Podcast #052 – When Indie Bands Kick Out the Jams

Show notes:

Here at LMB we’re obviously open to a band stretching a song beyond its normal studio length or otherwise changing it for the live setting…that’s, in fact, one of the main reasons people dig live music. (Okay, duh, you can send my regards to Captain Obvious)

But while a band such as Phish is definitely known for kicking out the long jams in concert, there are plenty of other live bands that don’t normally get this label that can still rock out a jam segment either in concert or in the studio.

With this in mind, we’ve compiled a few long-winded tracks from some bands that are not necessarily known for their jamming skills, and we want to know from all the listeners: do you like when “indie rock” bands jam? That’s the basic premise here, and if you didn’t catch it, the title is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek.

Total running time: 45:46

Tracklists includes “stretched out” songs from:
Wilco, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, !!!, and Yo La Tengo

Enjoy! And definitely let us know what you think in the comments section.

  • stems

    I haven’t heard the podcast yet so I can’t comment on every band that’s on there, but I thought Yo La Tengo was known almost exclusively for rocking out. That’s also what got me into early Modest Mouse.

    Like most of your readers, I love the stretched out stuff. I just think it’s funny whenI attend a Wilco show or something and hipsters are wowed by solos that I consider not just normal, but expected from any band I’d pay money to see.

    If I was emperor I’d make “jambands” jam 15 percent less and indie rock bands rock 15 percent more. Except all those great Canadian bands — Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, Black Mountain et al. — I’d demand full improv sets from them.

  • stems

    I haven’t heard the podcast yet so I can’t comment on every band that’s on there, but I thought Yo La Tengo was known almost exclusively for rocking out. That’s also what got me into early Modest Mouse.

    Like most of your readers, I love the stretched out stuff. I just think it’s funny whenI attend a Wilco show or something and hipsters are wowed by solos that I consider not just normal, but expected from any band I’d pay money to see.

    If I was emperor I’d make “jambands” jam 15 percent less and indie rock bands rock 15 percent more. Except all those great Canadian bands — Broken Social Scene, Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire, Black Mountain et al. — I’d demand full improv sets from them.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    Thanx for the spot-on comment stems. This is exactly the type of response I was attempting to illicit. It’ll be interesting if anayone else chimes in with a more negative take. I am actually not completely convinced that the jams in Wilco’s “Spiders” or LCD Soundsystem’s “Yeah” are that great as jams go, but that was the point. That said, the “jamming” in some of the other cuts (Radiohead, !!!) is perfect in my opinion.

    It sounds like you’re clearly in the “I like when indie bands jam” camp. Of course, this is a silly categorization I made up, since it depends on the performance and is never this black and white.

    I’m curious to get your thoughts once you’ve taken a listen. Cheers, WP

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    Thanx for the spot-on comment stems. This is exactly the type of response I was attempting to illicit. It’ll be interesting if anayone else chimes in with a more negative take. I am actually not completely convinced that the jams in Wilco’s “Spiders” or LCD Soundsystem’s “Yeah” are that great as jams go, but that was the point. That said, the “jamming” in some of the other cuts (Radiohead, !!!) is perfect in my opinion.

    It sounds like you’re clearly in the “I like when indie bands jam” camp. Of course, this is a silly categorization I made up, since it depends on the performance and is never this black and white.

    I’m curious to get your thoughts once you’ve taken a listen. Cheers, WP

  • stems

    You’ve got some good finds on your podcast.

    Like a lot of material on A Ghost is Born, “Spiders” is written specifically to be jammed out in concert. I happen to like this period of Wilco, but I understand people’s complaints when they say the band self-consciously changed its style to pick up more jamband fans.

    I’d never heard !!! before so I appreciate you throwing that on there. There was a pretty intense breakdown at the end evoking the Disco Biscuits or Brothers Past.

    Speaking of, I agreed with an earlier post on BP, how they’re the nexus of the jam and indie rock universe. But I also think their relatively stalled career trajectory shows that this argument might only cut one way. I’ve been hearing about BP’s indie rock buzz for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a handful of indie rock kids at any BP show — or, for that matter, most concerts that last last two sets.

  • stems

    You’ve got some good finds on your podcast.

    Like a lot of material on A Ghost is Born, “Spiders” is written specifically to be jammed out in concert. I happen to like this period of Wilco, but I understand people’s complaints when they say the band self-consciously changed its style to pick up more jamband fans.

    I’d never heard !!! before so I appreciate you throwing that on there. There was a pretty intense breakdown at the end evoking the Disco Biscuits or Brothers Past.

