Umphrey’s McGee is always looking for the next big thing to make its fans feel as connected to the Chicago-based jam band as possible. Events such as the UM Bowl and the band's “Stew Art” concert series have given fans the ability to manipulate the group's live set through online votes and texts in just about every context imaginable. So, it’s a little weird to think that an intimate “Storytellers”-style acoustic set, scheduled for a sold-out L.A. crowd Friday, is uncharted territory for the band.
“It’s definitely the first time we’ve done anything like this, as far as stripping back the layers of some of the meanings of our songs,” said keyboard player Joel Cummins.
On Friday, the band rolls into the House of Blues in West Hollywood for a double-set performance beginning with a low-key matinee set its members are calling “True Hollywood Stories.” However, unlike the popular E! documentary series, we’re not sure how much murder and scandal will be involved. But we do expect plenty of witty banter between jams.
"And there's plenty of embarrassing stories in there, as far as songs we've written," Cummins said.
The band is making its first L.A. stop since the release of “Death by Stereo” in September 2011. For Cummins, who recently moved to Venice from the band’s home base in Chicago, this will be his first hometown show as an Angeleno. And although surf and sun in the wintertime have been a welcome change from Midwest snowstorms, Cummins says L.A. has been a difficult market for Umphrey’s McGee to crack, with its sandal-wearing, virtuosic fusion of world music, folk and progressive rock, despite its enormous following at festivals throughout the country.