Umphrey's McGee has never played by the rules. Now, with the unveiling of their all- new Stew Art Series (aka, "S2") - an interactive fan experience where audience members "conduct" the band's live improvisations - Umphrey's McGee continue to offer their fiercely loyal fanbase the most innovative musical experiences available. With recent S2 events in Milwaukee and Portland (Oregon), next on the itinerary is November 21 at Washington D.C.'s 9:30 Club, before their evening performance.
Hosted as individual events before that evening's already schedule show, Umphrey's Stew Art Series is a crowd-sourced improvisation experiment, in which all the music performed by the group on stage will be entirely directed by S2 audience members. Check out this S2 video from the inaugural S2 event in Milwaukee.
The first few S2 events have been received with overwhelming enthusiasm and to rave reviews, including recent coverage in Billboard Magazine. Look for S2 events to be announced in select markets throughout 2010.
Umphrey's offers their next S2 event in D.C. - during a two night run at the 9:30 Club. Details are as follows:
Umphrey's McGee S2
Saturday, November 21 @ 4:00 PM (doors at 3:30 PM)
815 V Street, Washington D.C.
ON SALE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 4 AT 12 NOON EASTERN TIME AT WWW.UMPHREYS.COM
S2 tickets are extremely limited and will sell out!
Umphrey's McGee Shows
Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 @ 8:00 PM (Doors @ 7:00 PM)
815 V Street, Washington D.C.
Tickets: $25.00 single day, $40.00 2-night pass / All Ages Welcome
Show tickets available now at www.umphreys.com
Umphrey's McGee's DC visit is one stop along a massive fall tour. The remaining list of this season's confirmed appearances is as follows:
November 11 The Opera House Toronto, Canada
November 12-14 Higher Ground Ballroom Burlington VT
November 15 Port City Music Hall Portland ME
November 17 Northern Lights Clifton Park NY
November 18 Water Street Music Hall Rochester NY
November 19 Mr. Small's Theatre Millvale PA
November 20-21 9:30 Club Washington D.C. featuring S2 Event
December 10-14 Caribbean Holidaze Runaway Bay
December 29 Vic Theatre Chicago IL
December 30-31 Aragon Ballroom Chicago IL
March 21-23 Jam in the 'Dam, The Melkweg Amsterdam
For S2, sold-out crowds of 50 fans submit their ideas by texting descriptive words, phrases, and pop culture references (pretty much whatever came to mind), to the Umphrey's Mozes mobile interface. The suggestions are then filtered by the band's long time Sound Caresser Kevin Browning and projected on a screen for the band to digest and turn into the next phase of the jam. The band's music varies stylistically with suggestions ranging from "an afternoon bus ride in Jamaica" to "drinking pina coladas...in a hurricane". As one elated fan commented after a show, "S2 was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. It's always been a dream of mine to meet the band, and the opportunity to participate in leading the Jam for the band was a dream come true as well."
As highly skilled improvisational musicians known for using a complex set of signals on stage to prompt spontaneous musical changes, S2 is proving to keep the band on their toes as they navigate through the audience’s prompts. S2 events also include a Q&A session providing an opportunity for fans to ask about what they’re witnessing (or ask anything else for that matter). As part of the ticket (which is actually be a custom laminate that is different for each S2 event), every attendee receives an autographed CD of the Stew Art Series they attend - minutes after the event has concluded. To be clear, each S2 show is a TOTALLY separate event than the scheduled concert date and will be sold as a separate ticket - getting a ticket to S2 does not get you into the show later that night (and vice versa). The S2 experiment is just that, an experiment. Keyboardist Joel Cummins explains, “The improvisational elements of our show have always been one of our favorite parts about playing together - and we think the audience feels that way, too. That’s our inspiration for the S2 series. It’s also a great way to stay on top of our chops.” S2 events take place in the early evening before the respective show start times. Prices and ages vary from show to show - which should last one hour (with Q&A).
This is not the first time that Umphrey's McGee has taken new approaches to delivering their music to the fans. Before their latest studio recording, Mantis, was released in January of this year, the group made the album available for pre-order in an interesting way. Fans were offered more free bonus content the more Mantis pre-orders were received; as the fans "unlocked" levels of content by getting more of their friends to pre-order the album. The idea was to give the fans incentive to help spread the word about the album, and to offer a totally unique music experience.
But it's always been about experiencing Umphrey's McGee on the concert stage, and the group recently announced a string of fall dates, including some final festival stops of 2009 - Jazz Aspen Snowmass Festival, moe.Down, and Telluride Blues and Brews, plus a special Halloween performance in Yosemite, California. And to get yourself in the right frame of mind for the upcoming tour, you can check out the recently-released live DVD, Umphrey's McGee - Live. Recorded during their 2007 performance for PBS's Soundstage, Umphrey's McGee - Live is offers an incredible 13-song set on DVD, including six favorites not shown during the PBS broadcast, which premiered last February.