By: Sam Ossip
Chicago hosted their annual “Big Weekend” this past weekend with a line up featuring jam bands such as Umphrey’s Mcgee at the incredible and historic Aragon Ballroom, built in 1926. The atmosphere was reminiscent of an energy one might feel in the 1960’s in the height of the hippie movement. Umphrey’s Mcgee is a special band with special fans. Coming from South Bend, Indiana, this jam band has attracted a wide variety of fans from across the country with their eclectic but accessible music.
I spoke to many people who drove and flew from across the country to witness this show. This was my first time seeing the band personally, and I was blown away by the beautiful symphony of sounds. I got the chance to interview some fans who have been to Umphrey’s Mcgee multiple times, and some who were following the band around the country. I wanted to find out what draws them back time and time again to see the same band.
“I’ve been to 93 Umphrey shows. My first time seeing them was years and years ago, right here at the Aragon theatre in Chicago,” said fan Jake from California. When asked what draws him back time and time again, he explained, “Well being a musician, seeing how they come together and play so harmoniously with each other, it’s very special as a musician to get to experience.” Another fan named Todd from Chicago, Illinois gave his thoughts on the band and why he comes back time and time again. “This band. It’s magic in your ears. If you don’t believe me, you have to experience it for yourself. Let your ears get spoiled and you will come back again and again. They’re simply amazing. They’re definitely my favorite band of all time.”
It’s rare nowadays to have band with such a following considering that most music is released in singles rather than albums. There isn’t as big of a following as there seemed to be in the past, with large bands such as The Grateful Dead or the Allman Brothers, for example. Meeting these fans and hearing about the depth of their connection and love for Umphrey’s Mcgee and their music was refreshing and very inspiring as a musician and fan of music. I know I will be back at the next Umphrey’s Mcgee show when they return to Chicago, spoiling my ears with their magical music.