Umphrey's McGee

Reigning for the past decade, the present, and perhaps far into the future on the jam-band circuit, Chicago's Umphrey's McGee arrive for their latest three-night residency at First Avenue with something genuinely new and out of the ordinary: an entire album of new material untested on the road save for the first three Colorado dates on this tour. Mantis, released on inauguration day, took nearly three years for the band to put together, and although there's plenty of room for UM's trademark improvisation, the album has the feel of an epic statement, its free-flowing moments carefully plotted for maximum effect, echoing the prime of such progressive rock mammoths as King Crimson, Yes, and Pink Floyd. Clocking in at a relatively tight 54 minutes, Mantis nevertheless is rife with sprawling pieces full of shifting dynamics and textures, spatial odysseys that bloom into searing guitar forays from Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss, psychedelic clouds of harmonizing vocals, metal runs that melt into Joel Cummins's piano, and Zappaesque rock-classical-jazz convolutions. In other words, it's prime UM high-concept stuff played with characteristic UM panache. 18+.
Fri., Jan. 30, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 31, 6 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 1, 4 p.m., 2009

 
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