The Way Live Should Be

Your source for show and CD reviews, festival previews, and interviews with your favorite artists playing around New England and beyond!

Jamantics at The Barley House 4/2/2010

The Jamantics show at the Barley House in Concord, NH Friday night was exceptional. They are another incredibly high-energy band who bring a unique, talented sound and a deeply elevated feeling to their fans. Jamantics is drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, fiddle, and bass. Their sound is a beautiful blend of jamming, bluegrass and pure jamantics! Some of their songs even have a slight Celtic feel. When they first started playing, I was blown away by their ability to create a wall of sound that you cannot avoid being moved by. If you have ever felt music circuit through your veins like a fiery, sweet drug, then you can relate when I use the word “elevated” to describe this band.

One of the many wonderful aspects of Jamantics singular sound is the fiddle. All instruments allow their player some element of sound level control, but it really struck me the way the fiddle was able to, in the same song, be a soft undercurrent sound that sweetly carried you along, or become a powerfully uplifting ingredient of the music that forcefully lifted you away. Another secret to the wall of sound was the interplay between the electric guitar and the fiddle; they would often take turns playing very similar parts of the music, or play very similar riffs at the same time; becoming a completely new sound (new sounds are exciting!) It’s music that is very empowering and pure in feeling all at once. The band as a whole just plays with you… building you up and up, then grounding you, then very simply lifting you up again. The wonderful thing about the whole experience is that they seem to be completely overcome by their own sound and to be just as subject to its compelling nature as you, the listener, are.

Jamantics is a band that is reminiscent of the subtle solidarity and connectedness I often associate with traditional bluegrass tunes, yet their music is far more than bluegrass… its very jammy and often reminds me in some ways of Moe or older Strangefolk. They have some awesome originals, including Geology and Outburst (which I think everyone can identify with: “sometimes things just come to me and I just have to let them out”). The drummer has some mean talent as well as the ability to keep a solid rhythm, while also singing many of the tunes Jamantics play. His voice has an incredible range of highs and lows. The bassist was solid. He kept a great rhythm and occasionally executed great, funky solos. The acoustic guitarist is a crucial aspect of the bluegrassy unification in their music, and was perhaps the most consistent source of sheer energy. (and definitely had the biggest smile!) I am under the impression that he writes a fair number of their clever, classy lyrics as well. The electric guitarist is capable of some serious face melting solos as well as, apparently, an Amazing behind-the-back solo. His stage presence is Epic, and the guitar face is priceless.

The peak of the show for me was a cover of The Devil Went Down to Georgia, on which, of course, the fiddle player and electric guitarist really proved themselves to be, without a doubt, exceedingly talented. Truly though, it didn’t take that song to show that the whole band is amazing individually, and their chemistry as a whole is where they really shine. On one of their last songs, the electric guitarist broke out the slide (which is sometimes just a lighter), the fiddle player switched to acoustic guitar, the bassist played bongos, and the acoustic guitar player picked up the bass. I find interchanging instruments to be an exciting aspect of any band. Jamantics is an amazing up and coming sound, voted the second best band in NH by The Hippo, and their energy, talent, and versatility is mind blowing. Go. See. Jamantics!

Collaborative review by Heather Omand and Kim Morrison.

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