    Speaking of, I agreed with an earlier post on BP, how they’re the nexus of the jam and indie rock universe. But I also think their relatively stalled career trajectory shows that this argument might only cut one way. I’ve been hearing about BP’s indie rock buzz for years, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than a handful of indie rock kids at any BP show — or, for that matter, most concerts that last last two sets.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    stems: good point on BP — arguably, that title mixup hasn’t really had a positive effect. If anything, it’s confused their base…

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

    stems: good point on BP — arguably, that title mixup hasn’t really had a positive effect. If anything, it’s confused their base…

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    By the way, that 1st line should have read: “exactly the type of response I was attempting to elicit.”

    stems, I had never heard of that complaint about Wilco. It certainly adds an interesting wrinkle. But I also feel like the band made some pretty big changes post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I’m not a Wilco know-it-all, so I may be wrong, but I believe Nels Kline came in from a jazzier background and that could have played a large role in those changes.

    But either way, a band like Wilco courting fans of the jammier variety may be a decent biz strategy for them, as long as they don’t push away other fans in the process. And as long as I’m throwing out “jamband fan” stereotypes, it’s also useful to consider that these same fans are typically rabid consumers of music, gobbling up concert tickets and other goods at a rapid pace. Wilco seems as big (if not bigger) than ever, so this may have been a good move.

    As for BP, I tend to agree, but I think their music is only one part of the story of their trajectory – promotions, marketing, time, and a smaller hardcore audience – are also big factors. In terms of their “indie rock” appeal, I think most folks from that end of the spectrum have simply never heard or heard of Brothers Past. I think it remains to be seen if their different approach will help or hurt them. An even better (and earlier) example of this same thing is Lake Trout. They were rocking out the electronic-tinged jams and playing the festival circuit and then tried pushing away from the “jam” label. I’m not sure it really helped them grow a fanbase, as they seem to still be struggling to get to the next level (which is arguably what BP is also doing now).

    Overall, it may be just what stems said, a trend that is mainly going one way (jam fans more often checking out indie rock bands). However, I think festivals like Bonnaroo and Langerado are continuing to offer a place where these issues play out. Bonnaroo started as “the jamband fest of all jam festivals” and now look at its recent line-ups (and tremendous success and popularity)…would you have ever thought that a blog like Stereogum would discuss a festival like Bonnaroo? Food for thought.

    -wp

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    By the way, that 1st line should have read: “exactly the type of response I was attempting to elicit.”

    stems, I had never heard of that complaint about Wilco. It certainly adds an interesting wrinkle. But I also feel like the band made some pretty big changes post-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I’m not a Wilco know-it-all, so I may be wrong, but I believe Nels Kline came in from a jazzier background and that could have played a large role in those changes.

    But either way, a band like Wilco courting fans of the jammier variety may be a decent biz strategy for them, as long as they don’t push away other fans in the process. And as long as I’m throwing out “jamband fan” stereotypes, it’s also useful to consider that these same fans are typically rabid consumers of music, gobbling up concert tickets and other goods at a rapid pace. Wilco seems as big (if not bigger) than ever, so this may have been a good move.

    As for BP, I tend to agree, but I think their music is only one part of the story of their trajectory – promotions, marketing, time, and a smaller hardcore audience – are also big factors. In terms of their “indie rock” appeal, I think most folks from that end of the spectrum have simply never heard or heard of Brothers Past. I think it remains to be seen if their different approach will help or hurt them. An even better (and earlier) example of this same thing is Lake Trout. They were rocking out the electronic-tinged jams and playing the festival circuit and then tried pushing away from the “jam” label. I’m not sure it really helped them grow a fanbase, as they seem to still be struggling to get to the next level (which is arguably what BP is also doing now).

    Overall, it may be just what stems said, a trend that is mainly going one way (jam fans more often checking out indie rock bands). However, I think festivals like Bonnaroo and Langerado are continuing to offer a place where these issues play out. Bonnaroo started as “the jamband fest of all jam festivals” and now look at its recent line-ups (and tremendous success and popularity)…would you have ever thought that a blog like Stereogum would discuss a festival like Bonnaroo? Food for thought.

    -wp

  • stems

    I’ll keep this conversation going, but it may require perpetuating a few stereotypes.

    First of all, I’ve got nothing against indie rock as a genre, but sometimes I think its culture of “cool” can limit the appreciation of music on a base level — i.e. Spin and Pitchfork say all “jambands” suck, therefore any band that’s ever held that label is fit to be ignored. Someone who’s heard a 40-minute Tweezer, I guess, can be more open-minded.

