If the neologism "improg" doesn't scare you off, continue reading. Improg is the marriage of improvisation and progressive rock. Before you start tripping balls about "them dang hippies getting high and taking you space truckin'," this group's sonic vision is more akin to King Crimson and the electronical sounds of Daft Punk than to Phish or the Dead. However, Umphrey's McGee grooves as well as any hippie-dippy jam band and isn't afraid to coerce listeners into some light twirling with extended rhythmic passages before bursting forth with hot-lick guitar solos supercharged by a couple of Tubescreamer distortion pedals, à la Trey Anastasio. Often the jams return to earth via metal-esque sections filled with chunky, strutting guitars and sweep-picking shenanigans that would have any Guitar Institute of Technology graduate perking up her ears.
Like any good jam band, Umphrey's McGee frequently winks and nudges at classic tracks as varied as the Beatles' "Norwegian Wood," Ozzy's "Crazy Train" and Rimsky-Korsakov's musical masturbation showpiece "Flight of the Bumblebee." These winks can come off as either smug or impressive, depending on how high you are on bath salts. Regardless, they are a testament to the musicians' virtuosity and remind us that Girl Talk hasn't replaced the real thing yet.
Umphrey's McGee plays the Wilma Sunday, March 25, at 8 PM. $20.