by Pat Moran
Formed as a Notre Dame campus band, brainy virtuosos of Umphrey's McGee draw from fractured Frank Zappa and jazz fusion maestros like guitarist Al Di Meola, instead of the Grateful Dead blues noodling favored by fellow jam-banders. UM has conformed to the jam-band stereotype with constant touring, a rabid fan base and an apparent disinterest in editing themselves - but that last point is in flux. On their most recent LP, Death by Stereo, UM streamlines its compositions to the point of resembling honest-to-goodness songs. Those songs get a cursory run-through onstage before UM gets to the main event - rhythmically complex, dynamic instrumental interplay. This points to a band struggling with musical schizophrenia. On disc, UM strives to be songsmiths, while live, the band tests its fans' patience with well-played frippery that may or may not end in an emotional pay-off. Openers Papadosio may be the real draw here. With a deft blend of pulsing electronica, gorgeous harmonies and prog improvisation that recalls the gauzy escapades of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, this Athens, Ohio, septet delivers a message of harmony and transcendence that avoids being flighty or wonky. $22.50. Jan. 24, 8 p.m. The Fillmore, 1000 N.C. Music Factory Blvd. 704-549-5555.