This is a piece I wrote for Appalachian Jamwich on January 10, 2014, so it was likely published in the March 2014 addition of the magazine. Appropriately themed for this weekend, staying home for Halloween and missing Phish (who knew when writing this what Phish 2014 Halloween would hold!), but I will try to take the words of 25 year old me to heart and have no FOMO.
The Old Fears in the New Year?
Leaving FOMO Behind and Embracing the Moment
There’s no denying that 2013 was an explosive year in music. There were countless tours and festivals to choose from that were fairly close to home, and the events that required some travel seemed bigger and better than before. There were awesome new bands that deserved everyone’s attention, but also musicians who were thought or known to be calling it quits for a while. Needless to say, the decisions on what shows to see and what festivals to go to were difficult. Many fans ended up, as they often do, with the old dilemma of buying too many concert tickets, and then not having any money for concert tickets. So, as fans try to decide the best way to spend their resources (time included, as so often the best bands play on the same nights), there arose the social media dubbed sensation known as “fomo” or fear of missing out.
Whether the term came from a specifically musical background or not, it has seemed to apply especially here as the live jam scene enters this gigantic, loving swell of popularity. Destination events have popped up left and right, and with strings in Mexico or cruises in Jamaica, escaping the early part of 2013 proved to be just as difficult a decision as summertime would come to be. As many of the jam scenes heaviest hitters set out for spring tours, fans waited anxiously for festival announcements and packed the small city clubs to get their fix. But even then, there were signs of fomo- people begging for advice on whether to chose this one over that one, skipping the mid-level tickets to save for the waterfall of summer spending. And along it came, as anticipated: many shows, many options, few resources, lots and lots of fomo. When the leaves started turning and the temperatures dropped, the music went back indoors and seemed just as, if not more, plentiful and thrilling as before. Then, just a few months ago, the New Years Eve decision had to be made, and with it, a wave of the fear- driven by the completely legitimate idea that some once-in-a-lifetime moment will take place.
Come 2014, hopefully everyone had the NYE celebration they hoped for, but in the spirit of resolutions, look forward without fear. There’s no doubt that this year will be a similarly adventure-filled and musically inspiring turn around the sun. With Furthur taking a break, and a major shift in The Allman Brothers Band line-up, there’s lots of room for new projects from these artists and others. There will be a lot to come from acts like Lettuce and The Werks, and even more growth for the next “generation” like Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and Rumpke Mountain Boys. There were seemingly countless new festivals in the last 12 months, and this year, the ones that survived will really start to shine. So, will the jam fans cave to the fear, or leave fomo behind and embrace flood of new activity?
As it seems from a sociological perspective, a big part of the jam fan culture is living in the moment, which contradicts the general feeling of missing out on anything. Then again, the music is certainly as important, if not much more, and being part of the best shows is high on the priority list as well. Of course, no one group or set of unspoken rules can determine the way any one individual feels about his or her current physical place. But since the jam band world has been so saturated with interesting music, and since there are so many affordable and exciting options for music lovers of all kinds, truly embracing the magic of moment is going to provide absolutely the best possible state to be in. Yes, there are countless options, but revel in their diversity and feel comfort in the ultimate selection. Don’t wonder what could be going on in another part of the city or country or world; instead try to see what’s going on in the mind of the musicians on stage. Because no one should let thoughts of what they’re not doing effect the experiences they are having.