Umphrey’s McGee to perform tonight


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mp3 sample: Umphrey's McGee

"Made to Measure"

Joey Meyers will attend his 25th Umphrey’s McGee concert this evening. Dedication such as his may make this UI senior seem like a groupie, but he is not unlike many of the band’s followers.

“I have seen many, many different bands live, but Umphrey’s ability to create a different show every night is something special,” he said. “I just love how this band is not afraid to take any chances.”

Umphrey’s McGee blends genres from rock to reggae and covers songs by artists ranging from Led Zeppelin to Nine Inch Nails. Its music is accompanied by lighting effects that create a trippy atmosphere.

Because of their Midwestern background, the band’s members are humble despite their talent. Umphrey’s McGee formed in 1997 at Notre Dame. The group’s home base is now in Chicago, where it has produced eight albums.

Guitarist Jake Cinninger said that while the band performs around 100 shows a year, members especially like coming to Iowa City.

“[Iowa City] has some of the best fans in the middle of the country for us,” he said. “When we go out on stage, we try to make sure we play things we haven’t played before.”

Iowa City fans reciprocate that by supporting the band whenever it is in town. The last time the musicians played here, the show sold 600 to 700 tickets. Because Umphrey’s set lists include a varying selection of original and covered music, fans such as Meyers keep coming back for more.

“One of the best parts about this band is the fact that [the members] listen, and they really do strive to please the fans with new ideas, merchandise, and shows,” he said.

In January of 2009, Umphrey’s McGee released its latest album, Mantis. Fans who pre-ordered the album were offered free bonus tracks as a way of showing the band’s gratitude. The group typically plays its songs on tour before recording them, but this not the case for the tracks on Mantis.

“There is a newer confidence in the band,” Cinninger said. “We are coming into stride and a comfortable zone, and it feels like we are all really jelling together.”

This positive vibe Cinninger described makes the upcoming show even more exciting for those who brought the group to town. SCOPE, the music organization that is sponsoring the show, expects more than 700 attendees, according to its Facebook invitation — an encouraging indication for the success of the concert.

“The thing about Umphrey’s is that it’s built on the reputation of being exemplary of what having an innovative live show means,” said TC Lockhart, SCOPE’s general manager. “You can see it 100 times, and it is really different every time.”

For Umphrey’s McGee fans in Iowa City, the wait for the shows they rave about is over, and they can expect a few surprises.

“We are always trying to see what is just around the corner for our music,” Cinninger said.

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