Why Do Jam Bands Have Such a Stigma?

Categories: Fiesta!

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The point is, there is still a very real stigma attached to jam bands, and much of the criticism directed at the scene isn't even relevant. Not in 2014. Archaic fashion doesn't dominate the scene these days any more than all jam bands are making music that amounts to uninspired, noodle-y wankathons. Psych-rock bands are steadily making their way onto the scene -- a scene that is already plenty steeped in psychedelia, by the way. Likewise, funk bands don't have a stigma on their own, and yet many jam bands that bring the funk hard are victims of it. So why the disconnect?

Hard to say, but refreshingly, it seems like the stigma is starting to fade, at least a bit, thanks to a group of artists who are breaking down the barriers, including Stephen Malkmus, whose new solo album nods to the scene, the National, which is coming out with a Grateful Dead tribute album full of indie-rock acts and Animal Collective, which samples the Dead.

Whatever the case, at the end of the day, it's up to the fans to embrace the term and look past the snickering. Maybe one day everyone will realize that they are making fun of something that is actually fun, cooperative and has the ability to melt your face off like few musical genres can.

This isn't just a scene trying to relive the glory days of the Grateful Dead; we all know that's in the past and things just can't work like that again. Rather, it's a vibrant scene of talented musicians, knowledgeable and passionate fans and an unmistakable freedom of self: Jam-band fans get lost in the music and actually seem to enjoy themselves.

And, really, what's to hate about that?

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