JAM…a simple three letter word that conjures so many different reactions in the world of music. Once upon a time, the notion of jamming was something to behold. If you went and saw Led Zeppelin play a 25 minute Moby Dick, or James Brown lay down a 15 minute Sex Machine fans across the board left in awe of what they just witnessed. Casual music fans, fanatics, and everyone in between in those times understood and embraced the idea that live performance could and should be more than just seeing a band play the tracks.
Now, lets fast forward 20 years or so to the 90’s when grunge, pop, and hip hop took the world by storm. Somehow, with all that amazing music coming out whether it was Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, WuTang Clan, or Ace of Base they all had one thing in common…Straight forward, high energy live performance. The notion that a band could go out on tour and experiment and discover new expressions of beloved songs seemed to get lost in the majority of acts performing live. A stigma developed against jamming, and the term “jamband” was a kiss of death.
In 2002 a little festival known as Bonnaroo came along, and all the amazing jambands of the time came together in one place and made a bold statement to the world of music as we knew it. The overwhelming success of the festival made one thing very clear. Jamming was alive and well, and the time for people to get to experience its power was upon us.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself; what’s with the history lesson? Well, if you haven’t been paying attention, things are changing in the world of Pretty Lights. What was once a high energy track slamming extravaganza has evolved into an exploratory, spontaneous journey into the heart and soul of the Pretty Lights Experience. I know we are all clamoring for new music from Derek, and we are getting it in the most unexpected way. The shows are filled with dark introspective moments built off of familiar songs, funky dance party groove extensions of fan favorites and all sorts of other twists and turns throughout the shows. For me, this has been the most exciting and thrilling time to be apart of Pretty Lights! Not only as the LD, but as a fan. Hearing Derek, and the rest of the guys go out and take chances, and for the first time really embrace the notion of jamming has been something I’ve wanted to hear since that first show I did back in 2009.
For those that have been paying attention, I’m sure you have realized that every show has been UNIQUE. Both audibly, and visually. What this new direction allows for me, is a total departure from any preconceived notion of what the show needs to look like. I’ve always approached any Pretty Lights show with a certain amount of freedom, but there has always been a foundation of continuity. Since those first shows in New Hampshire in August, all the rules have been thrown out the window. I cannot tell you how much fun this run has been, and it’s only gonna get better. And the best part about it…We don’t know what’s gonna happen next. That is for me, and I hope for you, the most special feeling when it comes to live music.
For a glimpse at what the Northwest Run looked like, enjoy the latest addition to the gallery. Props to Will Guy for capturing all the shows.