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Tuesday, November 12

Review and Photos: Umphrey's McGee - Sherman Theater - Stroudsburg, PA - Oct 24th, 2013

The Sherman Theater located in East Stroudsburg is known for having great shows time and time again and this year has been nothing different. Offering a wide open floor with ample room for the crowd to dance freely while steadily bring in major artists from all over the country the Sherman year after year offers some of my favorite shows period. Keeping in this tradition Umphreys McGee recently returned to the venue marking only their 3rd visit and first since back in 2010. On the back end of what has been nothing short of an epic tour these guys fully deliver yet another night of well-crafted music and what continues to for me be one of the most impressive lights shows I have ever seen created and brought to life by Jefferson Waful.
As the energy inside climbed steadily the crowd begins to chant “We want the Umph, Gotta have that Umph” over and over climaxing to a small roar as the lights come to life and the bands takes their places. As if the crowd already isn’t fired up enough the band rips right into Phil’s Farm which starts off with an upbeat and fast paced drum line backing some very heavy hitting guitar riffs. As the band builds the song continues to build in pace as suddenly the overall theme seems to be all but erased while a very blue grassy style jam full with vocals begins to emerge, this is pretty awesome as well as brief as the band transitions yet again. The song continually building finds the band meshing perfectly into a progressive jam that travels from member starting the night properly started with what turns into and almost 16 minute musical journey. 

As the set continues the band delivers several stellar moments with songs such as “Comma Later” and “Words” both were quite upbeat and well sung tunes that showcased how well the band seemed to be clicking and delivered peaks of pure musical bliss sending the crowd into moments of uncontrollable frenzy. Late in the set the band drops into a cover of Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Chant” mellowing out the vibe while keeping the room moving along with the music. This one hasn’t been seen since 2011 making it even more of a treat then it already was and seeming to be perfectly placed. This enjoyable cover allowed the band to show off the diversity they are beyond capable of, while paying tribute to a musical legend a win for everyone in attendance.

The second set was nothing short of amazing with an ever changing back drop of colors and dancing lights the band delivered a monster Mantis sandwich full of twists and turns. In a set full of highlights a run of 3 songs stood out the most to me starting of with a very well played “Wife soup” serving up everything from delicate piano sections to screaming guitar solo’s giving you another taste of everything they offer up all within one tune. This leads into Michael Jackson's “Billy Jean” another well placed cover of a musical legend that was done extremely well, and seemed to allow the band to just let loose and enjoy themselves as much as the crowd seemed to enjoy them. This was a full on dance party aided by a well-lit disco themed light show adding to a beat that is almost impossible to not get down to.
 The boys kept the light hearted and upbeat theme alive as they jumped into “Deeper”, offering up a funky little bass groove that builds into a full band jam keeping the dance party alive throughout the venue. This song although one of the shorter tunes of the night was also one of my favorites and was extremely well played as was everything throughout the evening. Ending the set the band transitioned back into “Mantis” which is by far one of my favorite Umphrey’s songs and was a beautiful way to end out a set full of exploration and solid tunes full of energy. The crowd seemed to be drawn into the stage like a moth to a light throughout the evening leaving it all behind right alongside the band.
The encore a rocking tune “Slacker” offered the crowd one more chance to shake it out and groove along with the music and lights emerging from the stage. The band after a night of infectious music seemed more than eager to play this one and it showed as it did through the entire show. If you have yet to experience Umphrey’s I would highly recommend doing so at your earliest convenience. Made up of 6 extremely talented musicians and all tied together with a light show constructed by one of today’s masters you get the full package each and every time. A band that can do it all and is beyond willing to show that off while consistently stretching their collective limits to bring their dedicated fans nothing but the best each and every time they take a stage. They continue to be a force within the music world and have given no signs of doing anything but continuing to blow minds and make music for many years to come.  
Words: Chason Heins
Photos: Mike Geller
 ©Grateful Music LLC