Hear Jefferson Waful Give a Fascinating Play-By-Play of Lighting Umphrey’s McGee at The Cap

Matt Inman on January 8, 2018

We’re all pretty big fans of live music here, and one of the things that makes that experience truly special is the stage presentation of different bands and how they decide to light themselves and that night’s venue throughout the concert. Personally, I’m eternally fascinated by the connection some lighting designers have with the band they tour with, especially when that band is known for unexpected improvisation and hairpin turns in their concerts. For example: Jefferson Waful and Umphrey’s McGee.

Umphrey’s have a live show that will blow your face off, and a decent part of that is the spectacular light show put on by Waful every night. The Umphrey’s LD recently gave a little bit of insight into his genius in a video of him walking through a revealing play-by-play as he watches himself light the second-set “Der Bluten Kat” opener of UM’s show at The Capitol Theatre in Porter Chester, NY, this past October 21. The commentary is presented by
The Light Side podcast host and Dopapod LD Luke Stratton. 

I still can’t say I have any notion of how Waful makes it all look so simple and beautiful, but this 17-minute video is still quite informative. “The biggest thing for me when I do lighting is this is all muscle memory,” he says near the beginning of the clip when talking about utilizing The Cap’s projections via an in-house projectionist – something he rarely does, for obvious, quality-assurance reasons. “You can see, I’m not even looking at the stage. The stage is an after-thought, because I’m concentrating on what I’m doing.”

Waful also goes through some things he’s improved on over the years, including the correct timing in a certain instrumental portion of the song, a mistake which bassist Ryan Stasik eventually pointed out to the LD after several shows, along with some specific, technical aspects and more. All in all, it’s a wonderful glimpse into the world of the full-time LD. Waful even imparts some wisdom to those looking to follow in his footsteps: “There’s long stretches of time where I’m not looking at the show, and I think that’s important for aspiring young LDs. You want to know the music so cold that it’s the last thing on your mind, that it’s engrained in your DNA.”

Watch and learn below.