Jam In The Dam 2012 Diary: Day Two

Another journal entry from European jam fan Josh Bogen in Amsterdam…

Jam In The Dam 2012: moe., Mike Gordon, Lotus, Keller Williams and Dark Star Orchestra

Thursday, March 15

Our omen for the day was served with at breakfast, in the form of a “LOTUS” inscribed biscuit to accompany coffee, or maybe it was just a coincidence. The weather had improved and I was finally able to take out my shades, for a perfect day to see more of the city.

[All Photos by Jon Derow]

One should realize that Jam In The Dam is not Phish at Merriweather with the band’s fans taking over the city. Amsterdam is a major city and the festival is small. Add to that the fact that Amsterdam has more than its share of resident bohemians and backpack slinging tourists, as well as lower temperatures which keep the tie-dyes covered up by jackets, and it’s hard to even notice that we are here. It’s also possible that with the shows ending around 2 am, people are just barely managing to get up in time for the next night’s festivities. However, when you do arrive at the Milky Way, you are met by an unmistakable jam band crowd, tie-dyes bared and more than few over the top outfits.

Entrance has been smooth into the venue, so it’s really just a lot of old and new friends hanging out in the vicinity. Today, however, the line stretched out into the street an hour before the start time, as cardboard tube-wielding fans waited to get their official posters signed by their favorite artists. This is one of the perks, I guess, of an intimate destination festival like Jam In The Dam (try that at Bonnaroo; the line would stretch to the next state). All of DSO and moe. were on hand, as well as Keller. Lotus was still busy with soundcheck, and Mike Gordon’s crew didn’t seem to have made it.(In their defense, they did have the latest start time of the night and I am sure most of the festival-goers can sympathize that getting anywhere on time here is a struggle after a late night out.)

Day two started out with Keller and Lotus switching slots, as Keller Williams took his one man show into the big hall. The place was pretty full from the beginning, although I think his show is more suited to the intimacy of the small hall. No question in my mind that the highlight of his set was Doobie In My Pocket, the amusing yet cautionary tale of standing in line at the airport and wondering if he had packed into his suitcase a shirt with a doobie in the pocket. This was immediately followed by the reggae beat of Positive Irie, so I think that advice may have been forgotten pretty quickly, as relevant as it may be for some festival-goers.

We then wandered over to catch some Lotus vibes before moe. came on. The place was packed with fans who obviously liked what they heard at yesterday’s opener. In the smaller room they seemed to have tacked from post-rock into a more club-oriented set. The heavy beat and synth planted them firmly in the dance genre, but at the same time, the soaring guitar lines and percussion pulled them out into something else. I’m still trying to figure them out, they sounded great just, I’m just not sure what they were playing. I suppose there is only so much new music an unrepentant Deadhead can assimilate.

Moe. once again played a set which was firing on all cylinders from the beginning. As they came out, they were a little disconcerted to discover that the stage setup had been reversed, I assume to accommodate the night’s headliner Mike Gordon, and prompting bassist Rob Derhak to “welcome Jim to the left side of the stage.” St. Augustine as an opener was fantastic, followed by a powerful three-song sequence that ended with the marimba-driven and Latin-tinged Puebla, off their latest album. This was the second tune pulled off the new release, and they only played one more later, Downward Facing Dog. If the opening night was marked by Al Schnier’s raging guitar solos, tonight the car keys were handed over to Chuck Garvey, who was clearly in the driver’s seat, starting off with some brutal slide work and unleashing all the energy left over from the previous night.

The big surprise of the evening came when Keller Williams joined them for Up On Cripple Creek (the second song from The Band’s repertoire to make an appearance at the festival so far). I would like to tell you how awesome their version was, as this is one of those “don’t miss” festival moments, however, I missed it. We left during She to go check out DSO next door, the true workhorses of this festival as they are playing three and a half hour shows every night. I guess this is one of the pitfalls of festival going, it’s just impossible to see everything. I will note that if I had stuck to my original game plan I would have seen it, but hey, this is Jam In the Dam, so you have to go with the flow and see where the moment takes you.

Where the moment took us, was into a wonderful full Weather Report Suite from Dark Star Orchestra to end their first set. If we had stuck around for all of the second set, we wouldn’t have missed the Scarlet Begonias encore joined by Keller Williams. That is correct, Keller had two different sit-ins on the same night, and we missed both. Two strikes already, one more and I think we’ve struck out.

We were compensated for leaving DSO early, as I really wanted to catch the Mike Gordon set in its entirety, and they did not disappoint. The Sugar Shack opener was well received by the audience, but at this point, I would have to say, that the Mike Gordon original Can’t Stand Still followed by the Beatles She Said, She Said and then into Gillian Welch’s The Way It Goes was musically the best thing I’ve heard so far and made the trip worth it. Scott Murawski was brilliant and on fire throughout. The Andelman’s Yard and then a Scott sung debut of The Shins’ Kissing The Lipless were just icing on the cake. The set closed before the encore with keyboardist Tom Cleary assuming vocal duties with a nod to everyone’s Amsterdam adventure on I Miss My Mind.

If there is anything I’ve taken away so far from this festival, other than the futility of trying to plan your listening schedule, it’s a new appreciation for the Mike Gordon Band. Tomorrow’s plan is simple, full Mike and moe. sets and then chill out with DSO for the final hours of JitD, although surely that plan will go awry.



Set: St. Augustine, Happy Hour Hero > Akimbo > Puebla, She, Up On Cripple Creek*, Downward Facing Dog, Spine Of A Dog > Buster > (nh) Wind It Up

{* w/ Keller Williams on guitar & vox}


Set: Hammerstrike, Tip of the Tongue, What Did I Do Wrong, In an Outline, Bubonic > Golden Ghost, Wax, Blacklight, Sid >

Dark Star Orchestra

Set One: Cumberland Blues ; Box Of Rain ; Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo ; You Ain’t Woman Enough ; Mexicali Blues ; Bird Song ; Big River ; Loose Lucy ; Weather Report Suite > Let I t Grow

Set Two: Here Comes Sunshine ; Let Me Sing Your Blues Away ; Around And Around ; Unbroken Chain > drums > space > Eyes Of The World > China Doll > Unbroken Chain > One More Saturday Night

Encore: *Scarlet Begonias
Notes: In the Style of early 70’s with two drummers.

* – w/ Keller Williams

Keller Williams

Mike Gordon

Set 1: Sugar ShackCan’t Stand StillShe Said She SaidThe Way It GoesAndelmans’ YardKissing The Lipless[1] > Babylon BabyFunky BitchI Miss My MindHap-Nappy

[1] Mike Gordon debut – The Shins

Notes: “Kissing,” a Scott Murawski original, was a Mike Gordon debut. This show is part of the “Jam in the Dam VI” also featuring moe.Dark Star OrchestraLotus and Keller Williams. This setlist is unconfirmed.

[via Phish.net]

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3 Responses

  1. This seriously brought tears of JOY when i read “If there is anything I’ve taken away so far from this festival, other than the futility of trying to plan your listening schedule, it’s a new appreciation for the Mike Gordon Band.” <3

  2. “kissing” is in fact a MGB debut, but it is a song called “kissing the lipless” by the Shins off the album Wincing the Night Away. Peace

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