Thursday, March 30, 2006

Jam in the Dam Review

The Jam in the Dam festival can only be described in one word: Amsterdamaged (thanks Barber). Or maybe Awesomedam? Amsterdawesome? Yeah we'll stick with Amsterdamaged. The concerts were held in the "legendary" Melkweg which is Dutch for Milky Way. Useful information if you're ever on a Dutch spaceship. They claim it used to be a dairy but it was definitely a gut reno cause there weren't any cow stalls or anything, although there was a lot of grass. Apologies for rambling but...

The Melkweg is a great venue, the sound in the Max Hall is phenomenal and it has great sightlines due to it's balcony and stepped areas surrounding the floor. The bars were reasonable at 4 Euro for a sloppily poured Heineken (=$5 but includes tip). No lines at the bars- just step right up. There was a huge cafe between the two rooms that was a great place to chill between sets; they sold pastries and food plus a full bar. The bathrooms were small but clean with almost no lines each time but they had the really-popular-in-Holland cloth paper towel (yuck!). I'll shake 'em dry thank you very much. The venue was smoky (surprise surprise) but a comfortable temperature. There was no security, it was a total free-for-all, as you would expect. One great thing they do there is have people walking around picking up discarded cups and garbage during the set.

Our priority list for the Jam in the Dam was Disco Biscuits, Benevento Russo Duo, Umphrey's McGee, and then STS9. It was interesting that Disco Biscuits, Umphrey's and Sound Tribe all had their own groups of fans come over, so the crowd was very spread out and nothing was ever too crowded. The Biscuits opened the festival with a really hot set. It started off pretty high energy but really peaked towards the end with the I Remember When, Home Again, Ladies. The Home Again was exceptionally good- love that song. After 2 hours of tDB we swung over to the smaller room to catch the last hour of The Duo. At one point Marco Benevento was chanting for Brian Haas to come onstage, Joe Russo recorded that on his sampler, and then played it back mid-jam 10 minutes later when Haas actually joined them- really cool. Duo ended and we took a break in the cafe for 1 hour while STS9 played in the big room. We stayed for the first hour of Umphrey McGee's 2 hour set. The beginning of the set was typical UM- hard rocking prog rock jamming. Marco and Joe came out to join them and the jam turned more Phishyjam than Rush. After the Duo sit-in they played a bunch of slower stuff, we got bored, were tired, and left before the crowd from the just ending STS9 show filtered in. Wish I could have heard Morning Song though.

The second night opened with UM in the big room. For whatever reason we just didn't feel the energy from them. I'm not sure if it's because they always step it up when they play NYC and that's the only place I've seen them but we were not impressed by this set. At least not by the 1st hour, since we left to catch the start of the Duo's set (higher on the priority list!). This set was awesome. Their playing was very loose yet on point if that makes any sense. It was very intimate- maybe 50-100 people at the start of the set, lots of interaction with the audience between songs. Marco is hilarious- "let's play that song we wrote while we were spooning". This set had a ton of guests including Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte. Despite what Live Music Blog says (click for video, judge for yourself), the guest segments were beyond awesome- they were amsterawesome. Yes there was a lot going on onstage but it was interesting, danceable, and fairly cohesive. After Duo's 2hr set we went over to the big room for the Disco Biscuits. The set was pretty good..the Dribble was ok, really liked the Caterpillar>Cyclone>Caterpillar. Glad they played Morph as this was the show most likely to actually have someone in attendance named Morph from Dusseldorf. We left after tDB, did not stay for the last hour of STS9's set in the other room.

The final night began with The Duo playing to a surprisingly empty big room. They played a bunch of new songs and covers and most were impressive. This set featured Aron Magner on banana and Joe Russo downing half a bottle of Maker's Mark in a 2 hour set. Excellent set.

Exhausted we rested in the cafe during the 2 hour break before tDB started. We did pop in to catch about 30 minutes of UM but again it was generic and boring and we left to get a spot in the smaller room for the Biscuits. This night was way more older style techno Biscuits than the previous 2 rock oriented nights. Spaga was great. Strawberry Girl was not as good as the NJ one but my wife was supa pumped to add in her background vocals (which the song needs badly). The highlight of the night was Story of the World->42->Story. Pure Marc Brownstein dub rock house style bootyshaking action on the bass. Super high energy, great way to end the festival.

Overall it was a great time. It was completely exhausting yet exhilarating to experience all Amsterdam has to offer during the day (museums/canals/food/other) and then dance for 4-5 hours every night and still manage to not see STS9 once. But totally worth it. Amsterdamaged.

category: music_