Watch Jake Krolick's Jam on the River video HERE...
Words & Images by: Jake Krolick
Jam on the River :: 05.26 & 05.27 :: Penn's Landing :: Philadelphia, PA
Memorial Day weekend planted its flag firmly in Philadelphia. With the holiday weekend came a cleansing of the city. It was a virtual purging of those holiday beach-goers that left the remaining inhabitants to raise their freak flag for the long-standing tradition of Jam on the River. A classic Jam on the River line-up attracted thousands. When the nets were hauled in and our city saw its final catch, we had an exceptional horde of faces. From Lance Armstrong to Rocky look-alikes, Jam was on in a major way.
Bustle in Your Hedgerow :: JotR 2007
Bustle in Your Hedgerow
Bustle's instrumental take on Led Zeppelin is wonderfully unique in a way that conjures a wild imagination. After being wrongly introduced as "Hedgecrow," Scott Metzger, Marco Benevento and Dave Dreiwitz jumped through classics "The Ocean" and a rocking "Immigrant Song." Joe Russo had a fire in his pants, bouncing as he smashed the cymbals, but it wasn't his drumming that caught the crowd by surprise. We cheered as he busted out in song "Hey lady you got the love I need. Oh darling, darling, darling, walk a while with me." The righteous move launched Bustle in your Hedgerow into "Over the Hills and Far Away" and firmly established Russo as the thief who stole the show.
The Illadelph was made proud by the electronic dance quintet hailing from right down the street. Jesse and Luke Miller kept the energy level at a lofty peak throughout their utterly packed set at the Delaware River Amphitheater. The crowd went wild for "Spiritualize!" and a dance party cover of "Block Rockin' Beats." Lotus tacked this Chemical Brothers cover to the wall, blowing their first attempt in Pittsburgh out of the water. They threw in wiz-covered gem "Gonna Fly Now" and the theme from "Rocky," which was more amusing than musically interesting. The jam ended with an emaciated Rocky dancing on the stage much to the chagrin of the crowd.
Lotus :: JotR 2007
Cypress Hill was just plain crazy, yo. They played a mix of old and new classics including many off their first album - "I Wanna Get High," "Hits from the Bong" and on and on... Bongos kicked off each song before the DJ jumped in, which gave the familiar tunes a tribal feel. B-Real and Sen-Dog captured the Jam stage like boogie down pirates on a shock and awe campaign. B-Real seized the bongos multiple times, thwacking them with both hands and sticks. Sen-Dog never stopped dancing and heaved himself into the crowd repeatedly during "Rock Superstar." Midway into Cypress Hill's set, a police boat pulled up in time to receive this opportune line, "Cops come and try to snatch my crops. These pigs want to burn my house down." The virtual smacks to "The Man" continued as B-Real lit up a spliff and blazed on stage for about five minutes.
Cypress Hill :: JotR 2007
The Disco Biscuits
Saturday evening brought electricity to the air and a furious Disco Biscuits crowd out to the river. This is the fifth year in a row the Biscuits headlined Saturday night on the river, and boy-o-boy was it memorable. The Biscuits opened with "Sweating Bullets," a mere precursor to the chaos about to unfold. It started raining towards the end of the song and the crew scurried to cover everything in plastic as the band moved into "Save the Robots." During "Robots" the rain became torrential, and instead of running for cover the notorious Biscuits crowd went wild in the best of ways. The crew lowered the canopy above the band releasing buckets of rainwater onto the pit, inciting glorious, sopping mayhem. We watched Marc Brownstein towel off his bass and toss us an evil smile as the Biscuits kept trudging on with a concise "Munchkin Invasion." Pelting rain and possible electrocution brought the show skidding to a halt. I wouldn't trade those 30-minutes of Biscuits for anything, simply one of the best live moments I've witnessed in a long time.
The Disco Biscuits :: JotR 2007
The Brakes set the tone for Sunday with their airy romp through their inspired catalog, partially built from their back-to-back residencies at Philadelphia's Milk Boy Coffee and NYC's The Knitting Factory. They pulled out all the stops with a whopping cover of Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good." The flock of wah-wahs coming from Matt Kass's guitar set the stage as he, Zach Djanikian and Derek Feinberg moved comfortably together. The Maserati anthem was driven with a laidback air of southern grace that made you want to kick off your boots and sip sweet tea on the porch.
The Brakes :: JotR 2007
The Philly contingent continued the rambling mood by sending us down the richly paved road of their latest offering, We All Belong. Scott McMicken (guitar) and Toby Leaman (bass) dug out some grimy rock n' roll, shined it up and heaved it at us with a gusto that is distinctly Dr. Dog. A dapperly dressed older gentleman appeared in front of stage and promptly grabbed a young lady for a twirl. He proceeded to dance her and a string of her friends around in the most proper of fashions, with dips and curtseys to "My Old Ways" and "Keep A Friend." The pleasant scene told our legs, "Get up! You have no business sitting."
Dr. Dog :: JotR 2007
Dark Star Orchestra
I loved the Grateful Dead dearly, so I've never been able to truly let go and enjoy Dark Star Orchestra. However, there were some mighty fine moments during "Playing In the Band" > "St. Stephen" that conjured moments from the great Spectrum shows of the late '80s and early '90s. The vibe was insatiable as Lisa Mackey unleashed a poetic scream, bringing the band back into "Playing in the Band," that generated goose bumps across the audience. The original "Tour" man himself, Lance Armstrong, could be seen standing in front of the soundboard during DSO.
DSO :: JotR 2007
This band just doesn't have the punch it needs to be great. However, Bob Marley's songs still burn brightly in the minds and ears of all. Fan or not, the swanked out dance moves and skunky grooves coming from the stage hypnotized your body. The best thing about the current Wailers is Aston "Family Man" Barrett's scooped out bass blasts during "Them Belly Full," which carried any worries away with deep, hollow notes. Barrett held up three fingers signaling for everyone to follow him into "Three Little Birds." Rumor has it Bob Marley specifically instructed Barrett to continue performing with The Wailers. This incarnation is a nice way for fans to hear Bob Marley years after his death.
The Wailers :: JotR 2007
John Butler Trio
The Aussie band pulled into Philly on a biodiesel-powered bus, and the city was a little greener. John Butler's soft manner put everyone at peace as he conducted a rich trek through mostly new material off his Grand National album. The easy feel of the songs mingled with the growing blackness of clouds above, pushing the performance into exceptional boundaries. Musically, I'd call it the best of the weekend. The connection between John Butler, Shannon Birchall (bass) and Michael Barker (drums) on "Better Than" and "Something's Gotta Give" was a serious treat.
JBT :: JotR 2007
Sound Tribe Sector 9
It seemed inevitable that the STS9 show would be rained out as sinister clouds built through the day; but Hunter Brown and David Murphy snuck in a couple before the show was called. "Lo Swagga" and "Really Wut?" presented some noticeable and pleasing improv that pulled at the legs and sent the crowd into a rhythmic grind. It may have been short, but for several minutes it was remarkable to watch the band play to the natural light show over the river.
STS9 :: JotR 2007
The crowd was treated to hot sunny days but plagued by violent back-to-back evening storms that washed away the heat and, unfortunately, the headliners. Those drawn in primarily by these acts had their disappointment eased by a lush array of after shows. 2007 goes down as a marathon of weather and music. The heat pushed you to the limit and the wet weather tested your resolve. If you made it through both days I'm sure you found some solace in the rain's cooling effects. Otherwise, I am sure you cursed its ability to dampen spirits and cancel music.
JamBase | Philly
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