Jam on the River (Twiddle, The Werks, Lotus)- Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA 5/16/16 (FESTIVAL RECAP/PHOTOS)

It’s a rite of passage: one knows spring is upon us when birds are chirping, women are scantily clad, baseball is banging and Philadelphia hosts its annual musical soiree – Jam on the River. On May 16, 2015 Live Nation presented a full day of stellar music with ten bands playing on two stages on the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing.

There was ample vending, food and drink with limited lines. It was a full day of satiating music for the reasonable price of approximately $65. The weather cooperated and offered beaming sunlight for the most part and the newly million dollar-renovated venue served up amazing views of the water. It was unique to have a such a quick turnaround time between acts – with most sets under an hour – but perfect for that ADD person we all know. The bands all appeared legitimately excited to be part of the day and that spoke volumes as to the intensity of the live experience.

Papadosio showcased a lengthier show which included a random appearance by Dopapod’s bassist, Charles Jones, in his underwear, riding around on a scooter; Savoy randomly dropped some EDM; Dopapod delivered a delicious “Trapper Keeper”; Electron surprised with a jam fueled set that included a meticulous cover of “Comfortably Numb” showcasing Tom Hamilton and Flux Capacitor garnered new fans with a stunning performance on the small stage.

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Twiddle ::  1:30pm

Twiddle has been on fire of late. Their fan base has grown exponentially in the past year with legions of rabid fans being pulled in like a tractor beam by the smooth jams. Fans love to communicate on the Facebook page, I-Twiddle. The boys performed “The Thrill is Gone” the night before Jam on the River in a tribute to the late BB King and recently performed a stellar show at Rock and Roll Resort. They are even slated to open for String Cheese Incident this summer at Red Rocks. The momentum continued as they opened the Jam on the River festivities in grand style. With a strangely limiting 30+ minute set, they made the best of the four songs they shared. Twiddle is Brook Jordan (skins), Zdenek Gubb (low End), Ryan Dempsey (ivories) and Mihali Savoulidis (axe). The four piece is superbly talented but the genius of Mihali stands out as he continues to prove a master shredder. Wearing a top hat, it fell off mid-jam because he was playing so hard and laid on the ground for the rest of the performance. Gubb was not wearing his trademark teal striped ski hat. The highlight of the set was a rambunctious, “Earth Mama” which started the day of proper with the infectious “wa hoo ah hoo hoo hoo” chorus engaging the fervent Twiddle fans that arrived early and reminded us to hug our mom.  It was such a sparse crowd that it had the feel of a private show.“Polluted Beauty” closed things off with a reggae-tinged sound that showcased an intense guitar crescendo and Gubb adventuring up and down the scale in an incendiary frenzy.

Set List:  Earth Mama, Daydream Farmer, Amdyst the Myst, Polluted Beauty

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The Werks  ::  2:20pm

The quartet from Ohio has been a rising star on the scene. With an impressive tour schedule, the band inherently garners new fans from each stop it makes with its guitar-driven sound. They host a festival with a stacked line-up called The Werk Out later this summer. The band is Rob Chafin (drums), Dino Dimitrouleas (bass), Chris Houser (guitar) and Dan Shaw (keys) and played four songs that were each dynamic and accessible. Chafin shared professional vocals at times and Dino brought the bombastic back beat to the proceedings. The MVP belongs to Chris Houser who remains the most underrated guitarist in the scene; he is a sniper with fancy fingerwork and a mesmerizing tone. As the band grows, expect Houser’s talent to land him a with a household name that deserves respect.  The highlight was “Cruel Stone Blues” which was a funk-laden jam that showcased each player’s skills with various solos and fills permeating the session.  The Werks continue to rise and shouldn’t be long before they are headlining festivals themselves.  They are solid guys that you not only love to watch leave it all on stage – but would like to have a beer with after.

Set List:     Better than before,  Cruel stone blues, Fat man, For You

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Lotus  ::  9:00pm

Rain and lighting delayed the opening of Lotus’ set for 30 minutes at the ominous weather was a safety concern during this tenure. The crowd was reenergized once the band took the stage and played the first notes of “What Did I Do Wrong?” The headliners amassed a crowd unseen during the rest of the day with many fans obviously showing up just to see the musical magicians. Unlike their genre contemporaries, who they are consistently lumped in with, Lotus brings a more diverse and varied sound as evidenced in their extensive touring. Complete with a stellar light show experience and with a beat and melody that is unpredictable and a distinct, Lotus is jamtronica at its finest, a musical force known to pummel your senses and leave one gasping from air from the relentless euphoric grooves.

With an unpredictable pace and style, they share a unique sound with a slow build-up, that ultimately leads to a monumental crescendo that allows participants to bask in its afterglow. Rather than worry where the band is going, crowd members trust the band to lead the on a voyage to discover new heights and feeling.  Luke Miller (keys/guitar), Jesse Miller (bass), Mike Greenfield (drums), Chuck Morris (percussion) and Mike Rempel (guitar) have been satisfying audiences since their inception at Goshen College in Indiana in 1999. With an arsenal of song selections due to a hefty 11 album catalog, the band performs nearly 100 shows per calendar year; along with sleek synth grooves and a multi-layered depth of sound, the unique musings are an experience all their own and with no real band to adeptly compare them to. The highlight was the tasty rendition of their most known and popular ditty, “Spiritualize” which was a lengthy foray into the unknown. With Rempel playing perfect fills to the heavy groove, it provoked all in attendance to get down dirty. The addition of a brass section added a delicious depth of sound.  The players know each other tendencies so well that they effortlessly play off each other in a successful quest to push new boundaries as the song develops into a noodly and bass-driven frenzy. Lotus is one of the top players in the jamtronica scene and those in attendance saw a clinic as to why.

Set List:  What Did I Do Wrong?, Nematode, Middle Road *, Basin to Benin *,
Spiritualize, Behind Midwest Storefronts, Neon Tubes ->F For You^ ->Neon Tubes, Kodiak *, Opo *, 128, Sunset of the Giant Dipper, Shimmer & Out

*With Chris and Sam on Sax and Trumpet
^Debut, with “Fire” Teases

Photos by Scott Harris Photography


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One Response

  1. You totally failed to mention most of the bands that were there. Papadosio stole the f’n show and played right before Lotus, yet their only mention is that they played a “lengthier set”? Were you even there? Papadosio brought pure love and energy for their entire set. The entire crowd was feelin it, even folks that didn’t know about the dosio. They should have been a key part of this article, not the bands that played at friggin 1:30 and 2 in the afternoon… wtf?! (no offence twiddle)

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