Article by Tim McLaughlin, Photography by Hapless Guitar Photography
Umphrey’s McGee at The Lawn
The Lawn at White River State Park, to me, is the best outdoor music venue in the Indianapolis area, The sky filled with stars and the smoke above the crowd from questionable vape pen contents made for a perfect night of music with my new crush. This Summer night, like many in downtown Indianapolis, had this show/ Indianapolis Indians were across the street and music in many of the downtown bars.
Ladies and gentlemen, Umphrey’s McGee
I have a confession to make straight away, I have never seen nor could I name one song by Umphrey’s McGee (“UM”) before I entered the photo pit, but after this show it will be remedied quickly.
UM is not quite a “local band” but being from South Bend IN many at this show were claiming them a such. Although like a couple of bands they often get lumped in with like Phish and The Grateful Dead, their fans travel very well. This is not to mention the obvious sight of many of those band’s t-shirts.
UM was formed in 1997 in South Bend Indiana while the members were attending Notre Dame, and the name is a play on one of the band member’s cousins Humphrey Magee. Although they are often labeled as a “jam band” their setup allows for them to be much more. They played some pop, some funk, some blues(y), and a whole lot of long jam songs.
Yeah that’s right, their SECOND SET. Let me be clear, not an encore but a full second set. When you are playing on support of your 12th album “It’s You,” you have a lot of songs. That’s what explained the need for a few thing: lots of water, music “trays” to hold their lyric sheets, and the glass of wine over by the keyboard players set up.
UM had an almost night and day set, which was a nice surprise. Their first set under the Indiana sun was ten songs which included three Beatles covers, but in the UM universe they made it their own. It was somewhat ironic that the first song out of the gate was “The Silent Type,” since this six piece creates a huge sound;. The bands Brendan Bayliss (guitar/ lead vocals), Jake Cinninger (guitar/vocals), Ryan Stasik (bass/ vocals), Joel Cummins (keys/ vocals), Andy Farag (percussion/ vocals), Kris Myers (drums/ vocals), seemed to have as much fun as the folks in the crowd.
The banter between the band members and between the band and the audience made this feel like a small venue setting. Their crowd remained on their feet for the nearly two-hour long show and if you were within throwing distance you might have been a recipient of a song sheet. The first set which included “The Fussy Dutchman,” “Puppet String,” “Wappy Sprayberry,” and the lighting guys were giving the crowd a taste of what to expect at when the second set started.
Brendan and Ryan goofing around
After a short break the band opened with The Beatles “Birthday,” to celebrate Brendan Bayliss’ 42nd birthday, which he made note that he has been in UM for half of his life.
The second set was eight songs that included “Make It Right,” “Maybe Someday,” “ a cover of Bob Marley & The Wailers “Lively Up Yourself,” and ended with “Den.” The second set also gave you one of the staples of a UM show, the lights. The lights the band brings to their show is legendary, not U2 legendary, but it is one of the best ones on the circuit right now. You go to a UM show for the package; The lyrics, musicianship, the band, the crowd and the lights.
The show ended with it 19th song of the night as an encore, “All In Time.”
The night was perfect, the music was perfect, and the crowd was perfect. Do yourself a favor and get on the Umphrey’s McGee bandwagon, there will be many on it to make you feel welcome.
A view from the crowd.