Umphrey’s McGee is one of those bands that is relentless. Since they started playing bar gigs in 1998, they have toured relentlessly — logging more than 2,200 shows across the country, including three nights at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Given the grind they have gone through, it might get easy to get stale. But they have built a reputation on cutting-edge live shows that cut across the musical spectrum — part funk-soul, part bluesy guitar rock, some experimental prog-rock, packaged primarily in what you’d consider a jam band.
They’ll bring that eclectic mix to the friendly confines of Red Butte Amphitheatre on Sunday night for the garden’s latest installment in the summer concert series.
The band has been busy. In 2018, they released “It’s Not Us,” and followed it up with “It’s Not Them,” and then later in the year issued “It’s You.” The entire trifecta was touted as a shout-out to the devoted followers that had filled their venues for years.
“We called the record it’s not us, because it’s really not about us,” keyboardist and vocalist Joel Cummins has said. “This is for the fans.”
They’re a band known for innovating. They were the first band to launch their own streaming service, UMLive.com, which was a warehouse for the copious inventory of live shows. Now it’s been absorbed into Nugs.net, the concert sharing platform used by some of music’s biggest acts.
If you check out those live shows, you’ll get a taste of what Umphrey’s McGee is all about. They’re not averse to a 12-minute long sprawling jam, heavy on guitar and drums, or following it up with a soft shoe-gazer, all of it tight and polished from years on the road.
They’ll hit Red Butte with Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a quartet from Donald Trump’s favorite city — Baltimore — which, as you might guess from the band’s name, doesn’t take itself overly serious. The ping-pong playing pigeons psych-funk is a nice fit for Umphreys.
Tickets for this show are still available, start at $37, and you can find them at https://redbuttegarden.ticketfly.com. It’s an early start time (we have to work tomorrow, people!) with doors opening at 5 p.m. and music starting an hour later.
Bonus show: Last week, the folks at Red Butte added one more act to their summer lineup, and it’s going to be a big one — Modest Mouse, playing Sept. 20.
You might remember the mice from when they jammed a Twilight Concert well beyond capacity back in 2010. They’ve been back to Utah twice since (2016 at Saltair and 2017 at The Complex). We still haven’t seen an album from these guys in years, but they did recently drop a new single, “Poison In The Well,” a buzzing, thumping screed against a broken system.
This one is sure to sell out, so get tickets fast.