Umphrey’s McGee | 11.18.06

The jamsters were reminded why they came in the first place, with Meyers' kick drum stomping out the beat to "The Triple Wide," a trance-y dancer that proves you don't need a DJ for some quality techno.

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

This just in: Umphrey's McGee is now the leading cause of irregular heartbeats…and the flailing of pasty limbs. On Saturday night, the Midwestern monsters of jam displayed their usual proficiency, cutting seamlessly through impossible grooves, changing time and exchanging masterful leads with their special brand of lighthearted showmanship. The dance floor was full and most were engaged, tickled time and again by the effortless complexity of dueling guitarists Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss, a tandem whose synchronicity (call the Police!) is so literally harmonious that few could catch their mistakes, even after being sucked into their world.

Defined largely by their live performances, Umphrey's relentless touring schedule has done little to dampen their spirits. The entire sextet was full of gooberish enthusiasm, daring the pre-worn-jeans fans to follow the lead of their crunchy contemporaries and cut loose—a feat roundly accomplished with a rousing performance of fleeting favorite "Front Porch." The rare inclusion of this elder Umphrey's rocker as the centerpiece to their usual medley was not lost on the die-hard fans, whose enthusiasm was only trumped by an electric cover of the Who's "Baba O'Riley." On the latter song, Cinninger flicked out the famous, rapid-fire synthesizer intro on his guitar to the uproarious approval of the well-schooled crowd, setting up Kris Meyers to bring down the house with Keith Moon's classic drum lead-in. Shortly thereafter, the jamsters were reminded why they came in the first place, with Meyers' kick drum stomping out the beat to "The Triple Wide," a trance-y dancer that proves you don't need a DJ for some quality techno. A bouncing encore of "Jajunk" closed out the night, and no one could blame the band for representing themselves as per usual—an unpredictable group who refuses to compromise their roots.

You never know what you're going to get with an Umphrey's McGee set list. It's almost a given that the night will include some jaw dropping guitar skills and technical mastery, but there will also be at least one surprising cover that will make you smile. And there will be a boundless energy so tightly focused that it's often hard to tell between what is rehearsed and what is being improvised. A perfect blend of adventurism, easy vibes, and introspection, Umphrey's McGee is a sure bet for any music lover—especially the loose-limbed variety. | Dave Jasmon

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