Saturday, November 28, 2015

Umphrey's McGee's Class of 2014: Another Star Studded Cast of Inductees

Umphrey's McGee's annual Hall of Fame Series has officially entered its 5th year - this year inducting the class of 2014. The fan-voted set of tracks making up the previous year's perfect concert has been a staple of the series since it's inception in 2009. The series is an innovative and unique way to release compilations to hook the beginning listener, and stir up debate on the choices for the more discerning fans, as all good Hall of Fame results should do.

A live "Greatest Hits" set could easily be a tricky proposition. Most of the greatest live albums in rock history have been recorded over several nights, the bands often choosing a venue in which they feel comfortable, stretching out over a series of nights and picking the highlights. The Umphrey's Hall of Fame series is different - like previous years, its 22 tracks weren't chosen by the band, they were voted on by Umphrey's legions of fans.  Culled from an entire calendar year of performances, The Class of 2014 spans 16 different nights, blended so seamlessly that if you were to close your eyes and ignore the setlist notes, it would be all but guaranteed you'd never know; speaking to the consistency and high quality of performance Umphrey's brings to the stage night in and night out.

It is also proof that Umphrey's McGee is by no means your every day jam band.  The whole band is locked in from beginning to end, displaying brilliant musicianship in a non-stop freight train of different styles and speeds.  The nearly relentless dual guitar mastery of Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger drives almost the entire set, ranging from the light and jammy - August and Front Porch - to the genre-bending, much edgier and nearly jam-metal of Bridgeless and Wizard Burial Ground.  Quite simply, if you're searching for a entry point to Umphrey's McGee, or even just looking to add more "Umph" to your music collection, The Class of 2014 is the right choice.