Umphrey’s McGee’s brilliant instrumental talent hits Brenton Skating Plaza

Kate Lichter, Online Editor-in-chief

Friday, June 26 marks the day where my appreciation for man buns flew out the window, not even Harry Styles himself could bring the hairstyle redemption. Yes, long hair flew around past mens’ shoulders or wrapped up close to the base of their necks, sending my original expectations of an older crowd who wandered over from Chicago, the bands homeland, to Des Moines for various reasons out the window. Instead a younger crowd swarmed Brenton Skating Plaza instead, who looked like they were sent from Woodstock or Haight Ashbury and thrown into the Umphrey’s McGee concert venue. Besides the fantastic light show from Umph’s stage, a small group of followers displayed their own light through $450 hula hoops that created unique shapes and other luminous objects off on the grassier part of the venue.

When first seeing the venue, I was weary of how the sound would carry along with where the seating/standing fans would congregate to observe the show. And after finding a not to shabby parking spot only a few blocks away, entering with an open mind the venue was actually rather spacious, equipped with decent sized standing room, grass areas to place chairs and blankets along with a few food stands. After some songs were played by Umph, I soon noticed how well the venue centered the sound, due to the canopy above that seemed to carry the music throughout the setting.

The crowd also gave a boost to the venue and band, through synchronized cheers that only Umph followers would understand like it’s own language and re-energizing the atmosphere throughout the entire show. Though the venue wasn’t packed, the bands following brought more spirit then I’ve seen from some acts who’ve sold out an entire stadium.

Now sitting down to write the review, I realized there wasn’t much I disliked about the concert as a whole. The group of six are mind-blowingly talented instrumentally, with guitarists and bassists picking at the speed of light downstage while drummer Kris Myers pounds a ferocious rhythm along side percussionist Andy Farag and keyboard player Joel Cummins upstage. The jam band holds immense amount of talent vocally with Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss as well even though they sing 10 percent of the show, if not less. I was most excited to watch the two lead guitarists Cinninger and Bayliss because of their quick fingers and outstanding riffs. However I was pleasantly surprised by Myers’ ability to play the drums, something my dad had originally pointed out in the music when I was first introduced to the band earlier this year, but didn’t pay much attention to until the concert. Now after seeing them live, a new appreciation of their musicianship has stemmed from how all six can change keys and rhythms in mid song without a hitch, but what do you expect from a band that’s been together for over 17 years.

Overall seeing Umphrey’s McGee live in concert made my fondness for their music grow even more, so if you have the chance to see an Umph concert, don’t even hesitate to go.



Concert rating scale 1-10 [10 being the highest]

Experience: 8

Venue: 8

Price: 7

Umphrey’s McGee

Instrumental: 10

Vocal: 8.5