It’s crazy to think about all the resources available to bands today. From Youtube to Facebook, even the smallest outfit, in the most remote areas of the world has some rather powerful tools at its fingertips. Bands today can literally reach the entirety of the world, in many cases, for nothing more then the cost of an internet connection. Consider the band OK Go. Many people may be familiar with their treadmill music video that went viral through Youtube a few years back. This entirely unique music video literally catapulted the band to world wide recognition in the proverbial (but kind of literal), New York minute. Even after this fame, many of their recent music videos continue to try to capture that lightning in a bottle once again, shying away from flashy effects in favor of simple, yet captivating plots; ingenious in many ways. That recently got me thinking, could my own band make a music video with the hopes of capturing that same magic OK Go seems to have perfected, but instead make it relevant in the jamband scene?
In my search for an answer, I came across a rather clear finding, the jamband scene elevates one aspect of music above all else, the live performance. It’s for that reason that studio albums within the scene just simply aren’t as popular as live albums or actually, physically attending a concert. It’s all about the live music. Naturally, music videos wouldn’t be of number one priority within the genre. But, that’s not to say the visual sense doesn’t play a roll within the jamband scene. Indeed, amongst jambands, the light show and stage theatrics have functioned as the “music video” for fans. Likewise, these visual displays have taken on a new significance within live music, elevated to the state of an art form within their own rights (just like directing a music video). The light technician, for example, truly becomes a silent member of the band. His/her ability to sense the ebb and flow of the improvised music, and react to it accordingly, is nearly as important to the overall synergy of a show as an actual member of the band.
So when it comes right down to it, successful jambands have come to understand their market and who their playing for. Music videos simply wouldn’t have the impact amongst fans, for example, as any one of these following memorable, onstage stunts (as performed by Phish): flying around the arena on a giant hotdog, “cannoning” Fishman through the ceiling in the New Year’s Eve ball, incredible aerial acrobats suspended on a tower during the IT festival, trampolines, musical vacuums, etc, etc, etc. Not to mention that incredible light shows and onstage stunts are much more relevant in the jamband scene, because of a single condition: they actually require attendance to the show in order to experience their full impact. You simply have to be there, watching it live, to get it. So, in conclusion, I realized for my own jamband, investing time in enriching our live show, light show, and stage theatrics, is probably a better use of our energy than a music video.