Umphrey’s McGee: You Walked Up Shaking In Your Boots But You Stood Tall and Left a Raging Bull
At Umphrey’s Mcgee’s 2006 New Years run in Chicago, guitarist Jake Cinninger sat in with Los Lobos during their opening set; after the show, Lobos guitarist Cesar Rosas came up to him and reportedly said, “You walked up shaking in your boots but you stood tall and left a raging bull.” Such prophetic-sounding advice is the impetus for Umphrey’s 15th studio album, which bears its own bold concept. The 12 songs included here are actually studio versions of the walk-on music the band members have used to start up their shows, before truly segueing into the night’s performance. It’s a concept that yields a purely instrumental album, and a powerful one at that. These songs are meant to hype an audience up—a tease of the euphoria they hope to build over the next several hours. Much of the sound here is derived from the prog-psych-metal sound that the band is so adept at imparting; the moods oscillate between dark and optimistic. The pulsating drums of “Leave Me Las Vegas” mingle with the guitars to create a rather sinister effect, while the electronic-inspired rhythms on “You Got the Wrong Guy” create a frenzied tension that would work well during a ridiculous action-flick montage. “Tango Mike” starts off in a slow, Pink Floyd-ian manner before dipping into a psychedelic groove that builds over the course of nearly five minutes. Yet, most of the songs contained here are euphoric, short bursts of energy, falling in the two-to-three minute range. And that’s the trick with Shaking—this is music for those who want to hit a powerful climax, song after song. As an album, it’s quite a unique offering and sure to appease the fans who’ve packed their shows year after year; a powerful, hard-hitting nod to the collective experience they’ve all had together.