Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rant: Jam Bands Suck

Time for another edition of Arguing About Musical Opinions: The Most Pointless Discussion Humans Can Possibly Have. Are you as excited as I am? Let's get started.

As you can see to the left, Dan Bardin is a moron.

On a day much like today roughly two years ago, I realized jam bands are brutal. I forget what song I was listening to, so let's just say it was one of the hundreds of versions of "Watchtower" DMB has played over the years.

I'm knocking DMB early on in this rant, so let me clarify by restating that all jam bands suck. Who's your favorite jam band ever? I'll go out on a limb and say it's either DMB, The Grateful Dead or Phish. My personal favorite jam band (and one of my favorite bands ever) would be Gov't Mule. And guess what: if any song by any of these groups hits my iPod and exceeds the 10 minute mark, it's getting skipped. Even Mule. I don't have that kind of time. I buy my books in a matter of seconds, I skip TV commercials and my movies are mailed to me. I've completely run out of patience when it comes to these interminable songs. Because here's the deal, and I'm gonna boldface this point for emphasis:

Jam Bands are consistently lauded for their improvisation skills, when in reality everyone playing is too stoned to realize a song should have ended 6 minutes ago.

This is why studio versions of songs are generally a more manageable 4 to 5 minutes. The band members are much less likely to be tripping balls in the studio, and even if they are, they'll have a producer in their ear telling them to wrap it up because nobody wants to listen to 5 extra minutes of "improv."

And therein lies a key component to digging the jam bands, particularly at live shows. You'd best be in some kind of altered state.

I've been to numerous DMB shows, and every time I hear a killer 20 minute version of "Too Much" and I'm ready to off myself, but before I do I look around, and EVERYONE IS ENJOYING THEMSELVES. For a while, I wondered what was wrong with me. Am I a hipster? Are my tastes not as diverse as I thought they were? Turns out all the people grooving to another endless DMB jam were simply higher than Brittany Murphy.

And to those of you telling me I forgot booze: I didn't forget booze. Being trashed at a concert is the worst. You're in the bathroom a majority of the time, and when you're actually hanging out listening to music, it's impossible to comprehend.

Back to Dan Bardin. He's a moron, yes. But I can't fault him. I know him better than most people on the planet, and I know that he learned guitar thanks to DMB songs way back in his early teens. That's some powerful nostalgia that's impossible to argue away. This is why he agreed with me that all jam bands suck...except for Dave. It's completely hypocritical and also completely understandable. Nostalgia has power. It's why I think Homeward Bound is a dynamite movie, when it fact it most likely bites the big one.

But for the rest of you idiots, you have no excuse. Once again, and hopefully the third time is the charm: JAM BANDS SUCK. In the time it took you to listen to Dark Star, you could have heard four Black Keys tunes. Increase your musical efficiency, grow up, and above all, stop thinking you have to get high to enjoy music. You don't. The music just has to be good.


  1. I was going to flip out....until I got to the end of the blog.

    What you said is 100% correct. My opinions are completely hypocritical...and I'm fine with it. I less than three DMB. I have a complete soft-spot for Dave and the band's music. My playing still has DMB technique peppered in that I'll never shake.

    I also am a moron. I'm going to press the like button for this post.

    But, I still hope you choke on a dick.

  2. Also, Luke is right about being drunk at a concert. Nobody wants to be by the guy who's yelling partially slurred, partially wrong lyrics, dancing in spastic circles and throwing up in the grass. I enjoy going to alpline valley and pushing that guy down the hillside.

  3. "The worst blog post you'll ever read."

    Love the 37 min #41 and the 126 min "Two Step". Get the eff off your high horse turd ball. Just because your taste in music is changing a bit - kind of like hitting puberty only w/o the bad acne and voice cracking - doesn't mean you have to start HATING.

    BTW - for the two of you that are actually reading this - I just discovered Amos Lee, check out "Keep it Loose, Keep it Tight." He sings "Sweet Pea" which is one you've probably already heard

  4. 126 minutes of Two Step?? Gahhhhhh that's horrendous. Have you actually listened to the whole thing in one sitting?

  5. The one "Jam" that annoys the H-E-Double Hockey Sicks out of me is Dave and Tim in Vegas - Lie in our Graves (Live at Radio City). Tims solo is not your typical Tim Reynolds solo. He plays the same damn note from 3:09 to 4:57 - then "kind of" switches it up after that. Thats almost 2 full minutes of the same note - by far the worst Tim solo ever.
    Luke - you will laugh at this b/c it is so ridiculous.


  6. Quick edit - Dave and Tim at Radio City in New York....not sure where Vegas came from.

  7. WOW. Just watched that Radio City solo, and that was awful. It's like Reynolds listened to that old Tenacious D album and decided the one note song was an awesome idea.

    I have two favorite parts. The first is Dave swinging his head in circles because he's stoned out of his mind and the rapid movement feels cool. The second is the idiot crowd, which actually gets louder as the solo progresses. You're listening to garbage, morons. Sit down and shut up until he decides to play a new note.

  8. lulz dis powst iz da behst eva. srsly iz sew trew. dee em bee iz sew 2000. hoo smoaks lyk dat enymoar. sew gai. o hai girl haiiiiiiiii lulz kbai.

  9. DMB is a terrible band in general and any good musician incorporate improve into their shows or extended cuts the black keys do it all the time. who wants to hear or especially play the same song the same way over and over again. improve might not be the best sometimes but its the musicians pushing themselves. id rather go to a show not knowing what is going to happen and be surprised than pay to here the same shit i could hear on record. you're choice of band to criticize was smart cause DMB sucks and is more pop shit than anything. you used them to make a massive assumption about a topic you really know nothing about. Please don't be a dumb ass any more we have enough of those anyway.

  10. I am a musician, and the daughter of a world reknowned jazz musician. Improvisation is hard, and not everyone can do it, although many try and fail. Good improvisation is what jam bands aspire to be all about. I learned *really early* that one repetition, two repetitions, three is the MOST repetitions one should ever play. Any more than that and you are simply demonstrating your lack of creativity and you're just plain boring. That DMB clip posted above is one of the most glaring examples of audience stupidity ever. Don't they realize that most of them could play the exact same thing? ONE NOTE does not an instrumental solo make. Truly awful.