We recently took a look at the renaissance that the jam scene has been experiencing of late. With many of the elder statesmen in the scene such as Phish, Dead & Company, moe., The String Cheese Incident, The Disco Biscuits, Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic and more playing at consistently high levels night in and night out, we wanted to dig a little deeper to see which of the young up and comers are poised to one day take a seat at the round table with their jam forefathers.
With bands such as TAUK, Twiddle, Dopapod, and The Werks having already eclipsed that “Up and Coming” plateau, we decided to take a look at five current acts who are ready to take it to the next level. Get your radars ready.
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
Over the past couple years, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has seen a steady ascent to one of the most sought after young acts on the scene. The band has become a staple on the summer festival circuit, and over the past 12 months the band’s rapid growth has seen them sell out prestigious venues like Washington DC’s 9:30 Club, Boulder’s Fox Theatre, and Manhattan’s Gramercy Theatre. Their high-energy electro-funk and contagious performances have garnered a dedicated following of fans who appropriately call themselves “The Flock.” The band will hit the road in early October for a co-headlining tour with Dopapod, and tickets and details can be found on the band’s website.
Each May, “Scrambled” Greg (Guitar/Vocals), Jeremy Schon (Guitar/Vocals), Ben Carrey (Bass/Vocals), and Alex Petropulos (Drums/Electronics) host their own festival, Domefest, in Southern Pennsylvania. The flock-centric event sees Pigeons headlining each night with some of the bands they’ve played alongside throughout the year filling out the lineup. Here is a video of the fan favorite “Horizon” from Domefest this past May:
Buffalo-based quartet Aqueous continues to display an expert ability in conjuring up meticulously crafted, well-composed arrangements with soulful lyrics and a dynamic musical range. They do this while maintaining their signature dual-rock guitar onslaught, anthemic choruses, psychedelic synth lines, and a tight, punchy, and always grooving rhythm section that fans consistently rave about.
Mike Gantzer (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Loss (Guitar/Keys/Vocals), Evan McPhaden (Bass), and Rob Houk (Drums) are coalescing into one finely tuned unit. Best In Show lives up to its namesake; each track on the four-song EP features a diverse and powerful side of the band’s ever-evolving, emotionally evoking sound. These are some seriously prime, grade A, choice cuts here. For additional info, check Aqueous’ official website.
Spafford is a 4-piece funk rock band, hailing from Arizona. Made up of Brian Moss (Guitar), Jordan Fairless ( Bass), Red Johnson (Keys), and Nick Tkachyk (Drums), the band needs to be heard to be understood. The core of Spafford’s identity is their special ability to improvise. Jams typically extend way past their normal structure, as the band reaches for unique and different sounds every time they play. Their live performances are filled with non-stop musical adventures rooted in high energy and deep listening by all four members. Building these explorations one piece at a time, Spafford helps take the listeners on a ride that typically ends right in the pocket of a deep groove with a blistering peak.
While the band has built a grass roots following in the Southwest, they are looking to bring their special brand of ‘ElectroFunkTherapy’ to audiences across the country. With an upcoming Fall Tour to the Midwest, the band is entering the next phase of their ascent in the jam scene. Get all the info here.
The Magic Beans
The Magic Beans have been making big waves in their home state of Colorado for some time now, with their unique genre-blending sound and exciting shows. Since starting to tour just couple of years ago, they’ve caught the eyes and ears of many music lovers nationwide. Their annual Beanstalk Festival is also becoming quite the destination for the scene, growing in size and talent with each passing years. At the core of it all, Beans’ shows are a dance party, with an emphasis on original songwriting and extended segments of improvisation.
Scott Hachey (Guitars/Vocals), Chris Duffy (Bass/Vocals), Casey Russell (Keys/Vocals), and Jason Kincaid (Drums) creatively invoke hints of your favorite live acts while managing to come across with a sound that is distinctly their own. The band’s stage chemistry is infectious and very inclusive of the audience, resulting in a close-knit fanbase around the group dubbed, “Team Bean“. Having just signed with Madison House, you can expect big moves coming from the Beans soon. Make sure to check these guys out when they come through your town. Check out more info/tour dates for the Beans here.
Chicago-based jam outfit Mungion has been turning heads since bursting onto the scene in the spring of last year. With excitement building from their exploratory live outings, Mungion’s steadily growing fan base received the band’s first full-length studio offering, Scary Blankets, which received rave reviews from both fans and media outlets. (Read our review here). The inspiration of their jam scene peers is evident throughout. “Schvingo” and “Hindsight,” built from catchy, strolling bass lines and prog-guitar wailing, both deliver handily, displaying the influences of well-loved acts on the band (and clear influences on the members of Mungion) from Pat Metheny to Frank Zappa to Jimmy Herring and beyond.
With every passing show, the quartet, consisting of Justin Reckamp (Guitar/Vocals), Joe Re (Keys/Vocals), Sean Carolan (Bass/Vocals), and Matt Kellen (Drums/Vocals) is honing their unique progressive sound. When you see their live show, it’s very evident that there’s a clear intention to create a set of music that is rich, varied and immersive — not just a collection of tunes, but a cohesive, complex sonic story that keeps people on their toes dancing. Mungion has just began to scratch the surface. They have a new album set for release in early 2017 and will be arriving in a city near you very soon, including a support gig for Moe. in Chicago on Sept. 24th (more info at the band’s official website).
Of course, this is by no means a definitive list! Who are your favorite up and comers? Be sure to let us know so we can feature them, too.