4/17 – Dekalb, IL
Night two and we are hitting our stride again after a bit of an off night in Chicago. I spent some time hanging out at the Egyptian Theater where Umphrey’s McGee were playing. It’s always good to talk to those guys – from the musicians to the the crew, they are a great group of guys, and to a man, so great at what they do. It’s always inspiring to watch them work.
I had a really encouraging conversation with Kris Myers, their absolutely brilliant drummer. It’s great to talk with other musicians who really understand not only what the life of a touring musician is about, but who also understands the kind of music that we are making. The thing I love so much about U-Melt – our willingness and ability to defy categorization by genre-hopping within our music, and what I consider to be a pretty unique synthesis of the sounds around us – is exactly what can make our path a difficult one to travel. It’s hard to really be able to relate to what that experience is like unless you actually experience it yourself.
Between the hardships of life on the road and the vulnerability one feels when one goes out onstage and bares his or her soul for people to judge night after night, our path can often feel like a solitary one. So when I have the opportunity to talk with other musicians who not only get what it really means to be in a touring band, but who also knows what it’s like to play what I consider to be “risky” music, I relish it – almost as much as I relish the opportunity to play for a packed room of people who are really getting down to the music we’re playing – which also happened tonight. It was a good day and a good night. Now, sleep.
4/18 – Madison, WI
This was supposed to be an outdoor show at the University of Wisconsin’s Union Terrace, but due to some nasty weather, and the mid-April date, it was pushed inside the Union’s walls. That was a little disappointing, but it turned out to be a fun show nonetheless.
The band is really on top of our game right now – we’re executing our parts as well as ever, and the improvisation has started to really go to a new level. Rob and I always try to make sure each show has one or two points where the band can really go off the map and make some music that has never been made before, and those have really gotten good lately. We’re all listening to each other really well, but even more than that, I feel like we’re responding to each other better than ever before.
Our improv has started to develop some really interesting harmonic ideas, and I feel like we’re taking more chances. The thing about improv is that the bigger chances you take, the greater the risk that you will fall flat on your face with it, but as the band gets better, we can take greater chances with the confidence that everyone will be able to go with it, and that’s when things start to get really interesting. Our trend as a band has always been that we get better as the tour goes on, so if we’re playing at this level now, I’m looking forward to the rest of this run and seeing what we’re going to be doing when we hit New Orleans in a couple weeks.
Be sure to check back on Wednesday at 1PM for the second installment of Zac Lasher’s Tour Diary. U-Melt returns to the Summer Camp Festival this weekend for two sets and returns to the Mountain Jam festival the next weekend. On June 4, the quartet comes home to Long Island for a post-Phish show at what’s become a home venue of sorts – Mulcahy’s in Wantagh. The Mulcahy’s show starts at 11:45PM and tickets are currently available here.