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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32 comments
Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

no. i had to endure phish. i was praying for death.

Steve Scott
Steve Scott

Because they're boring I don't want to listen to a 20 minute two chord song.

Mike Goose Miller
Mike Goose Miller

I always thought "Jam Band" was the wrong term but I haven't come up with a better one

Willie Ryan Salomon
Willie Ryan Salomon

Good read. As a phish head I definitely appreciate this. Pretty well thought out and it does being up good points. I will say though, the reason is because people like me always inevitably put on some serious jam (preferably phish circa 93) and expect everyone to be as on board as we are. It's not that their hippies. They (me) are just annoying more times than not.

Brewneaux Welldone
Brewneaux Welldone

You see it as what it is on paper. That's why you don't get it. Got to feel it.

Mike Vestal
Mike Vestal

I think most of you are upset that your favorite musician got a DUI last night...

Jesda Ulati
Jesda Ulati

Because no one pays to see that kind of self-indulgent shit.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

lmao. a I - IV - V chord progression over and over with some 8th note noodling is not over anyone's head.

Nick Fareel
Nick Fareel

Its just a dying genre. I mean, even you guys said Reelfoot was the best local jam band of 2013 and they are from Columbia and didn't even play a show in 2013. Not trying to call you out, just saying its dying.

Jen Moore
Jen Moore

There are plenty who get it right without going off the deep end. Frank Zappa is a perfect example. Experimental without self indulgence.

Rafael Gonzalez
Rafael Gonzalez

Apparently Tony Parente your a tool not all fans are like that. Your statement could go with any genre of music. ICP fans close to jamband fans I don't think so. Think before you speak .

Jen Moore
Jen Moore

Who wants to hear a 20 min drum solo? Nobody, that's who

Earl Kliethermes
Earl Kliethermes

Some is attention span and being axxustomed to concise musical statements. Then there are the lengthy sucking sections.

Amy Petty
Amy Petty

Because most people don't have an attention span longer than 2.5 minutes.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

it's not the bands... it's the people that go to see those bands.

Tony Bologna
Tony Bologna

It's not the bands, its their stoner - loser - welfare ridden fans. Kind of like ICP.

Abby Moallankamp
Abby Moallankamp

Because people like what is popular, what they have heard before. When they go to a show, they want to be able to sing along, which requires the band to deviate minimally from the recorded version of the song. I can still remember seeing Tom Petty years ago... The band did a number of encores at the end of the set, then finished off with an amazing rendition of "Gloria." All the people who had been going crazy dancing suddenly stopped and gaped with empty faces as the band went into a totally awesome jam of the song, which really showcased their talents as musicians. All the momentum they had been building the whole show slowed down quite a bit when they began "Gloria," because few people could slosh their beers while screaming the lyrics.

Kim Hayes
Kim Hayes

For me, it's that songs just don't end. A 3 minute song that sucks is tolerable because it's over quickly but when a song I can't stand is still going strong 25 minutes later, it's just too much.

Jeep Naaked
Jeep Naaked

cause most don't realize how good of musicians they are and haven't' found "their" jam band. Wide Spread Panic is awesome I think..

Jen Moore
Jen Moore

Because most of them suck. Only a few decent ones out there

Shawn Telkamp
Shawn Telkamp

Zzzzzzz...I'm sorry...I fell asleep just thinking about it. ;-) lol jk

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