Pardon the Interlude: Umphrey’s McGee blows minds at Buster’s

By Alexandria Sardam

“What’s happening everybody, how ya guys doing tonight? We remember last time, we had a very good time last time we were here. We expect to do the same tonight, right?”

Brendan Bayliss, founder, guitarist and primary vocalist of Umphrey’s McGee, greeted the moderately packed yet fully enthusiastic room at Buster’s last Wednesday evening.

The band’s initial greeting of the buildup into “Minor Intro” perfectly paralleled the appetent crowd’s anxiousness, waiting for the guys to take the stage just moments before.

Vocalist and guitarist Jake Cinninger, and bassist Ryan Stasik joined forces with Bayliss as “Minor Intro” erupted into “Andy’s Last Beer.”

The band ferociously ripped apart the climax of the “Minor Intro,” and then smoothly slid into the funky beat, which pianist, keyboardist and vocalist Joel Cummins pumped out with ease and style.

The tight vocals accompanied “Andy’s Last Beer’s” lighter side, with snippets of that heavy, head-bobbing jam pumping perfectly throughout the song’s progression.

The sound contradiction between easy going and hard jam meshed harmoniously, capturing the true essence of the creativity Umphrey’s perpetually dishes out.

The band’s seemingly endless energy and talent was merely teased in those two opening songs.

“Push the Pig” followed, emitting this sense of silky smoothness and dazed out funk as the jam comfortably progressed.

The band was playing just as strenuously as they had in the first two songs, yet the mood cast into the audience was starkly different. The contrasting noises effortlessly blended causing the gradual crescendo of differentiating sounds and instrumental melodies to pick up in the most unexpected and seductive way.

How the band tenderly approached the climax of “Push The Pig” made the final jam resonate with the audience as a mind-blowing, musical whirlwind.

“Get In The Van,” “Intentions Clear” and a sweet, little version of “Booth Love” followed in the set, causing the vigor between band and fan to amplify. This revved up avidity contagiously spread throughout the audience, creating a heightened anticipation of what was to follow.

The band is known for covering hits from Toto’s “Africa” to Warren G and Nate Dogg’s “Regulate.” Umphrey’s decided to throw fans yet another curve ball with a pretty nasty version of Pink Floyd’s “Young Lust.”

Umphrey’s spared no details with their version, going as far as adding the dial tone and operator sounds that appeared in the original song off “The Wall” album.

The band dove into their second set with as much moxie as the first, continuing to entertain. The sway of the audience matched the ups and downs of the neon lights that revealed the beads of sweat dripping off the eagerly thrown up “U” symbol dozens of hands proudly formed. How appropriate.

While the band’s sound will spark distant hints of familiarity in blues, funk and jam, their music remains completely and refreshingly original.

Their sound is in your face and always unique, making each performance an unpredictably thrilling ride.

Umphrey’s McGee melts faces and takes names.