I had never attended The Jam Room Festival before, even though the headliners in its first two years have been bands that I really like, The Hold Steady and Son Volt. This year though, the featured act was a band that I unabashedly love, Superchunk, so a road trip was in order. I’ve logged many a mile around the Southeast over the last 20 years or so to catch more than a handful of Superchunk shows. From Jackrabbits to Rockafellas, The Music Farm to The Mohawk, they’ve rocked every single time. (I don’t think they’ve ever played Savannah?)
Even though I was only at the festival a few hours, I really can’t say enough nice things about it. First and foremost, it was FREE!?! Parking literally couldn’t have been easier (also free??), the vibe was super relaxed, short lines for beverages, and an easily navigable crowd of appreciative music fans ranging from children to weathered rock veterans. Heck, they were throwing free tee shirts into the crowd. I caught the last couple songs of The Love Language‘s set (but none of the tees), they sounded just as solid as they had at Hang Fire a few weeks ago. I walked the two short blocks to the other stage, checking out the merch and sponsor tents on the way, everything was well laid out and organized.
Southern Culture on the Skids was just hitting the stage as I made it to the other end of the festival. I admit to being sadly underexposed to them, barring a slight familiarity with “Camel Walk“, their alternative novelty “hit” from back in the day when MTV played, you know, music. Anyway, I don’t know if it’s cool to like Southern Culture on the Skids, but they were freaking awesome. Fried chicken was thrown into the crowd, songs were sung about banana pudding and Tiki Houses, all set to an upbeat punk/rockabilly/surf/punky instrumentation that was infectious.
At the end of the set the band pulled people out of the crowd to dance to “Camel Walk” and “Eight Piece Box” and a young girl in knee high pink Chuck Taylors and a Flashdance outfit proceeded to dance the most joyous, non self-conscious, totally amazing and hilarious dance I have ever seen on a stage. Honestly, I could do an entire post on how great it was. May your entire life rule as much as that dance did, young lady.
I made the quick walk back to the Whig Stage and caught a couple of songs from Leagues. They sounded pretty good but I decided to grab a beer and a spot near the front of the Palmetto Brewing Co. Stage for the Superchunk set. Oh, and by the way, “near the front” meant against the stage. Serious fanboy-ism ensued. The band ripped through a set that was pulled from their entire catalog, including their very excellent recent release, I Hate Music (clearly they do not actually hate music). Merge Records head honcho and indie rock guitar hero Mac McCaughan seemingly spent as much time in the air pogoing and leaping as he did on the floor. We were all pogoing and singing the punky indie anthems right along with him. A lot (read “all”) of young artists could learn more than a little from watching the 47 year old McCaughan on a stage. After finishing the set with the uber indie anthem “Slack Motherfucker“, the crowd demanded an encore that culminated with “Precision Auto“. So many great songs to pull from. Stellar set from a legendary artist.
Click on through for TONS more photos.