Words & Images by Jake Krolick
Jam on the River 2006 :: 05.27 & 05.28 :: Penn's Landing :: Philadelphia, PA
Jam on the River has become a mainstay of Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia, an annual summer outing where many folks on the East Coast choose to welcome in the summer. Recently the Jam endured a shift of management. In the past, it was managed by the City of Philadelphia; however, this year it was taken over by music giants Electric Factory Concerts (cough, Clear Channel, cough.) The take-over came in a swift two-year power shift. Low and behold, it was done fairly well as far as the music is concerned. Unfortunately, the charm it used to have with Alligator-on-a-stick, sweet potato fries, and modest sponsors is gone. Thanks to Geoff Gordon's solid choices in booking, this year's Jam was spread thick with good music.
Jam on the River 2006
As a seasoned veteran of the JOTR festival and one who remembers the way they were, I wanted to do something a bit different. In honor of another Memorial Day weekend of music, here are my Top Ten Reasons You Knew You Were at Jam on the River 2006.
#10 - Party with the Captain
This year's Jam was truly a diverse pull, falling short on charm and heavy on quality music. The chunks of sound were linked together by the most annoying man in the world, a loud raving Captain Morgan! The captain stood on stage between sets and tossed out his pirated booty consisting of some free swag plastered with his logo and slogans. He's the captain you actually have to party with once every year. Not many leave the riverfront bragging that they "partied with the Captain."
#9 – Beach Balls Are Flying
Benevento/Russo Duo were easily the most laid-back musicians for Jam on the River 2006. Drummer Joe Russo hung around taking in the music both days and could easily be spotted enjoying most sets. The Duo's short set was opened with a massive beach ball war as the crowd sent 50-100 promotional giveaways flying through the air. "Best Reason to Buy the Sun" stood out as the Duo did what they do best and pounded us with a wall of sound. It was great to catch them early this summer before they transform into a larger presence with Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio.
#8 - You Must Be This Messed Up to Enjoy the Ride
Geoff Gordon has booked Jam on the River for the last few years and done a decent job. However, one should bat a serious eyelash when Railroad Earth is placed between the Secret Machines and Ween. The tempo of Sunday's show was questionable, and when I spoke with Geoff about why, he had this to say, "I really like the audience to feel like they are on a roller coaster at the event." Thanks Geoff; perhaps next time you could add signs around the festival stating, "You must be this messed up to enjoy the ride."
#7 – Full Black Body Suit
The first thing many noticed about the Secret Machines was Ben Curtis's full black body suit in 90 degree temperatures. It made no difference to him as he thrashed on his guitar. His gyrations matched the way his brother Brandon ached and leaned on his keyboards as he played bass. Josh Garza's monotonous current of percussive fury finally clicked in the crowd as the Secret Machines pounded through a nasty set including an incredible "First Wave Intact." Their heavier sound was a welcome change to the laid-back music earlier in the day.
#6 – The Disco Biscuits JOTR Pseudo-Ambassadors
Disco Biscuits have headlined Saturday's Jam for the last three years, earning the band the title of pseudo-ambassadors of the festival. This year was no different as the Biscuits gnawed through another banner Saturday evening, the highlight being a meaty "Caterpillar" sandwiched around "Run Like Hell" > "Great Abyss." This year, instead of the obligatory one-night stand, TDB tossed in a second show. Sunday evening's wicked after-show at the Electric Factory was some of the best Allen Aucion to date. His thrashing of "42" brought the house down. Toss in the encored "Pinball Wizard" with Scott Metzger and step back folks - the shit had hit the fan.
The Disco Biscuits
#5 - Leap of Grace
It would seem that by the end of the summer, a thoroughly captivating Grace Potter, will have a few more followers. She was in high spirits as always as she kicked off her summer at Jam on the River. Her set was highlighted by her new rising rock anthem to the touring life entitled "Stop the Bus." The tune built with Scott Tournet's soaring guitar and Matt Burr vigilantly keeping pace. The song was capped by Grace climbing up on Matt's drum kit to shake her new haircut and eventually leap off the kit Pete Townshend-style.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
#4 - Funk That
The guys in The Blue Method need some hefty props! After their 2004 debut Kill The Music: Volume 1, the band won the 2005 Relix JamOff and were named the "Best New Home Grown Band of 2005." Saturday's show was led by massive frontman Brian Williams, a singer who has a triple-threat arsenal of voice, trumpet, and trombone. Brian carried a spirit that could have brought the city to their feet. They played to a 1500-person crowd and knocked out some serious funk. Songs like their newly recorded "The Bounce" brought one of the liveliest early shows at Jam on the River to date.
The Blue Method
#3 - A Brown Sound and a Jackass
Synaesthesia is when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. Saturday evening the only color produced at Penn's Landing was brown. If Ween's "Ocean Man" started the flow, it was rocketed skyward with a tremendous "Johnny on the Spot," a "Tender Situation" with some insane vocal effects, and a very fitting "Freedom of '76," in which Gene finished on his back covered by a towel from his brother. The evening was so perfect that the jackass who climbed onstage to pronounce his dislike of Ween and the Disco Biscuits got pegged squarely in the family jewels by a flying bottle. Gener rightfully called him out mocking that he was A.D. Amorosi, a music critic from The Philadelphia Inquirer - the same swift critic that referred to the 12-band JOTR as a northern version of Bonnaroo.
#2 - Deal's Not Done
The New Deal from Toronto can throw a party like no other. For the second year in a row, they broke the crowd thoroughly in before the Biscuits took the stage. Keyboardist Jamie Shields held down some insanely tight linkups with bassist Dan Kurtz and drummer Darren Shearer. It wasn't enough for The New Deal to shock and awe the day crowd, so they decided to continue the party well into the wee hours of the night. "Hot" was an understatement in South Street's Club 218 as those brave enough to push on 'til morning were treated to the band up close and personal. The tiny venue shook as walls of live electronica covered the band and crowd in dripping sweat.
The New Deal
#1 - James Brown Send Offs
Ween, Ween, Ween. They could easily have been a part of all "Top Ten Reasons You Knew You Were at JOTR 2006." Their home-turf show was bliss in a Boognish kind of way. They're not on the top of my Family-Friendly Live Show list, but those thoughts were scrapped when Gene "Aaron Freeman" Ween brought his daughter Anna on stage to sing. The moment was sweet and tender as the crowd cheered Gener's young daughter, who could only hide behind the mic, her glasses, and the opening words of "Ocean Man." At the end of her performance, Claude came from behind his drum kit and gave her a James Brown-style send-off by draping a towel around her shoulders.
Ween & Family
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