, though its latest, Mantis, probably errs more on the prog side, cramming changes by the bucketful into every song for a hyperactive sound not unlike that of Frank Zappa (if a little less insistently weird). Pretentious? Perhaps — but not sloppy. Live, the band tends to expand sections to allow for plenty of solos, but its musicianship is just as accomplished on stage as it is in the studio.