Umphrey’s McGee Plots UMBowl

The band takes audience participation to new heights next month with a special show that will incorporate various levels of fan interaction.

Set for April 24 at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, the first UMBowl presented by Umphrey’s McGee is expected to last about five hours and will be structured somewhat like a football game in that the night’s show will be split up into four quarters.

The first quarter (Q1), will be an acoustic set determined by the audience with ticket holders receiving ballots for casting votes for the song selection.

The second quarter, or “Q2” will consist of a wholly improvised performance guided by bi-directional texting with messages from audience members “sifted and delivered” by “offensive coordinator” and longtime “sound caresser” for the band, Kevin Browning.

Q3 will be an all-request performance, with audience suggestions arriving via ballots. In addition to selecting songs, fans will also have a say on how they are placed in the set as well as new arrangements.

Photo: John Davisson
Wanee Festival, Live Oak, Fla.

The final quarter – Q4 – will have the audience acting as the band’s quarterback by “calling audibles” via text messages directing the course of the set.

UMBowl is the latest Umphrey’s McGee project relying on audience participation. Beginning in 2009 the band’s “Stew Art” series (also known as S2) usually took place on afternoons leading up to evening shows. The S2 events were held in front of 50 fans and the performances were totally driven by audience members texting descriptive words, phrases and pop culture references to Umphrey’s mobile interface.

Umphrey’s McGee also relied on audience input to help determine the amount of free bonus material fans purchasing the band’s latest studio effort – Mantis. As the number of pre-orders for Mantis rose, so did the amount of bonus material available for fans as they unlocked levels of content by convincing their friends to also pre-order the album.

For information on the upcoming UMBowl as well as everything else in the Umphrey’s McGee universe, click here for the band’s Web site.