How I Went From an EDM Head to a Jam Band Wook

Growing up, my musical taste was all over the place. I started out with good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll, idolizing acts like Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, and Nirvana. Sprinkle in some, Eminem, Bob Marley and Outkast and you’ve got my childhood pretty much on lock. Then, I found the Ramones which lead to a heavy dose of punk, pop-punk, and even some screamo (shoutout to The Devil Wears Prada mosh pits that I frequented many times at The Vans Warped Tour). I joined a band when I was 16 and played around the tri-state area for a few years until I quit and left for college, where my musical palate pivoted in a completely different direction.

Anyone in college around the same time I was (2011-2015) knows the feeling: Walking down rickety wooden stairs of a run-down house to a packed, unfinished basement. The stench of last week’s spilled beer on the ground filling your nostrils. A $50 laser show beaming around the room in every direction. And the most important factor, one of three songs blasting at an eardrum-breaking volume: Levels by Avicii, Feel So Close by Calvin Harris, or Save the World by Swedish House Mafia. Until college, I had not really listened to any EDM music other than at a party here and there or on the radio. But hearing them in this environment was different. We were free, unstoppable, and going to save the damn world every night. During these years, I went on an EDM concert tear. I got deep into other sub-genres of EDM like tropical house, funk, tech house, and so much more. Here are the DJs (that I can remember) I saw: Deadmau5, Swedish House Mafia, Kygo, Zedd, Odesza, Alesso, Bassnectar, Griz, Big Gigantic, The Chainsmokers, Zhu, Boogie T, Subtronics, Illenium, Alison Wonderland, Major Lazor…there’s more but I think you get the point. By 2015 I was attending larger music festivals like Firefly in Delaware, Bonnaroo in Tennessee and smaller EDM festivals all over the East Coast. Then in 2017, a man named Jerry Garcia gave me a 4 finger slap in the face.

I had listened to the Grateful Dead a little growing up, but had never really listened to their music the way I did in 2017. For some reason I became enthralled with the story of Woodstock and the psychedelia movement of the 60’s, and wanted to dive deeper into the bands who shaped it. Low and behold, I stumbled on a documentary on Amazon called “A Long Strange Trip”, which followed the Grateful Dead’s career from start to finish. If you’re not familiar with the Dead or haven’t seen it, I highly recommend giving it a watch. I was completely captivated by the documentary, these guys were so far ahead of their time; blazing the path for music, festivals, and counter culture like a gang of cosmic cowboys. Nothing they did was for the money or clout, simply the love of music and community. The community built around them is quite possibly the greatest grassroots story in American music history and has grown 10 fold over the years, bringing in folks from all walks of life and continued on through Dead & Company and the jam scene today.

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