Time.com has picked up on the latest trend in the live music universe.
They devoted a video feature to an innovative idea from Umphrey's McGee. As part of its "Stew Art" series (a play on words referencing Chicago's Jimmy Stewart Ballroom) Umphrey's is offering fans the opportunity to attend intimate performances where the fans in attendance get to direct the band's improvisations via text message. Time.com put together the above brief video about it, complete with over-the-shoulder views of fans dithering away on their phones while the band plays a few feet away.
For the "Stew Arts" series, 50 or so lucky Umphrey's fans send text messages that are relayed to the band on stage, with the band then crafting their setlists and improvisations in response to the fan direction. The "Stew Art" shows are followed by a meet and greet, where fans who just conducted the show can have a beer with the band members and discuss the music that the entire audience had a hand in creating.
In an increasingly evolving music industry, the grass-roots approach employed by the jambands for so long is now being recognized as a necessary ingredient to an artist's long term success. By directly engaging with fans over social media platforms and creating a memorable experience greater than a simple rock concert, Umphrey's is able to solidify the kind of relationship with their fanbase that ensures long-term fan loyalty.
Similarly to Umphrey's "Stew Art" series, The Disco Biscuits allow fans to submit suggested setlists on the band's Facebook page. The Biscuits solicited fan setlists for their upcoming Halloween show, and awarded the author of the chosen setlist with free plane tickets, concert tickets, and lodging in Charlottesville, Virgina for the Halloween event.
The next Umphrey's "Stew Art" event will take place on October 22, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.