    I have no idea what tastemaker decides these things, but somewhere along the line groups like Mogwai and Built to Spill got labeled as “arty” while Umphrey’s McGee and the Disco Biscuits will forever be dubbed “self-indulgent.” There’s not too much of a difference in their musical philosophies — although one makes you pensive and one makes you dance, which should not be discounted.

    Perhaps if John Popper had invited Sonic Youth out on the first H.O.R.D.E. tour there wouldn’t be this line in the sand, but it’s there. The only surprising part of the development is that, with the decline of CD profitts, the jam tradition of touring and merch sales makes more money.

    But while it’s risky for bands like BP, the Slip, and the Dup to court mainstream appeal while improvising on instrumental themes, it’s not unprecendented. Just look at Neil Young — somehow he got FM radio DJs to play “Down by the River.”

    On an unrelated note, Wilco is far and away the greatest band in America and above any sort of reproach from me.

  • stems

    I’ll keep this conversation going, but it may require perpetuating a few stereotypes.

    First of all, I’ve got nothing against indie rock as a genre, but sometimes I think its culture of “cool” can limit the appreciation of music on a base level — i.e. Spin and Pitchfork say all “jambands” suck, therefore any band that’s ever held that label is fit to be ignored. Someone who’s heard a 40-minute Tweezer, I guess, can be more open-minded.

    I have no idea what tastemaker decides these things, but somewhere along the line groups like Mogwai and Built to Spill got labeled as “arty” while Umphrey’s McGee and the Disco Biscuits will forever be dubbed “self-indulgent.” There’s not too much of a difference in their musical philosophies — although one makes you pensive and one makes you dance, which should not be discounted.

    Perhaps if John Popper had invited Sonic Youth out on the first H.O.R.D.E. tour there wouldn’t be this line in the sand, but it’s there. The only surprising part of the development is that, with the decline of CD profitts, the jam tradition of touring and merch sales makes more money.

    But while it’s risky for bands like BP, the Slip, and the Dup to court mainstream appeal while improvising on instrumental themes, it’s not unprecendented. Just look at Neil Young — somehow he got FM radio DJs to play “Down by the River.”

    On an unrelated note, Wilco is far and away the greatest band in America and above any sort of reproach from me.

  • isaac

    even though they aren’t indie (neither is radiohead…) i think u2 “kicks out the jams” more than similar stadium acts. in their studio work there is a bigger focus on instrumentation than many pop groups. also, live, even with their very produced show, they do have moments of improvisation and soloing. just check out a video of bullet the blue sky on youtube.

  • isaac

    even though they aren’t indie (neither is radiohead…) i think u2 “kicks out the jams” more than similar stadium acts. in their studio work there is a bigger focus on instrumentation than many pop groups. also, live, even with their very produced show, they do have moments of improvisation and soloing. just check out a video of bullet the blue sky on youtube.

  • bender

    I haven’t listened to most of these bands before; could someone put an actual tracklist up here so I can explore them further?

  • bender

    I haven’t listened to most of these bands before; could someone put an actual tracklist up here so I can explore them further?

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    bender, here it is:

    1) Wilco – “Spiders” (live @ Ottos, DeKalb, IL, 5/20/04)

    2) Radiohead – “Everything in its Right Place” (live in Berlin, 9/11/01)

    3) LCD Soundsystem – “Yeah” (live at Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Ireland, 9/4/05)

    4) !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk) – “Bend Over Beethoven” (from Myth Takes)

    5) Yo La Tengo – “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” (from “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”)

    If you dig the groovier disco-punk stuff, I defintely recommend the LCD Soundsystem self-titled album and !!!’s latest, Myth Takes.

    Isaac, I actually am a huge sucker for the Edge and a lot of U2’s instrumentation. I really wish they would do more of the instrumental stuff and let Edge go nuts.

  • http://www.livemusicblog.com WHITperson

    bender, here it is:

    1) Wilco – “Spiders” (live @ Ottos, DeKalb, IL, 5/20/04)

    2) Radiohead – “Everything in its Right Place” (live in Berlin, 9/11/01)

    3) LCD Soundsystem – “Yeah” (live at Electric Picnic, Stradbally, Ireland, 9/4/05)

    4) !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk) – “Bend Over Beethoven” (from Myth Takes)

    5) Yo La Tengo – “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” (from “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”)

    If you dig the groovier disco-punk stuff, I defintely recommend the LCD Soundsystem self-titled album and !!!’s latest, Myth Takes.

    Isaac, I actually am a huge sucker for the Edge and a lot of U2’s instrumentation. I really wish they would do more of the instrumental stuff and let Edge go nuts.

  • http://www.industryfinest.com Hip-Hop

    Indie Bands Rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.industryfinest.com Hip-Hop

    Indie Bands Rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!