This past Tuesday night, in an event billed as the Jam Jar, northeastern jambands Eggy, Fondude and Peak rocked The Brooklyn Bowl three times over, giving the famed Williamsburg venue over four hours of spirited, creative live music.
Four-member band Eggy, who opened the show, come from New Haven, CT, but have been hard at work recently delivering their lively shows all across the east coast, having shared stages across multiple states with artists like Andy Frasco and The U.N., Max Creek, Haley Jane, and The Primates, and others. For their debut set, the band played a full set of original stuff, and was perhaps the perfect opportunity for them to also debut a brand-new song, “12 Pounds of Pain.” Written by keyboardist Dani Batatt and composed by guitarist Jake Brownstein, the song fittingly describes the story of a bowler named Sonny and reflects the kind of eccentricity and cheerfulness imbuing a lot of their material.
When it comes time to ride songs out, Eggy seems to do so with confidence from all four members. Tune into one full set from the band and by the end, or even halfway through, you have a firm feeling for each of the members’ individual playing styles. They concluded their debut set in with a big combo of two originals, “Graceless” and “In It For The Ride.” Powerful sections of soulful rock in these last songs demonstrated the group’s knack for laying down heartfelt music at a slow crawl of a tempo. But, it wouldn’t be an Eggy set if such was not intermissoned also by a stretch of freewheeling, improvisational-leaden disco rock, which the band hit in “Graceless.”
From what seemed like a small army of friends, family and fans, whoops and hollers and booming chants of “Fondude!” greeted the next four-piece as the second act of Jam Jar. Fondude were also making their Brooklyn Bowl, and had some pretty slick tricks throughout their set, like a well-polished version of Phish’s “Cars Trucks and Buses” that was topped off with a nice power guitar solo from lead Sam Ellner.
At the center of a couple of Fondude’s sections were fantastic bluegrass-rock style solos from pianist Ben Saldinger. Near both the exciting kick off and the end of their set, dancier club jams were punctuated by these country-electro-style breakdowns that sent the room reeling. As Fondude’s set went on, they sneakily became more musically daring, little by little, so that when it came time to transition out of “Fly Like an Eagle” into The Dead’s “Slipknot,” the result was done almost inconspicuously well, and even followed suit with an extended jazzy, spacey jam.
Peak, the headliners for the night, are a relatively young Brooklyn outfit but have already made strong showings at a number of staple NYC venues like DROM, The Way Station, a residency at the now-defunct American Beauty, and more.
In their headlining slot for this Jam Jar night, the group gave a full spin through their colorful, varied songbook, and Peak's original songs were actually all so satisfying in a way that any ensuing jams coming out of them just felt like bonus material. At one-point halfway through, this band channeled the sound and feel of Wilco, especially the band’s lead Jeremy Hillard who sounded reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy. But Americana-flavored material like this was surrounded by groovy fusion jazz and funk, topped again and again by sonically empowering solos from lead Hillard on guitar.
There was hope that an event billed as the Jam Jar would witness some cross-band collaboration action, and thankfully there was a little. Eggy member Dani Battat doubled up on keys for one of Peak’s last songs, performing beside the band’s Johnny Young, and helped lay down an intriguingly ethereal sounding song.
Improvisational performance, in the rock and roll setting at least, often sounds really nice when it’s not forced, and rather flows out of compositional material with a sense of natural progression or build. All three bands Tuesday night at The Brooklyn Bowl seemed to successfully demonstrate this elusive ability, showcasing alongside a flair for live experimentation a reverence for the importance of vocals, hooks, and more. Shows like Jam Jar are good events to check out to assure oneself of the knowledge that jamband rock is being maintained strongly and refreshingly into 2019 by lots of up and comers.