Saturday, April 13, 2013
Grape or Raspberry? (This post is about jamming.)
On the Nerdist podcast the other day, Divine Fits members talked about jam bands, a newer research interest of mine. In explaining why they didn't like jamming, the guys speculated why fans like repetitive improv, bringing up the drug culture as one explanation. Even allowing that many modern fans stick to alcohol or even stay completely straight during concerts, there is a party vibe at many jam band concerts. The band becomes a tapestry, a reason to gather rather than the focal point of all attention. Like club music, the primary goal of jamming is to inspire dancing, physical movement instead of complex emotional movement. There are different flavors of jamming, often associated with different bands. Some jams might focus more on collective consciousness, bringing everyone together into an awareness of each other and how we all interact. Other jams could be about inspiring creativity, or to make political statements. Length is directly related to the purpose. A thirty-minute jam will lose any connection to politically-minded lyrics of the head tune, and if the jam hasn't changed the groove, the hypnotic effect will wash away any conscious inspiration. But a short burst of jamming between verses of DMB's "Everybody Wake Up" can be social commentary, and a five-minute closing jam can send audiences home ready to create new worlds.