A busy weekend in music starts early for Kalamazoo this week with the Thursday night return of Umphrey’s McGee to the State Theatre. One of the most talented collections of rockers in music today brings their one-of-a-kind live performance back to Kalamazoo to kick off an amazing weekend in music that also includes Del The Funky Homosapien at Shakespeare’s Lower Level on Saturday night.
Umphrey’s McGee (UM) has been on the scene for over 13 years now and has acquired a passionate fan base along the way, commonly referred to as “Umphreaks”, that rivals that of The Grateful Dead. UM is known for their all-out live shows that consist of clever arrangements, ranging from powerful melodic chord constructions to all out dance tunes. With a heavy emphasis on improvisation and epic compositions, no two UM shows are alike and fans can always expect a top-notch live experience.
UM’s latest release, titled “Death By Stereo,” is their first release on ATO records and has given UM fans something new: straightforward three-to-four minute tracks. This style a rather large contrast from UM’s long-winded, never-ending and seamless live shows. Despite the absence of any radio play or television appearances, “Mantis,” UM’s prior release to “Death By Stereo,” debuted at number 62 on Billboard’s Top 200, a true testament to the passion of the UM fanbase.
One of the hardest playing and touring bands in the country, UM plays over 100 shows a year, with virtually every one consisting of two-plus-hour sets. Their live music innovations, such as their signature “UM-Bowl” in Chicago every year, consisting of four “quarters” of music with different interactive themes, and their “S2” performances, where fans determine the setlist via text message, have put Umphrey’s McGee on the top of the list of must-see live acts.
Umphreaks will be in full effect on Thursday night, with doors at the State Theatre in Downtown Kalamazoo opening at 6:30 p.m. and special guests Bright Light Social Hour opening the show. Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 day of) and are sure to sell out. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster online, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or in-person at the State Theatre Box Office. There are no additional ticket fees when you purchase tickets in person at the State Theatre.
Umphrey’s has sold out The State Theatre in their previous two stops in Kalamazoo.
In addition to the UM show, this weekend brings an exciting line-up to Shakespeare’s Lower Level. After the UM show, the party continues at Shakespeare’s Lower Level for the official Umphrey’s McGee after party, featuring Milwaukee’s electro-dance-rock group, Roster McCabe.
Named by Billboard Magazine as “one of five up-and-coming jam bands that could draw the audiences of today to the festivals of tomorrow”, Roster McCabe brings their high-energy dance party back to Kalamazoo to keep people grooving late into Thursday night.
The show starts at Shakespeare’s Lower Level at 9 p.m., with special guests Fly Paper and Gentlemen Hall getting things started. Tickets are $7 in advance, $10 at the door.
Shakespeare’s Lower Level keeps the music going Friday night with a Halloween Hoedown Throwdown, complete with a costume contest and featuring Ann Arbor’s very own Dragon Wagon. The folk-bluegrass sextet, which includes banjo, traditional six-string guitar, mandolin, viola, drums and even a ukulele-bass, headlines the festive night that includes a $50 prize for “best country costume.” Entry is $10 or $5 if you wear a costume.
The Shakespeare’s Lower Level weekend concludes on Saturday night with hip-hop legend Del The Funky Homosapien’s first ever appearance in Kalamazoo. Fans may know Del from his work with The Gorillaz, Heiroglyphics, his super-group collaboration as Deltron 3030 or even as Ice Cube’s cousin. He’s been in hip-hop since 1991 and owns a distinct, unmistakable, voice and flow that has given him a unique presence in hip-hop comparable to that of OutKast’s Andre 3000.
The show promises to be one of Shakespeare’s Lower Level’s biggest and most anticipated to date. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The show starts at 9 p.m. with special guests Dezert Eez, Matt Black and MC Friendly, Fess Grandiose.
From the return of Umphrey’s McGee, one of the premier live performers and jam-bands in music today, to a hip-hop innovator making his first ever appearance in Kalamazoo, this weekend provides an amazing chance for music lovers of all types to get into the Halloween spirit, all while enjoying some of the best old and new artists in the industry today.