Getting into jam band music is like making love to an elephant: You either stay on top of it or get crushed. Fans of the genre don't just listen to the music; they ingest it with an almost methodical glee. With memorized setlists, nonstop tape trading and endless debates on Phish's definitive era, it's a culture that breeds completeness as much as carefree joie de vivre. Umphrey's McGee is most certainly a jam band, but the group serves as a good point of entry for those curious about the genre. Sure, the Chicago band's solos are long, and its concerts are epic, but its songs have less to do with instrumental virtuosity and more to do with simple, satisfying rock grooves. Listen closely and you can hear the Police's pop-reggae rhythms, Yes' prog-rock overtures and Lynyrd Skynyrd's Southern-rock boogie.
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