Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Jam Bands




The perplexing world of the Jam Band Universe has become even more confusing to me.  Although I have felt a rather loose grip on this secret society in the past, I realize now that I have no idea what constitutes the Jam Band Universe.  It was once gospel that all bands that hoped to consider tapping into the live music gold mine of summer festivals and college campuses must have some sort of direct line to the Grateful Dead.  The Dead was always the top of the flow chart where all bands that wanted to noodle around on solo sections lasting 17 minutes must pay homage.  That country rock with the twinkle in the eye had always been the jump off point.  What the hell happened?  Where did the Cosmic Cowboy of yesteryear go?   

Allow me to explain… 

A friend of mine came over to my place this weekend that drags his eight and five year old boys to hippie festivals all around the East Coast.  While we can debate the point about calling social services about his clear parental irresponsibility exposing the kids to drugs and topless hippie chicks, this guy is somewhat in touch with this scene.  He is one of those white collar suburban guys that listens to Sirius Radio “Jam On” 24/7, and has somehow been programmed not to find bands like Umphrey’s McGee, String Cheese Incident, and Disco Biscuits utterly reprehensible.  I don’t know how something like this happens, but I assume it has something to do with a lack of parental direction at key times in his own life.   

Let’s say that this guy goes to five of these multi day/camping/magical hippies-in-the-woods events every year.  He’s on board.  Here’s the weird thing.  He can’t ever tell me who he saw.  He doesn’t remember.  I find it odd that he is excited enough to travel to these shows, yet retains absolutely no memory whatsoever of who performed at the event.  He literally cannot tell me more than two bands at a 73 band festival, and I would like to stress that he is not smoking weed.  I think it is because every band sounds almost exactly the same, and he just likes the idea of camping with his kids in the midst of something fun he used to do.  Now he is an observer, and probably not much different than a bird watcher, with the exception of a well-stocked cooler of microbrew and dudes named Electric Dave walking around selling acid. 

I don’t know where the joy is in attending shows where you cannot recall any of the performers or performances.  It’s not my thing hanging out with 20 year olds that think they may have been the first ones that have ever discovered pot.  While the multitudes of stylishly unwashed upper middle class college students arrive in their import sport utility vehicles, poorly cut sundresses, and ripped cargo shorts, I think we can agree that the drug intake is probably a bigger deal than Moe’s set list.  It’s a party, and as long as you can ignore the fact that most of the music isn’t actually doing anything, there’s a good time to be had in the mud.  It’s just not my good time. I don’t want to shit in either 1) the woods or 2) a port-o-john. 

It was on Sunday while I was being driven to an ill-conceived breakfast at an iHop with his children that I heard some of these shitty rap influenced jam bands on his radio.  When did this happen?  This crossover between rap and jam bands is very odd to me.  Rap fan and hippie fan are like hyena and seal.  It’s just two things that shouldn’t go together.  Peanuts and bubblegum.  Asparagus and peppermint.  Table saws and nitrous oxide.  These are things that have their place in the wild, but never should cross pollinate.  Groovy hippie dancing is one thing, but then if the downbeat gets too crazy and arms start flying around?  Look, it’s just too much…  I hate it. 

When the jam band universe is derivative of American roots music, I can deal with it.  The Grateful Dead’s “American Beauty” and “Workingman’s Dead” are just really good country records.  That’s the stuff.  So the Allman Brothers want to play “Whipping Post” for 28 minutes?  OK.  At least 16 minutes of that is going to be really good.  However this new “wacky hippie” situation where the pointless noodling around is tied together with nonsense lyrics and flimsy pretense? The repeated rituals where everyone yells out snippets of lyric...  “Hey man, we were in Chicago, and they totally played that song where they mention Chicago in it.  Far fucking out!”  Then on top of that you are going to have a DJ?  I’d rather watch a guy in a beret play a six string bass before I see white college kids in dreadlocks dance in the mud to hippie hip hop.  I think the whole thing is a crime against nature and must be stopped. 

I realize that this lack of understanding is clearly a generational gap.  I understand that I would probably like some of these bands if I was willing to go camping in the mud and load up on hallucinogens.  This is the crux of the issue.  I am not willing to camp in the mud, much less with a head ready to explode on acid slipped to me from Cosmic Larry in a jello-shot.  That train has left the station.  I always have enough on my mind now anyway, much less having to worry about what some stupid String Cheese Incident lyric means.  If I was twenty and worried about what dorm I was living in next year, I’m in.  You think I need to listen to never resolving jams standing in a field of daisies with a skull full of bad vibes?  No way.

I don’t think I can save my friend.  Maybe I can save his kids.  They need a trip to the Muddy Roots Festival or Heavy Rebel.  Fast.

 

    

2 Comments:

At July 14, 2013 at 10:12:00 PM EDT , Blogger scungilli said...

This was very well written, and much in line with how I feel about the bunch of Sheeple who think they're cool following the horrible jam band progression of Grateful Dead> to Phish> to Dave Matthews & so on. A whole (or should I say A-hole) lotta frat boy wanna be hippie poseurs attending these shows. As a musician who crafts songs, these bands remind me of rehearsals where everyone was warming up to different leads/parts of a song, and they just wouldn't stop!! GUYS!!! STOP!! Shut the fuck up and lets rehearse the songs!!! ;-D

 
At July 14, 2013 at 10:14:00 PM EDT , Blogger scungilli said...

This was very well written, and much in line with how I feel about the bunch of Sheeple who think they're cool following the horrible jam band progression of Grateful Dead> to Phish> to Dave Matthews & so on. A whole (or should I say A-hole) lotta frat boy wanna be hippie poseurs attending these shows. As a musician who crafts songs, these bands remind me of rehearsals where everyone was warming up to different leads/parts of a song, and they just wouldn't stop!! GUYS!!! STOP!! Shut the fuck up and lets rehearse the songs!!! ;-D

 

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