Umphrey’s McGee to mix it up at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
If you go
What: Umphrey’s McGee
When: 7:15 p.m. Thursday, March 24
Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe
Tickets: $27.52 plus fees
For Umphrey’s McGee, it’s all about keeping it fresh. It’s a desire that benefits both band members and their fans.
The progressive rock band, which started in South Bend, Indiana, in 1997, is known for its jams, though it tends to get a little heavier than some of its musical peers. But like many jam titans, Umphrey’s McGee has enough originals to play different sets night after night. The band will often go five or six nights in a row without repeating a song, said keyboardist Joel Cummins during a Tuesday phone interview. Band members use a set list archive when figuring out which songs it will play on any given night.
“I think the big goal is really not to repeat the things we’ve done the past couple times in town,” Cummins said.
Fans also never know what cover songs may be sprinkled into an Umphrey’s McGee set. The band has covered everyone from R. Kelly to Mötley Crüe to Talking Heads, and that’s just this year.
Umphrey’s McGee plays Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room on Thursday, March 24.
Cummins, who bought his first pair of ski boots this year, also hopes to make some turns while the band is on the road. Getting a view of Lake Tahoe from Heavenly Mountain Resort was on his personal itinerary.
“We’ve been able to mix music and skiing quite a bit lately, so that’s good,” Cummins said.
The band plays about 100 shows per year, down from 160 a few years back. But having slightly fewer days on the road hasn’t slowed the amount of material available to fans.
Umphrey’s McGee released “Reel to Real,” a documentary centered on home-video footage the band has shot over the years, on Jan. 1. The film covers moments of tension within the band, but really captures the group’s journey over its nearly two-decade-long career, Cummins said. The band hopes to have a West Coast premiere for the film in the future.
“Hopefully it will be something that becomes a wider release at some point,” Cummins said.
The band also released the “The London Sessions” in April 2015, less than a year after it released its eighth studio album, “Similar Skin.” “The London Sessions” contains 10 tracks and was recorded in 12 hours in the legendary Studio Two at Abbey Road.
Right now, the band is in “the song collection phase” of the recording process and hopes to have another album by the end of 2016, Cummins said.
“We always have new music that we are working on,” according to the keyboardist and Chicago Cubs fan.
In the meantime, fans can continue to experience the band’s innovation in the live arena. Umphrey’s McGee is again offering “Headphones & Snowcones” on this tour. The program allows show attendees to rent wireless headphones to listen to a live soundboard mix during each show.
“It seems like people are really enjoying that,” Cummins said.
New York instrumental rock-fusion quartet, TAUK, will join the band for Thursday’s show, one Cummins anticipates will be a fun one.
“We like to throw a rock and roll party,” Cummins said. “Come out if you want to have a good time.”
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